Yelp is just one of several online directories that help consumers make buying decisions. While Yelp may have been focused on the restaurant industry at first and as the business grew, it is now one of the top search engines for businesses who have a local shop (as opposed to online only industries). If your company sells a product or service on location, Yelp is an opportunity not to miss. Again, local SEO is incredibly important, but Yelp is an entirely different search engine, so it’s important to have a presence on both.

Why Yelp Is Taking Over Search Volume

Aside from the sheer number of users, consider a few of the reasons this site is so popular:

  • Smartphones. When people are looking for somewhere to eat or shop, they are often driving around in their cars; therefore using their smartphones. The website can be set up as an application on a smartphone, making it easy to use. This site works extremely well in these types of situations.
  • Customer Driven. Customers write and post reviews about businesses onto the website, which then helps give other reassurance (or saves them the trip). Customers like to see reviews go in a general direction; thus making this site very popular.
  • Local. When a user uses Yelp, they know they are going to get results based on their current location. When searching for a business (either directly or through the search engine), location is more important than when searching for a product that can be shipped. For this reason, people only turn to sites that produce local results, and Yelp passes the test.
  • Informative. Yelp is an extremely informative site. It will list the business’s hours, prices, address, even things like dress code, wifi situation, etc. It’s quick, easy, and clear.

Yelp works best for smaller, local restaurants, but even big chains will benefit from the exposure. If you have one or two bad reviews mixed in which a lot of positive reviews, your restaurant should be safe. Users generally look at the majority of reviews in order to make a decision, not just one or two.

Consider a few of the ways restaurants can make sure they get positive exposure on Yelp:

How to Use Yelp to Help Build Your Business’s Reputation

  1. Fill out All Information. As discussed above, Yelp offers a lot of information about a business. It is the job of the owner (or marketing department) to fill out all of this information completely and keep it up to date. Although it is a bit lengthy, it will certainly pay off in the long run. To get started creating your page, click here.
  1. Respond to Reviews. Recently, Yelp made it possible for businesses to respond to reviews. If your business gets a negative review, you must respond in a respectful way. This will not only give you the chance to regain that customer, but other customers will see that you are involved and learning from your mistakes.
  1. Advertise. This site allows businesses to advertise offers and discounts to potential customers. Your offer will be placed on the ‘Announcements and Offers’ tab for all to see. If your restaurant seems dead on a cold Tuesday night, just put out a discount on the site! It only takes about two minutes to create.
  1. Social Networking. The site also works as a social networking site for customers. Work to build your “friends” by seeing who is reviewing your business and interacting via comments (even the good ones). You can also sync up your Yelp profile with your other social networks for extra exposure.
  1. Badges. Badges is a great way to let your customers know you’re on Yelp if they are visiting your website. All you have to do is embed a code Yelp will provide onto your website, and then people will be able to see how many positive reviews your company has under its belt.

For a more advanced look at Yelp optimization and how to make it work for you, check out this article I published over at Search Engine Watch. Once you get started, let us know your experiences and your thoughts in the comment section below.