If you’ve followed our blog for a while you should know that the more inbound links and keywords found online regarding your website, should theoretically boost your SEO. But what about online reviews? Online review websites such as Yelp, Zagat, and even stores themselves can make or break a purchase decision. In an age of content shock and an overabundance of products and services, it’s become increasingly important for marketers (and small business owners) to be present at a consumer’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is the moment before a purchase decision and it is crucial to gaining brand awareness in an age of ever-present technology.
The Power of Yelp
[Images are screenshots, edited on Picmonkey]
If you are a small business owner, you likely know the importance of online reviews. They can sway the opinion of a potential customer in seconds, the outcome being either good or bad for your business. According to Search Engine Land’s post on whether or not Yelp really matters, Yelp is definitely important for SEO. Nowadays Google does take into account a company’s presence on Yelp. Google measures things like how many reviews a business has on Yelp, and how positive each review is. Google then factors this into their search engine ranking accordingly. Since Google’s Pigeon update rolled out, Yelp now shows up higher on the SERP than ever before. When typing in the name of a restaurant, Google most likely returns results that have Yelp within the first three results. This is good news for Yelp and (potentially) good news for the small business owner. In an age of localized search and mobile phones, it’s important for small business owners to take advantage of Yelp. Below are four steps to fully utilizing Yelp for your small business.
Step #1: Claim your business.
Claim your business on Yelp. According to Search Engine Land’s article on Google Maps, Yelp and Local SEO in 2015, once you’ve claimed your business, you are able to be “active” on Yelp. This includes everything from updating information to responding to reviews and uploading photos. Doing this not only lets Google know you are active and present on Yelp and therefore are worthy of higher search rank, but it also allows you to monitor the feedback on your small business.
Step #2: Keep your information consistent and up-to-date.
Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all your platforms, whether it’s your social media, your website, or your blog. Google attempts to “verify” businesses on Yelp using contact information. So long as your information is consistent, you should be verified, which will in turn help your search ranking.
Step #3: Encourage customers to leave a review (to a point).
As a small business owner, it could benefit you to encourage customers to write a Yelp review for you. In a day and age where Yelp reviews are one of the first things consumers look at, it’s beneficial for you to have a good amount of positive reviews. If your reviews happen to be mostly negative, there’s no way to really hide Yelp from the SERP. That being said, if you find that you have a good amount of negative reviews, the only thing I can suggest is addressing them. So, how should you encourage Yelp reviews? You may or may not have noticed that some businesses display a sticker in their window that says something like “Review us on Yelp!” or “People Love us on Yelp!”. This is one way to let your customers know that you appreciate positive Yelp reviews. Don’t go too crazy with this option, however, because the goal of websites like Yelp are to provide the most honest, reliable information on businesses. If you’re product is great and your service is reliable, you should not have a problem in this area.
Step #4: Engage, engage, engage
As with any social media platform, it’s always best practice to actively engage with your customers. If someone leaves a lovely review of your business, respond and let them know that you appreciate it! If someone leaves a critique or a less positive review, respond and tell them you will address the issue ASAP. Customer service and customer engagement is everything!
Bottom line? You MUST be on Yelp and other online review websites. Ever since Google’s Pigeon update, these review websites often rank higher than a company’s actual website. It’s crucial for you to have a presence on review websites. Have any other tips for navigating Yelp and other review websites? Leave suggestions in the comments below.