Understanding Yelp for Your Small Business

Welcome to the dawn of a new era where everything that is done on social media is trackable; analyzed more than ever before; and can be paid for in order to increase or improve results.

Yelp was in the center of customer review websites last year, and we want to tackle those concerns and clear any doubts you may have in order to help you make wise decisions that will determine whether what people say about your business online is creating a need among your audience to purchase your services.

 As stated before, Yelp was surrounded by quite a bit of controversy last year when it was reported that the network had solicited small business owners into buying ad space in order for good reviews to appear on their profile. These reports were so serious that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a look into the matter and found nothing that would make these reports valid. Even after the FTC dropped the case, some reports surfaced that made Yelp’s way of doing business questionable.

These two reasons may appear true on the surface, and were initially the cause for complaints to arise in the first place:

  1. Small businesses noticed their reviews disappearing and only negative reviews staying.
  2. After calling Yelp’s customer service, many of their problems seemed to disappear after small business owners bought advertising from the website.

This led us to do some online research into other similar cases as well as looking into how Yelp works, and we have found an interview with Yelp’s small business evangelist as well as video that shows exactly how Yelp recommends reviews, and that that may be the reason why reviews from Yelp disappear.

To summarize the video:

Yelp won’t showcase reviews from users who are new and haven’t recommended anything else at all, as well as reviews by people who are owners of a particular small business or related to that person; and they won’t account those reviews into overall review rating.

You see, after watching this video we realized that a lot of small business owners don’t know how Yelp really works, or how their algorithm is supposed to work. They probably assumed (as most other people do) that simply because someone wrote a review, that that review automatically appears and that it is automatically showcased on their Yelp page, and that that review is automatically tallied to the 5-star rating. This also means that maybe a lot of consumers who want to help their local businesses don’t know this either. I’m sure a lot of people who come to your shop create a Yelp account just so they can review your business, and never use that account ever again. This will obviously hurt your Yelp reviews. What you can do is encourage your customers to review other businesses as well instead of just yours because this will build their credibility as a Yelp reviewer, which will in turn help other small business ratings and reviews as well.

The problem here is that, it shouldn’t be your job to educate your customers on how to use Yelp, and this is probably another reason Yelp failed – failure to educate their users, and failure of users who think they know how to use Yelp, or thinking they know how to use it but don’t read instructions for whatever reason. We hope this changes in the future.

However, even if that doesn’t put your mind at ease about using Yelp for your business, there are other ways your customers can review your business in purely legitimate way. And that is using Google My Business.
Most of your customers probably have a Google account which they use to rate videos on YouTube, access Gmail, and review your business. When a person performs an online search through a search engine for your type of business, your business will appear in local search results, together with your address, contact information, and user rating. Search results will also display your competitors as well as their user ratings; and this is what helps a new visitor decide whether or not to buy from you.

So, which user-review channel you use in order to manage your online reviews and address issues people may have about your business, or whether you want to address praise they’re giving you is up to you to decide, and we hope this article helps you make that decision.

For help managing your online presence and marketing strategy contact us today. We are here to help you be found online. Let us focus on our expertise, so you can focus on yours.


Eric Wagner

While Eric now focuses on internet marketing, he also has a background in web development. He loves being among the first to find out about new tech—and better yet, being a part of making that tech succeed. Eric is known to be a good listener, seeking to understand how each individual sees the world. He is a harmonizer in group settings, cultivating unity while constructing the overall goal and strategy. When he’s not busy helping i7 clients dominate the online marketplace, Eric enjoys drone videography (he’s got a UAV pilot’s license), woodworking, community service, and all things outdoors.

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