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Yelp is one of today’s most popular online review sites, with the unique ability to influence consumer behavior and purchase decisions.
Founded in 2004, Yelp has also become one of the top platforms for businesses looking to build their reputation, improve search visibility, and drive more people to their business locations.
- According to the Online Reviews Survey by ReviewTrackers, approximately 45 percent of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Yelp before visiting a business. Yelp’s percentage is only second to Google’s (64 percent).
- According to Nielsen, 74 percent of the consumers searching online for a local business turn to review sites like Yelp. Moreover, 92 percent of consumers make a purchase after visiting Yelp at least sometimes, frequently or almost always.
Why Try to Get Yelp Reviews?
One of the ways to drive business results from Yelp is by proactively working to get Yelp reviews.
More reviews — provided, of course, they aren’t mostly negative reviews — can lead to greater visibility on Yelp and in search engine results. Having a sufficient number of reviews on your Yelp business page can also give your business the kind of social proof needed to inspire consumer confidence and foster customer loyalty.
This means: more traffic (online and offline), better sales, increased revenue.
(Not yet listed on Yelp? Take control of your brand and read our guide on how to claim your business on Yelp.)
The biggest challenge: complying with Yelp guidelines
The biggest challenge you will face as far as trying to get more Yelp reviews is that the review site prohibits businesses from proactively asking their customers for reviews.
Yelp’s content guidelines and terms of service strongly advise against “asking customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.” The site’s recommendation software is also designed to weed out reviews that have been solicited or requested.
Asking customers for Yelp reviews can lead to consequences like: hurting your Yelp rating, getting your business page slapped with Consumer Alerts, or losing your page visibility should Yelp decide to penalize your business.
How to Get Yelp Reviews
The businesses that perform well on Yelp are the ones that provide a 5-star customer experience to everyone who walks in the door, without any expectation or encouragement that they write a review.
There are also a few smart and savvy ways you can encourage customers to review your business on Yelp — without violating Yelp guidelines. Here are some of them:
Don’t ask, but do give a “heads up”
If you’re simply letting customers know that your business is on Yelp without being overly solicitous, you’re not violating Yelp guidelines. Instead of actively pursuing reviews, work on creating awareness of your business presence on the review site. The message you’re communicating should be clear: “Check us out on Yelp” instead of “Review us on Yelp.”
On your website, add a link to your Yelp business page. Share the same link on your social media profiles. You can even insert it in business emails as part of your email signature.
Also look into promoting your Yelp presence in printed media like business cards, brochures, etc. Just be sure to follow Yelp guidelines for using logos, reviews, and star ratings.
Use review widgets on your website
Displaying Yelp reviews on your website can help build your credibility and drive more customers to your business. Even if you don’t have a lot of Yelp reviews yet, using review widgets is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your Yelp business page.
And with more traffic, you can get more Yelp reviews.
You can use the free Yelp review widgets (the site calls them “badges”) to showcase reviews on your website. These badges are updated automatically every time a Yelper writes a review of your business.
Or, better yet, use Amplify by ReviewTrackers. Amplify offers different types of review widgets. You can highlight your highest-rated reviews with the Testimonial Carousel widget. You can showcase reviews for a specific business location with the Location Review Feed widget. Or you can display a real-time overview of your business’ overall rating with the Star Snapshot widget.
Respond to reviews
Responding to reviews on Yelp helps you strengthen your reputation on the review site.
Sure, it’s a way to recover critics and detractors, as well as to improve a customer’s impression of overall experience. But it’s also a subtle way to encourage customers to review your business on Yelp. After all, when people see how responsive a business is, the more likely they are to submit their feedback.
According to Yelp research, customers are 33 percent more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalized message within a day. Meanwhile, businesses that ignore complaints on review sites experience a 37 percent decline in customer advocacy.
Constructively address concerns when you see them. Avoid cookie-cutter responses that do not resolve or address any specific issues raised in the review. Sometimes even positive comments and 5-star ratings may include points of concern that the customer wants to discuss with you.
Need inspiration on what to write in your response? Check out these examples of how to respond to reviews (positive or negative).
Take advantage of Yelp branding
If your business is listed on Yelp, you have access to free Yelp stickers and signage through your Yelp for Business Owners dashboard.
These stickers and signages can help you inspire shopper confidence and gain credibility by letting customers know that others have reviewed your business. They can also encourage people who have visited your location to engage with your business on Yelp, and to share their experience and feedback on one of the world’s most popular review sites.
Here are some types of Yelp stickers and signages you can use to promote your business:
- Find Us on Yelp sticker. Yelp-listed businesses can easily request a “Find Us on Yelp” sticker in order to promote your business and drive engagement with Yelp users. Simply fill out this form and allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.
- “People Love Us On Yelp” window cling. These window clings are sent in an automated direct mail batch twice a year to businesses that qualify for this program. While Yelp does not issue these Yelp signages upon request, you’ll be receiving one if your business qualifies. Businesses with “People Love Us On Yelp” window clings can use it as a badge of recognition for outstanding performance, not dissimilar to the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
- Other Yelp branding. Yelp also has its own online print shop where you can find customizable business cards, hours signage, and other items to remind visitors that you’re on Yelp. You can create and order these items in minutes, with free standard shipping.
For more information, read our guide to using Yelp stickers.
Share your best Yelp reviews
Even though Yelp advises against businesses asking for reviews, this doesn’t mean you can’t handpick your best Yelp reviews and use them as testimonials.
Share your reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and online and offline marketing materials. Remember: the impact of user-generated content is more powerful and effective than loud sales messages or promotional brand content.
What this also does is “activate” customers who haven’t yet written a review, but are already big fans of your business. When they see that you give special shout-out to reviewers, this may serve as the perfect nudge that will get them to write their own reviews on Yelp.
If you get Yelp reviews that you’d like to share, be sure to obtain permission from the reviewer and provide attribution. Also attribute Yelp as the source using the website’s aforementioned brand guidelines.
Turn Yelp visitors into customers
Yelp offers paid tools and services designed to help you grow your business and turn Yelp visitors into customers. Examples include: Yelp Call to Action, Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates, and Yelp Check-In Offers.
While businesses should not use these tools in exchange for reviews, they can be used as a way to get customers in the door and eventually position them to leave a review of your business.
Yelp Call to Action buttons help businesses promote a desired transaction directly from their Yelp business page. The desired transaction can be anything from scheduling an appointment, printing out a coupon, or buying tickets to an event. The offer appears on the listing, and is designed to attract people who are ready to make a spending decision.
(Read the Yelp Call to Action guide.)
Yelp Deals are discounted vouchers that customers can purchase for your business. And Yelp Gift Certificates are non-discounted vouchers that customers can purchase for variable amounts.
Lastly, Yelp Check-In Offers are a way to reward customers with a special offer when they “check-in” to your business on Yelp. By checking in, they broadcast to their friends on Yelp that they’re at your business location. Using Check-In Offers can help encourage new visitors and reward loyal customers.
By following these smart and savvy ways to get Yelp reviews of your business, you can build your reputation without violating Yelp guidelines. These reviews will also help your business attract new customers, become more visible in search, and positively impact your bottom line.