Here is a quick guide to get the most out of your Yelp business profile:
Create your profile and unlock your business page
If you haven't already, create your profile and then unlock your business page at biz.yelp.com. Post (flattering) photos of your business and add information that expresses what makes your restaurant, hair salon, or pet shop unique. For example, if your salon only uses organic or natural products, mention it. Stand out. Business pages with more detailed stories and descriptive photos tend to get more viewership, so spend that extra ten minutes to market your service or product as best you can.
Add Events, Deals, and Discounts
Yelp has a mobile following of 4 million users and growing. A smart business owner will determinedly engage this mobile audience, as these Yelpers are generally the site's most active. Host an event and announce it to the Yelp community or offer an exclusive discount to Yelpers. Similar to Foursquare and Groupon, Yelp lets owners post "check-in offers" and "deals" that allow businesses to reward customers for patronage or offer significant discounts for a small time period. Take advantage of all these marketing tools and watch people fly through the door.
Utilize Statistics and Charts
Considering it's free, the Yelp analytics on the back end of your business page are crucial to small business owners. Yelp provides charts that allow businesses to track activity on their profile page like daily or monthly traffic. Also, you can choose to receive e-mail notifications for new reviews and evaluate your review distribution over time. Assessing this information can give you a better idea of what consumers are looking for and what kind of buzz your business is generating on the website.
Don't Ask Customers for Positive Reviews
As tempting as it is to ask customers to write reviews for you, hold off. The Yelp review filter, though not perfect, was created to algorithmically sort out suspicious or solicited reviews and will likely strain out most shills. (The computerized process is designed to protect both business owners and consumers from spam, spiteful competitors, and less reliable information.) Moreover, Yelpers are savvy consumers that can smell an unauthentic review from a mile away. A business with seemingly fake reviews will elicit questions of integrity and credibility. Remember, the best reviews are the reviews that are generated organically and stemmed off a customer's genuine experience.
Interact with Customers: Both the Happy and Not-so Happy
This is frequently the most difficult step for business owners to take when diving into the Yelp community. The even bigger question: How do you respond to a reviewer that gives you a demoralizing 1-star review? As many other blogs and articles will encourage, you should reply to all reviews— both raving and unfavorable. Engaging in a dialogue with past customers is the perfect way to thank them for positive comments or address the negative ones. Yelp allows business owners to respond to reviews both publically and privately, so utilize each function accordingly.
Private responses should be simple "Thank yous" for positive reviews but should try and establish a more personal connection for negative reviews. This Yelp Business Blogpost shares excellent tips on how to respond to negative reviews.
Public responses should be concise but constructive comments that demonstrate to consumers that you are listening and constantly improving upon any issues or concerns brought forth in your reviews. Remember that public responses can be seen by everybody!
Note: Never attack a reviewer, offer incentives, or advertise in any response. Losing your business' professional demeanor is the worst thing you can do.
As hard as it is to take feedback, especially negative, for the business that you pour your sweat and tears into, Yelp is a wonderful site to market and interact with your customer base— for free! Don't be intimidated by the "Yelp can make or break a business" notion. Stay active, be positive, and take advantage of all Yelp has to offer.