It has been a little over three months since Yahoo and Yelp announced a partnership where Yahoo was to integrate Yelp reviews into their search results. The idea behind this partnership was to beef up Yahoo’s local search.
For many businesses, this meant good news. For other companies, particularly local brick-and-mortar shops, the integration did not pan out well. In fact, what was conveyed as integration was instead a rollout of Yelp reviews that excluded any reviews a business might have accrued in their Yahoo Local business profile.
Many businesses discovered, to their horror, that the traffic and leads formerly generated by Yahoo were no longer there. Since the partnership kicked off in March of this year, many anxious business owners have been scrambling to find a solution to this conundrum. For some it has been a win, while for others it has been a partial negative hit, as their Yahoo leads have diminished. For those that were, to a large degree, dependent on Yahoo Local business pages, the disappearance of positive reviews from their profile has introduced disastrous consequences.
We wholeheartedly congratulate small businesses benefiting from this change. Especially for those with a strong Yelp profile, this was nothing but good news. If a business happens not to be part of this fortuitous change, and it is currently struggling to recover, we want to remind you that there are ways you can help correct this problem, while learning important strategic lessons from it.
Work to overcome your review shortage
It is important to realize that your Yahoo Local reviews are not coming back.
Initially, many understood this integration as a way in which Yelp reviews would be combined with existing Yahoo reviews, but that is not the case. When concerns began to arise regarding the disappearing reviews, Yahoo released this statement via their spokesperson: “We partnered with Yelp, one of the most trusted, relevant sources of consumer business reviews, to provide a richer search experience for Yahoo users. That’s why when Yelp’s reviews are available for U.S. businesses, they will replace Yahoo Local reviews.”
Your plan should not be to wait for your reviews to be reinstated, but rather you should seek out opportunities to generate buzz that will lead to newly minted reviews on Yelp.
So take ownership of your Yelp profile and incorporate offline collateral that helps drive reviews, such as Yelp stickers or Yelp website badges. Engage in conversation by responding to your existing Yelp reviews in a way that is SEO-friendly and brand-enhancing. Finally, consider running promos designed to increase volume that, in turn, can result in additional reviews for your Yelp profile, highlighting a great experience associated with tremendous value.
Resort to your loyal offline customer base
If you have been in business for a while, a drop in new leads should be used as an opportunity to pull your Rolodex and mailing list. As a member of your local community, you are likely to have customers who are deeply loyal to your business and would love to hear from you. By engaging them again and introducing them to product or service improvements, you stand a good chance of having them generate a second customer review. By working on generating additional business from existing customers, you reduce your cost per acquisition and increase the potential of word-of-mouth referrals.
Implement a strategy of diversification for online engagement
The big lesson for all of us is to never forget the value of channel diversification. Identify all online platforms and major review sites responsible for lead generation, and make it a point to groom and manage each review website with diligence.
Seek to engage your customers by responding to their reviews, inviting them to participate when the site allows it (think TripAdvisor) and setting the stage for outstanding experiences that can inspire a customer to drop a good word about your business in their preferred review site.
To fully implement a diversification strategy, you must have the tools in place to get a full picture of how and where your customer is voicing their opinion. If a high-relevance review site is lagging behind in velocity, explore the possibility of using any and all innovations that review site might have rolled out.
Facebook Menus, for example, is likely to be a good tool to engage a customer prior to a restaurant visit, which could result in a review. Because of the recency of their engagement with Facebook, your customer is twice as likely to drop a review on Facebook before they consider other review sites.
The quicker you become proactive in normalizing your review density, the quicker you will see your Yahoo leads return to normal. Don’t waste any time thinking about it. Take action and make it work for you today.
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