Yelp is THE ‘online urban guide and business review website”. As of October, 2014 it will have held that title for 10 years. It is the precursor of Local SEO, and has become one of the most important – misunderstood – and misused tool in small business internet marketing.
Yelp continues to grow rapidly in 2014. Despite the fact that Yelp is considered unprofitable, their last quarter showed tremendous growth . Yelp delivered a 66% increase its revenue, to $76.4 million, in the first quarter of 2014.
Yelp is currently establishing partnerships with Yahoo! and YP.com, while their current relationship with Microsoft’s Bing and Apple Maps continues to grow. These gives Yelp stronger growth opportunities.
But as their business improves, so do the opportunities and exposure for local businesses. Yelp is working hard to attract more customers.
How to Use Yelp to Improve Your Business Success
If you are not investing in Yelp and Local SEO then you overlook one of the most lucrative markets – local, walk-in shoppers.
Citations play a significant roll in today’s business’ success. Their growth is fueled by customer reviews which grew 46% to 57 million in 2013. The increase in customer reviews spured a growth in active local business accounts, up 65% from last year to 74,000.
The stronger Yelp grows, the more consumers will use it to find local businesses. Your business. This will fuel the expansion of citation and local SEO services, increasing their importance as an SEO tool and a ‘sale’s tool.’
How to Make Yelp Work For Your Business?
Yelp empowers consumers. It takes all the hard work out of shopping online. As the number of consumers who shop from mobile devices reaches, and surpass, 50%, the importance of local SEO strategies will improve. The trend toward customer-centric engagement will continue to drive internet marketing.
The main problem is that most small businesses know what needs to be done:
Push down Bad Reviews
Write reviews people will read
Build Trust with Consumers
Incite an emotional response
Convert shoppers into buyers
The problem is that knowing ‘what’ needs to be done will not help businesses succeed. It is important to learn ‘how’ to do it. Not all reviews have the same weight. Sometimes a marketing company can help, but if they are not a true marketing company they may cause more damage than good.
Here are a few things that might help you understand why your business is losing sales to companies who do not appear to be marketing.
Push Bad Reviews Down
There is one thing that all small business’s fear: Trolls.
These are people who want to rant or flame. They have a beef. They want to vent. They find a vulnerable business and leave, lengthy, and unwarranted negative reviews. Some are disgruntled employees, an angry neighbor, or a perfect stranger.’
It is not hard for a Troll to destroy a business within a few months, unless their victim knows ‘how’ to fight back.
It takes a marketing company to get ‘real’ reviews and push down negative reviews, but there are three things you can do to minimize the damage:
1. Don’t feed the trolls.
The Yelp game is not a fun game to play. As Peter Blackshaw confirms, “Satisfied customers tell 3 people, angry customers tell 3,000.” Getting into an argument with Trolls you increase the exposure, and risk falling into their trap.
Remember that trolls rarely attack just one business. They have experience. This is their game. And in any gamble ‘never play another man’s game.’
2. Engage Users in Social Networking
Marketers should be seen as a ‘partnership.’ The more you give them to work with, the more they can do.
The more active you are online, the more ‘real’ you appear. People who are ‘real’ are difficult for Trolls to target. It is also easier to push down negative reviews on active social networking sites.
It is difficult to collect positive reviews. However, if you active online then your positive reviews will be supplemented by conversations, profiles, and forums where you have posted. This makes it easier for consumers to find positive reviews.
3. Ask For Reviews
Beware of engaging in collecting reviews. This is illegal and the government are prosecuting offenders. This doesn’t mean you cannot ask for reviews, and even offer some incentive. The trick is to know how to protect yourself legally from prosecution if anyone challenges the validity of the reviews.