Customer-review site Yelp is partnering with Yahoo to help power up its local search results, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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According to the report, Yelp listings and reviews will be incorporated into Yahoo search results in the next few weeks.
Small business marketing expert Harley Lever says Yelp is an essential tool for any small business – regardless of any relationship with Yahoo.
“More often than not, the businesses I work with are getting referrals from Yelp over Yahoo,” says Lever, who is the CEO of digital marketing firm WeSprout. Lever works with 70 small business clients to manage efforts on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter, among other platforms.
Here are Lever’s tips for small businesses looking to maximize their presence on Yelp:
No. 1: Provide as much information as possible.
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“Fill out everything on Yelp – every field,” says Lever. He says the more information you provide, the more likely a customer is to reach out or plan a visit.
No. 2: Supply your own professional photos.
On Yelp, users are encouraged to post their own photos of their experiences, but Lever says business owners shouldn’t rely on this.
“Provide a nice set of pictures where people can see your products and your features,” says Lever, who adds that smartphone photos can make your business look less than flattering.
No. 3: Link to your website.
Lever says that some small businesses try to use Yelp as their website – a major no-no.
“If you don’t have a website, you’re a decade and a half behind. Get a website!” says Lever. Then, provide a prominent link on the Yelp page to the website.
No. 4: Respond to all customer feedback – good or bad.
“The purpose of Yelp is to build rapport,” says Lever. He says that by responding to both good and bad reviews, you are helping to cement a relationship between you and your customers that will be appreciated by both the commenter and other Yelp users.
“If new people are looking at your service, they’ll think, these guys like to take care of customers,” explains Lever.
No. 5: Take the high road.
Negative reviews happen – but they’re not the end of the world. Lever says the important thing is to take bad comments in stride and respond graciously, without fighting back.
“Even if it would feel great to blow that mean customer out of the water, don’t. It will be there for decades for others to see,” says Lever. He says all owners can learn what not to do from the proprietors of Amy’s Bakery, whose negative Yelp responses went viral last year.
No. 6: Encourage reviews.
Lever has his clients create contests around social media to get customers to post reviews on Facebook and Yelp.
“Find the power Yelpers and incentivize them,” says Lever. Whether it’s offering a discount or a free product or service, sweetening the deal will help you rake in the reviews.