Before consumers purchase a product or service, they're likely to get recommendations from family or friends, crowdsource feedback on social media, compare prices, and most importantly, check an online review site like Yelp.
As a small-business owner, you have to cultivate your online presence across a range of platforms and channels to grab customers' attention—and Yelp is one of those platforms. At the end of 2020, the site had more than 224 million reviews. If you haven't yet created a Yelp profile or made changes to improve an existing one, you may be missing a prime opportunity to attract and engage more customers.
What is a Yelp profile?
Yelp, which was founded in 2004, is one of the most popular sites where consumers can find local business information and reviews. More than 90 million people visit Yelp every month to find different service providers and local establishments.
The site features businesses in nearly every industry category, from home and local services to restaurants, health and beauty, auto, travel, and arts and entertainment. There are so many businesses on Yelp that consumers can use it to find, for instance, both a local plumber and a Friday night takeout spot. They can also use the platform to interact with businesses and leave feedback about their experience in the form of a star rating or review. Users can rate a business on a one- to five-star scale or leave a detailed review on the business's profile page.
As a small-business owner, your Yelp profile is essentially the digital front door to your business. Your profile, which is the equivalent of a business listing you'd find in an online directory, is a single page that can pull as much weight as a full website in the sense that it gives potential customers important information about your business, products and services, and what makes you unique. It's also a valuable resource for connecting with customers and getting near real-time feedback from them.
How to create a business Yelp profile.
In most cases, Yelp may already have a profile page for your business. You just need to create a free account to claim it.
All you need to do is head to Yelp.com, click on the "For Businesses" tab at the top of the page, and then create a free account. Once you do this, you can claim your profile and begin building it out.
You can add photos to your profile page along with important business information, including a link to your website, business telephone number, location and hours of operation, and details on the services you offer. This is also an opportunity to add specific business highlights, such as whether your company is woman-, Black-, or Latinx-owned; how long you've been in business; and any special promotions you offer. Although it's free to create a profile, some features like "Highlights from the Business" and adding call-to-action buttons come at a cost if you want to upgrade your profile page.
Even without these premium features, you can still get a lot of value from Yelp. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can add professional photos of your menu items. If you're a home remodeler, you can post before-and-after images of the kitchen or basement renovations you've completed and ask the homeowners you've worked with to leave reviews. All of these things can help you build a positive brand reputation and expand your customer base.
How to improve your Yelp profile.
If you already have a profile but want to improve it, consider taking advantage of some of Yelp's premium features. Yelp Connect, for example, allows you to post regular updates to your profile page to help users learn more about your business. Yelp promotes these posts in its app and weekly emails, which reach more than 5 million users each week.
If you're not ready to make an investment in premium or upgraded features, one of the simplest and most effective things you can do is respond to customer reviews. This doesn't need to be a manual, time-consuming process, either. You can use an online review management solution to receive real-time alerts that allow you to easily monitor and respond to customer feedback. Automating this process is critical because a few negative reviews can deter loyal customers from coming back to your business or first-time customers from visiting altogether. Not responding to negative reviews might also give people the impression that you're ignoring your customers or that there's truth to what reviewers are saying. By being responsive, acknowledging mistakes, and trying to make things right with customers via a future promotion or free offer, you may be able to boost your brand reputation and retain more customers.
Making the most of Yelp.
Online review sites like Yelp are important parts of your business's online presence. As a business owner today, you have to be nearly everywhere your customers are—or at the very least, on the most popular channels they use.
Yelp has millions of users who leave reviews nearly every day, so your business can't afford to ignore this channel or your profile page. Use your Yelp profile to tell your business's unique story, monitor reviews, and respond to customer feedback. Making this effort will leave users with a good first impression of your business—one that you can build on to turn them into loyal customers.