The other week Bing announced that it’ll be using Yelp to power it’s local search results and Apple announced its new iOS6 operating system featuring updated Siri and maps applications which will be powered from local business information from Yelp.
Yelp is already one of the world’s largest local business information websites and with these partnerships each listing is likely to be given much more exposure. Worldwide, Yelp had around 71 million monthly unique visitors in Q2 2012 to its website and there are over 27 million user reviews now on the website. Bing has over 165 million users per month worldwide and there are 365 million iOS devices in the world on which 80% currently have the latest operating system installed. When iOS6 is released this autumn/fall most users are likely to upgrade to it. So this could equal over 290 million iOS6 users looking at Yelp business data every month.
Let’s take a quick look at how business listing data will appear on Bing and on iOS devices…
Listings on Yelp not only contain the business address details but opening times, special offers, photos and reviews. The more comprehensive your listing is, the more it is likely to be attractive to users. It’s also worth mentioning that Yelp is also a powerful tool to engage and respond to customer comments, they describe themselves as a social network not a business directory. This means a good profile on Yelp takes a lot of work but it will be worth it with these recent partnerships giving listings a lot more exposure.
There are also talks about the iOS6 integration allowing ‘check-ins’ and this could mean that you will have access to users that have actually visited your business. Creating a fantastic opportunity to engage with customers.
You may already have a profile or you may not, below are some instructions to set up a Yelp profile and how you can manage and promote it.
Creating a profile is simple and completely free. A word of warning though, you are likely to be contacted by a Yelp salesperson asking if you want to upgrade your listing. There are a few benefits to these such as no competitors alongside your profile listing, however we recommend sticking with the free profile as it is very comprehensive.
Click on the sign up now button and then enter all of your business information. If you fill everything in, users are more likely to be grateful for the extra information and less likely to ask common questions about your business which can waste lots of your valuable time. You can have up to 3 categories for your business to be listed in. You do not have to use all three but they must be relevant. You may want to look at your competitors for inspiration as to which categories to use or you may want to look at your other profiles such as your Google Places profile to keep it consistent.
Adding photos is highly recommended and as well as being useful they will make your profile a lot more attractive.
Keeping your information up to date is likely to help your listing in the Yelp search results. In some cases supplying the wrong information can reduce your search results position or even get you de-listed!
If you are lucky customers may leave you positive reviews, however you may receive negative reviews and comments. You have the opportunity to respond to user comments either publicly or in private. So being active and thanking customers for positive reviews is a nice way to show that you care and you’re aware of their presence. You can add these customers as a friend for future contact and you can tag their review using the options underneath it. This can help a review stay out of the Yelp filter system that may think they are fake reviews.
Yelps filter system is quite powerful but also quite frustrating at times. Never try to game the system by creating fake positive reviews for your business.
Dealing with negative reviews is one of the hardest parts a business owner can do, but if you remain calm you can promote your business in a positive light despite the negative reviews.
If the review includes some constructive criticism you should thank them for their comments and explain how you can take their recommendations into account. These sorts of users could become repeat customers provided you reply to them in a positive way.
Negative complaints are a bit more difficult to deal with as you never want to provoke further attacks. Like the criticism reviews you will want to reply in a very positive manner, but apologise to them for their bad experience if it was a genuine complaint. Never ever respond in a negative manner.
Some negative reviews may be obviously trying to provoke a response. Sometimes these can be spotted by being completely irrelevant or promoting a competitor. In this case no matter how much you apologise you are unlikely to please the user, so try to avoid being drawn into an attack such as this. You can’t force the removal of any review however you will be able to flag the review in the chance that they will be filtered out from the system.
Yelp explicitly states that you’re not to ask for reviews, however many businesses do this privately via contact with their customer database. You’re not allowed to offer any incentives on your business listing that will encourage users to review your business. Instead make customers aware that you have a Yelp profile by including badges on your own website and window stickers in your businesses premises. Gently encourage them to visit your yelp profile.
One method of attracting more visitors to your profile is to create special offers and promotions via Yelp. These will be featured on the Yelp website and can sometimes rank highly in the organic search results in Google and Bing.
So Yelp is more than just a business directory, it is a platform to engage with your customers, respond to their comments and offer them great deals. In the coming months Bing’s integrated local business results powered by Yelp will be launched in the UK and in the Autumn/Fall iOS6 will be released giving hundreds of millions more users instant access to the rich Yelp results. Get creating your profile today!
Have you got any tips for businesses or users on Yelp? Give them up in the comments below…