Best Practices When Using Yelp for Business

We’re all guilty of it! At one point or another we’ve all had such a bad experience with a business that we want to tell everyone and their mother so the company doesn’t make another cent off of you and your friends. It’s well known that word of mouth can be damaging enough; however, in this day and age angry customers quickly take to Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, blogs and, of course, Yelp. These social channels are great when you’re the one venting about the barista that gave you sass for ordering a large latte instead of a “grande,” but what about the business owners on the opposite end of that post, tweet, check-in or review?

It should come as no surprise to those owners when I say that it’s a consumer-driven world and they’re just living in it (as long as they keep us customers happy, that is). A study done by Marketing Charts states that your angry customers are 50% more likely to share their negative opinions on social media than your content consumers. So, how are you supposed to use sites like Yelp to increase your rankings online with all the negative Nancy’s out there?

Here are a few best practices that can help you leverage Yelp to strengthen your business and increase your rankings online.

You Gotta Risk it to Get the Biscuit

One way to lessen the impact of negative reviews on Yelp is to have an overwhelming number of positive opinions for every critical comment (Check out our tips on responding). In order to do that, you have to attain more reviews. Now, before you start asking all your happy-go-lucky customers for their opinions, you should know that there’s a right and a wrong way to go about this.

When it comes to increasing the number of Yelp ratings for your company, it's definitely frowned upon to beg only the customers you think will help improve your ratings. Buying reviews is also out of the question unless you want to see the image below plastered on your page for all the world to see (just ask these guys.)


Have no fear! There are ways to legitimately increase the number of comments on your page. However, this is where the risk factor comes into play. It's important to understand that while increasing the number of reviews enhances the possibility of inflated ratings, it also has the potential to hurt your business in a big way.

You have to encourage ALL your customers to write a review in order to see a worthwhile impact; however, you should only do this when you believe in your product, client, or business. If you’re not starting from scratch and already have an account with negative reviews, you have to trust that the feedback you receive will help counter the poor existing comments. This Search Engine Watch article touches on some strategies that could be used to promote writing Yelp reviews to your customers. For example, you can:

  • Promote Yelp on your company’s website
  • Put a link to Yelp in your employee’s email signatures
  • Place a link within your newsletters
  • Put a link to Yelp in a consumer’s emailed receipt and ask them to share their experience (if you’re an e-commerce company)

These methods will help you to pull in more comments and reviews, but there is no guarantee they will be favorable to your business. That’s why you have to know how to handle the negative feedback.

Handling the Haters

Companies are going to get bad reviews. It's bound to happen. Resist the urge to curl up in a ball and cry every time you get one. Also resist the urge to flag every negative review your company receives just because you don’t like the content. (On the contrary, if it violates Yelp’s terms of service, by all means, flag away.)

It’s well known that Yelp, as well as other social channels, can make or break your business all based on the opinion of your customers. However, also similar to other social mediums, communication between you and your consumer is easier than ever. This ease of communication is one of the many reasons why you should take the opportunity to address your haters.

A business comes across as more trustworthy when they bridge the gap between them and their consumers. After a poor experience many customers will avoid a company entirely, however, these negative reviews offer businesses a chance at redemption. By addressing a customer’s concerns you’re letting them know that their voice is heard and that their opinion matters.

True, you may not change their mind. But looking forward, your response may ease the apprehensions of a future customer. A response (or lack thereof) can really define your company for better or for worse.

Embrace the Hate

Yelp is not just a site that helps local search rankings and facilitates communication between business and consumer. This social medium can act like a report card for your business. Like I mentioned before, people are going to write bad reviews. However, it’s important to be able to differentiate between the people offering constructive criticism from the customers that had a bad day and want to take it out on your Yelp page.

If you can figure out which customers have legitimate concerns, it may help improve your business overall. If these valid concerns appear frequently, it could mean that you need to change something about the way you do things.

Those poor reviews can be used to improve your business and shape the future of your company. You can’t beat the Debbie Downers, so you might as well benefit from what they have to say.

As for the negative reviews that offer no value to a company whatsoever, take a look at how the co-founder of Liberty Bottleworks, Ryan Clark, took on a raging customer. I don’t suggest answering every outrageous review with a extensive and comprehensive response, but it goes to show that these replies really carry weight with consumers. Just some food for thought!

Google has made some interesting changes to GMB for local SEO's keep them in mind as not everything is about yelp.

If you would like to know more about how to handle negative Yelp reviews, take a look at some other articles I found helpful:


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