If you care about local search, Yelp for business is a no-brainer. There are 23 million active users for the Yelp mobile app, 69 million monthly mobile visitors, and 73 million monthly desktop visitors.
Due to its fresh content (users creating new content every time they leave a review), Yelp ranks high for branded and non-branded search terms. Chances are, if someone is searching on Google for a local business, they’ll most likely click the Yelp result. That’s why it’s important for a business to ensure all aggregate scores present in search results are congruent (we recommend an aggregate score of 4.5-4.9).
And that’s not just for smaller businesses. If you have an enterprise-level brand or even a brand with multiple locations, it’s critical for you to focus on directories like Yelp – not just for the users who go directly to Yelp.com or the Yelp app.
How to Get More Yelp Reviews for Your Business
1. Contribute to the Yelp community
Have franchise owners go to the Yelp “Talk” boards (aka the forums) and put in a request for people to check out your business.
Remember that you can’t actively ask for reviews, but you can certainly ask for visits to your business. The best part: this is where the majority of Yelp Elites for different cities hang out.
2. Cater to Yelp Elites
Create an event specifically for Yelp Elites. Yelp Elite reviews have higher priority in the Yelp algorithm.
Elite reviews are more likely to be showcased in your profile, and things like their photos are more likely to show up as well. Yelp uses a TF-IDF model to find keywords within reviews.
3. Showcase a specific item
For example, if you are a hotel hosting a Yelp Elite event in an event room, make sure you have great catering or service.
This could increase the chances those Yelpers feature that in the reviews. E.g.- “ . . .this place seems like a great place to host an event. . .”
4. Use the “Find Friends” feature
Have franchise owners create Yelp accounts and use the “Find Friends” feature, which allows them to import their friends from Facebook who also have Yelp accounts.
5. Ask users to “check in”
No matter how tempting it is, you are not allowed to solicit reviews per Yelp’s guidelines. However, a nifty workaround is asking users to “Check In” on the application. Yelp will internally remind users at a later point in time to leave a review about their experience. This benefits you further because a “Check In” will also increase the chances that the review will survive Yelp’s sophisticated spam filters.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
No one likes a bad review, especially ones like these:
A study from the University of California Berkeley proved that your star pack matters, and even a one-star increase can result in a 10% increase in business.
Unfortunately, no business is perfect. But that’s okay! Users are becoming more and more suspicious of perfect profiles, and negative reviews can amplify the positive reviews around them. Be sure to respond to every review online, especially negative reviews.
How to Get Business Intelligence from Negative Reviews
The reticular activating system in your brain allows you to look for patterns. That’s why, if you were recently shopping for a 2017 black Honda Pilot, you’ll begin to notice black Honda Pilots driving around everywhere.
Identifying patterns in negative reviews for both you and your competitors can allow you to be proactive about what you do in those situations.
For example, for a national gym chain I was recently working with at Classy Brain, we were able to identify that almost 90% of negative reviews came from people who “dropped in.” It made perfect sense: a newer member is likely very self-conscious being in a new environment with new people. This information was huge, it meant that we could be proactive and show new people that stopped in extra attention and they would likely be very grateful and increase the chances they would instead leave us a positive review.
Future-Proof Your Business with Yelp
Directories are usually only a problem if they are left alone. Local SEO expert, Mary Bowling, once said, “Businesses can no longer hide from their reputation online.”
Yelp is growing. Embrace good Yelp habits now.
If you are managing an enterprise level business with multiple locations, empower those who are on the front lines of your locations. Educate them on best review practices and show them how to increase aggregate scores. It makes little sense not to. By doing so, you can increase franchise profits and user happiness.