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To Yelp or Not to Yelp

Yelp is an online business directory. It publishes crowd-sourced reviews posted by consumers about local businesses. In other words, Yelp is a place for consumers to leave their thoughts about you and your business. Of course, positive reviews can really help your business. On the other hand, negative reviews on the site can hurt your business.

In the past, Yelp had been under fire for displaying bias.  Business owners and consumers noticed that their positive reviews were being removed. It seemed that if your first review posted was positive or all your reviews were positive, the site filtered them out.

Business owners had been contacting the company asking why their positive reviews were removed. The company implied that if business owners advertised on Yelp this would not happen. Some business owners were even going as far as suing the company for extortion but were unsuccessful. However, this raised serious doubts in the past about the site.

Is it Beneficial to Yelp?

With all the bad exposure in the past, is Yelp worth it? For small businesses, any exposure is important. This is where Yelp can be a great asset. Having clients rate your performance online can be extremely beneficial. For example, let’s say someone in your area is looking for a great taco place. When they search for reviews on taco restaurants your venue will come up. This is important exposure and people can see the great reviews. Yelp is also available as a Google Chrome plugin, making it super convenient.

However, not all comments are positive. Negative comments happen in any business. At the Westmark Group, we make it a point to acknowledge these comments immediately. You should never delete them. Instead, you should respond to them. Responding to negative comments allows consumers to see how your company handles and responds to tough feedback.

Moreover, in SEO terms, Yelp is considered an “authority” site. This means that it carries a lot of weight when it comes to boosting traffic on your website. If you claim your Yelp listing, you can add a link that leads directly to your website. Your Yelp profile can also list your location, business hours, description and menu.

Or Not to Yelp

You might think a great way to improve your Yelp reviews are getting friends to hype you up on the platform. However, Yelp has a new rule against that. With the Don’t Ask Rule, the site can impose penalties which will hurt your business if it finds out you’re soliciting reviews. This can cause your business to appear lower in rankings.

Yelp will also let all your customers know that you solicited reviews. They will impose a consumer alert on your page. This is a warning message that pops up over your review section. It will state that you manipulate your reviews and provide evidence to prove it.

Yelp’s recommendation software analyzes each review posted for factors like quality, reliability, and user activity. This might sound great at first, but it has some “bugs”. The software only includes what it believes to be the most reliable. The reviews that didn’t make the cut enter the “not recommended reviews” section. Since the site measures user activity, if your account is new your reviews might get filtered out. Therefore, new reviews for your business might not post.

When you’re starting a new small business, every move you make is important. Joining Yelp might seem like a given but it has some negatives. The site can be extremely beneficial, and The Westmark Group can help you decide if it’s right for your business. We can also offer you some tips to ensure your reviews are seen. For example, interacting with your review or reviewer. You can:

  1. Add them as a friend
  2. Send the reviewer a message
  3. Respond to the review
  4. Vote the review as “Useful” or “Funny” or both

Moreover, consider posting a Yelp poster or sticker inside your business. This will let consumers know you’re on the site. Then they can decide if they would like to review you or not. Both of these options will ensure you start a thread of real reviews and make certain these reviews won’t be filtered out.