How to Optimize Your Yelp Profile for Local Business Exposure

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More and more customers are going online to find information about a business rather than visiting a traditional storefront. In fact, 3 out of 4 consumers go to third-party platforms, like Google and Yelp, to interact with local businesses.

This migration online for business information has made reviews even more important in our competitive digital world. If a company has lackluster reviews on Yelp, Google, or Facebook, chances are potential customers will seek a company that is more trustworthy. According to HubSpot, 97% of people learn more about a local company through online research. In the face of such overwhelming consistency, it is evidently more important than ever to ensure your reviews are accessible to your target audience.

Enter Yelpthe number one influence in customers’ final purchase decisions among all review sites. People go to Yelp to find reputable and trustworthy companies for specific purposes, making the platform an excellent way to get in front of your target audience’s eyes. Advertising with Yelp is a great way to achieve this goal, but before you spend thousands of dollars, make sure it’s right for your business. Find out if your targeted audience is on Yelp. Make sure your profile is optimized. Then assess whether advertising on this review platform is right for you. And, if all else fails, contact us, and we’ll help you make an informed decision for your business.

Optimizing your Yelp profile is fairly simple, but you might be surprised at how many companies choose to forgo using this platform. As a Yelp Certified Partner, we know the best tips and tricks to help make your profile optimized and stand out from the crowd. We reveal our secret sauce below.

Setting Up Your Yelp Local Business Profile

Standing out from the crowd and showcasing what makes your business different from your competitor’s is essential when building and optimizing your profile. Whether it’s highlighting a unique take on a traditional food dish, writing a quick story about how your business got started, or by stating how your company or service can solve your customers’ needs, there are many effective ways to make your business stand out while remaining authentic to your brand.

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While creating your profile and writing your company information, be sure to include relevant keywords. Optimizing your page this way bolsters your organic search results within the site. This is a win-win: even if you don’t use Yelp ads, your business will still be shown towards the top of search results. If you decide to combine your organic strategy with the paid approach, you’ll have a powerful combination to find more customers through Yelp. 

Claim Your Business

With Yelp, typically you don’t have to start your profile from scratch. In most cases, all you have to do is claim it to start customizing and optimizing it. Even if you personally haven’t added your company to Yelp, chances are it’s already listed there. You’ll want to search for it under the Yelp for Business Owners by business name and address. If your business isn’t already listed on Yelp, you’ll want to find the “Add Your Business” option. From there it’s all about building and refining your profile.

Update Your Information

With 3 out of 4 consumers looking to third party sites (like Yelp and Google) to find information about local business, it’s essential that you create a unified plan with consistent information across all search platforms. An easy way to do this is by enlisting a business listing management service like Yext, which instantly updates your information everywhere across hundreds of business listing websites, including the big dogs like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more. This can save you a lot of time and headaches down the road if your information isn’t updated uniformly.

Page Upgrades

Utilizing Yelp’s page upgrade options are another way to differentiate and optimize your profile. While not necessary if you’re looking to keep Yelp free for your business, these upgrades do come with a few added perks, including an editable slideshow, CTA buttons, and a highlight bar. But before you dive into these paid options, make sure your profile is fully optimized before you start paying for features. Experimenting with these options first can give you an idea if paid ads will be worth it for your business down the line. We’re also happy to help evaluate if you’re in a good position for Yelp Ads – contact Jack & Bean for a free Yelp consultation.

Photography

Another powerful promotion tool that’s actually free is relevant photography. Professional images that can positively convey your products, services, and location(s) can do more than any quantity of words can – and much quicker – which is crucial when considering the shrinking attention spans of consumers. Whether you’re capturing your amazing food dishes, or the relaxing spa environment your customers can expect, pictures speak volumes and support what you claim through text.

yelp local business services phoenix agency

You can also go above-and-beyond, and hire a photographer to professionally capture the crucial visual elements of your business. This can often be less expensive than you would expect, with many experienced freelancers starting at just a few hundred dollars. If you’re in the Phoenix area, contact us for a referral!

Business Recommendations

This is a free aspect of any Yelp profile that links to other businesses on the platform. You can team up with some local non-competitors and link to each other’s Yelp pages. This gets you more exposure on other company pages, in turn building your reach on Yelp, while also helping out other businesses you support.

Gaining Yelp Reviews

Once you’ve developed and updated your Yelp profile, the next step is gaining reviews. While it’s tempting to start asking people to review your business to jump-start your page, Yelp has strict review policies around how you can acquire reviews from customers to protect the integrity of their platform:

  • Never ask your customers to leave a review. (But you are encouraged to ask them to “check-in” on Yelp!)
  • Never create a competition between your employees to see who can gain the most reviews.
  • Never offer freebies in exchange for reviews.
  • Never use surveys to prompt a review from people who were satisfied with your business or service.

A good rule of thumb is if it’s not a natural review, then it most likely goes against their review policy and is more likely to be filtered out by their algorithm. You can even be penalized within their organic search results, so adhering to their rules is critical to ensure your profile is reaching the most potential customers.

While Yelp’s review policies may seem restrictive, they are there to deter business owners from only soliciting positive reviews, which is against the nature of their platform. Yelp is intended to convey an unbiased spread of business reviews for increased accuracy. Although the system isn’t perfect, it definitely shows more regular criticism than platforms like Google. Google actually encourages soliciting reviews and therefore contain a much larger portion of 5-star ratings, since businesses can cherry pick them through solicitation. Of the two, we prefer Yelp’s approach, honestly.

yelp local business reviews phoenix agency

Ethical Yelp Reviews

Despite Yelp’s restrictions, there are some easy ways you can start gaining reviews on your business profile without violating Yelp’s review policies.

Yelp’s biggest “loophole” they recommend as a moral alternative to asking customers directly for reviews is to instead prompt them to check-in on Yelp. You’re simply encouraging them to interact with the platform. Yelp will then reach out “objectively” later to prompt them via email or push notification to review their experience with your business. While that may seem like splitting hairs, not being prompted selectively to review by the business directly is quite different from a review platform prompting one objectively due to activity.

Increasing the awareness of your profile and presence on Yelp, through ways like encouraging checking in, is an effective way to grow the number of reviews you get. This is done by including the Yelp badge on your website to keep your profile top of mind. You can also have signs and stickers provided at no charge from Yelp in your physical locations that say things like, “Check Us Out On Yelp!” This acts as a heads up and raises awareness that you’re on the platform, but doesn’t specifically solicit a review.

The somewhat unfortunate reality about reviews is that the majority of people typically only leave a review when they’re really satisfied with a company, or very unsatisfied, with little in between. While negative reviews are never something to look forward to, a good way to handle them is by simply responding. Responding to reviews has several positive impacts that customers will notice:

  • It shows that you’re actively monitoring your Yelp profile
  • It shows that you care what others have to say about your business
  • It shows that you’re willing to accept feedback, especially negative feedback, to improve your company

You can even respond to positive reviews as well, but by staying on top of your negative reviews, you’ll show other potential customers you care and will address any outlying negative experience they might have, which hopefully – according to your ratings – should be rare.

In addition to business listing management, our Yext offerings also provide a unified interface for monitoring and responding to reviews, a crucial aspect to managing your online reputation.

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Local Yelp Business Profiles: Free to Control, Paid to Promote

When you’ve finished optimizing your Yelp profile and start gaining some reviews, the next step in your profile evolution would be to look at Yelp ads. While optimizing your Yelp profile is essential to any business on the platform, it will only get you so far. Advertising on Yelp will help expand your reach more than any amount of optimization. 

While we have a whole article dedicated to the ins and outs of Yelp advertising, there are a few key takeaways to understand:

  • Paid Yelp profiles will appear before any organic search results
  • Your profile will show up on other unpaid profiles
  • Paid Yelp profiles will remove competitor ads on your profile

When it comes down to it, there are many ways to make Yelp worthwhile for your company. Whether you’re looking for guidance optimizing your free Yelp profile, or already have that crucial step complete and want to explore the world of paid Yelp ads, we’re here to help. If you’re looking to grow your business and would like a free consultation regarding Yelp, contact Jack & Bean today! 

In-House Marketing vs Agency: Which One is Best?

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The decision of whether to build an in-house marketing team or outsource your marketing needs to an agency is one that most successful, growing businesses will come to eventually. While you might expect us to say that hiring a marketing agency is the best decision (and most often it is) our honest opinion is that it’s really is up to the business to determine what will work best for them. Deciding between these two avenues, or taking a hybrid route with a little bit of each, entirely depends on the company and their unique set of circumstances like marketing budget, goals, and in-house team already hired/qualified, just to name a few.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules to determining which marketing avenue will be best for you, we’ve laid out some additional factors to consider when evaluating your company and marketing needs. Some swing towards having an in-house marketing team, while other marketing tasks could be handled better by an agency like us at Jack & Bean. So read on and if at the end of it you’re still unsure what route is best for you, feel free to contact us. We’ll discuss your marketing goals and see what option might be a good fit for you, and give you our honest recommendations.

Your Marketing Goals

Every company and their marketing strategy is different. What might be wildly successful for one company in a specific industry could be a downright fail for another. Taking a step back and looking at your overall marketing goals and strategy is a good place to start when entering the in-house marketing vs. agency debate. If your current goal is to increase the amount of leads you’re getting, inbound marketing tactics like SEO could help increase leads. If you’re hoping to improve your ratio of leads converted into customers, then a creating or improving an email nurturing campaign might improve your results.

Taking a look at these goals can help you evaluate what steps you’ll need to go through to achieve them. If you already have talent on your marketing team that’s capable of achieving these goals, then you probably don’t need an agency’s help. Conversely, if what you’re hoping to achieve opens up a new marketing avenue that isn’t well developed within your company, an agency could help bring you up to speed quickly. If you’re not sure what you want your end goal to look like, an experienced marketing agency can strategize with you to determine that too through some billable discovery that can be invaluable.

How Quickly You Need to Develop and Execute a Marketing Strategy

Depending on your company’s situation, you might need to develop and execute a new marketing plan immediately. If your competitor rolled out a game-changing customer interface that makes their purchasing process streamlined and easy, and is noticeably resulting in your company losing sales, you’ll obviously need to react very quickly to ensure you’re staying competitive. If you go the route of posting the needed job online, collecting resumes, conducting interviews, and finally hiring someone to come in and update your website, you could lose thousands in sales by the time your company is competitive again.

marketing strategy in house agency

This is one of the areas where a marketing agency has real firepower to jump in to quickly and efficiently make changes and updates to help your company stay competitive. If you need a new functionality added to your website, a developer at the agency can quickly implement it. If you need a new marketing campaign pushed out quickly, the various experts at an agency can work together to pull the needed assets together for a cohesive campaign.

Conversely, depending on how you build out your in-house marketing team, you could have the necessary skill sets already on your team to make updates quickly and efficiently without the need of a marketing agency. This can also largely depend on the industry you’re in. If there’s constant disruption and need for innovation, a marketing agency could be the right option to keep the marketing engine working at full speed to keep up with the constant change. It all depends on finding the solution that’s right for your company.

Skill Sets and Brainpower Needed

Piggybacking off the previous section, the skill sets and brainpower your company needs to fully execute your marketing strategy could have a big influence whether or not you choose an in-house marketing team or a marketing agency. An agency will give you access to a wide range of skill sets and additional marketing industry knowledge. Even if you don’t need, say, Google AdWords help right now, you’ll have an experienced professional (depending on your agency’s services) at your fingertips should you choose to pursue that later. This goes for other services like PR, video editing, content creation and SEO services—agencies have a wide variety of skill sets ready to help grow your business.

While you could train an in-house marketing employee on Google AdWords or any other kind of marketing service you might need down the road, it can take a while for them to get up to speed at the level an agency professional will already have. Your in-house employee’s bandwidth might already be too full to take on an extra service like AdWords as well, or to take it on enough to develop a full-fledged concerted effort on it. Of course, you could hire another employee to fill these gaps in your marketing team and if you have ample time for recruitment, this could be a long-term investment in your company. Weighing the cost of an additional employee’s salary against an agency’s fees could help you decide between the two.

One important thing to keep in mind with building an in-house marketing team is to ensure your team members have enough time and aren’t over burdened with all aspects of marketing to do their jobs well. We’ve seen marketing teams of two where one person is taking on the blogging, SEO, social media, PPC, and some design work for their company. With wearing so many hats, it was hard for that employee to dedicate enough time to one item to make it the best it could be. While it’s tempting to save costs and keep your marketing in-house, it can lead to employee burnout and a quantity, not quality, approach due to lack of time.

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Industry and Company Knowledge

In-house employees will obviously be more in-tune with what’s happening in their industry, company, and will have more of a stake in the success of the business overall. If you work with in a very technical industry, let’s say finance and investing, it could be difficult to bring an outside marketing agency up to speed on all the intricacies, legal wording, and education needed to properly and accurately form a marketing plan. As a boutique content marketing agency, we’re particularly sensitive to this challenge with our specialized clients. In this case, having an in-house team who lives and breathes that industry daily and who are already intimately familiar with the ins and outs could save a lot of time. At the very least, that team can collaborate closely with an agency when necessary.

Agencies work with a variety of clients, so they’re naturally adept at writing, communicating, and formulating marketing plans for a number of different industries. This “outside” perspective could be very beneficial in getting a fresh take on things, a new opinion, and a plethora of knowledge of what’s working for companies in other industries, but that might be applicable to your company. They can attack your company’s problems with a solution you might not have thought of. So while there might be a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning, a marketing agency can largely help formulate new and exciting ideas.

Tools and Platforms

Top tier marketing agencies come equipped with all the latest and greatest tools and platforms needed to really make a marketing machine work. These can be marketing-goal specific, like Ahrefs for improving SEO, or more encompassing platforms, like the infamous HubSpot for a wide variety of marketing needs (we’re a Hubspot partner, and swear by their SaaS). Your marketing goals will largely dictate what tools and platforms will be most beneficial to use, which can help you determine what marketing agency would be a good fit based off of what they offer.

Although you can purchase these tools for an in-house marketing team, hiring a marketing agency takes a lot of the guess work out about which tools will be best for x marketing plan. An agency will also already know how to get the most out of these tools, so there’s no time wasted in getting familiar with them. Even though the cost of these subscriptions are rolled into a marketing agency’s overall price, it could save you time and money in the long run not having to weed out which tool to use and learning how to use it.

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In-House Marketing vs. Marketing Agency Debate

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the in-house vs. marketing agency debate. What works best varies from company to company—finding out what works best for yours will pay off tenfold in ensuring your marketing strategy is developed and executed properly. If you find yourself in the middle of the road between these two options, your sweet spot might be doing a combination of both. Ultimately, it’s up to the company to determine what will work best for their specific set of circumstances. If you’re having difficulty deciding which route is best, we’d be happy to discuss your marketing goals and see if a marketing agency would best help you reach them!

Why Yelp Ads are Effective for Local Business Marketing

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Yelp is #1 for Reviews of Local Businesses

While Google might be the leader when it comes to internet-wide organic search, and is slowly gaining ground in the review department, Yelp remains a clear leader when it comes to consumer-trusted local business reviews.

Yelp has remained the local business review leader for a few key reasons:

  • Yelp emerged early on as the industry leader in local business reviews.
  • Yelp has cultivated its review component into a reliable resource users trust more than any other.
  • Yelp users are qualified and ready to buy.
  • Yelp can be used for virtually any type of local business.

If you are a local business and are unaware of or are ignoring Yelp, you need to reconsider. Whatever your feelings towards the platform, local consumers are using Yelp, trusting Yelp, and converting into customers via Yelp.

Nearly 100 million visitors per month use the platform. Investing in a Yelp Ads budget within their platform are one of the most potent ways you can market locally. But why should you care about 3rd party review sites like Yelp – or even Google?

3rd-Party Platforms like Yelp are Dominating

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Gone are the days of stopping into a physical store front to glean information about a company. Today, third-party platforms like Google and Yelp are where 3 out of 4 consumers will interact with your local business before potentially converting into a customer. Incredibly, less than 1 out of 4 consumers will utilize a company’s website for initial interaction and research. This overwhelming domination of SERPs and consumer preference can’t be ignored.

We have entered an era of smart search where it’s paramount to ensure business listings are complete and consistent across every search platform. If you aren’t on top of your business listing managementyou could be missing out on as much as 75% of your potential customers! It is more important than ever to have complete information and be actively managing these 3rd-party listings to attract the most potential customers – and of course one of the most important platforms to be prominent on is Yelp.

Ensuring your Yelp presence is at least complete and accurate is a given must – and we can help ensure your online business listings are managed. But if you really want to ramp up your business’ exposure on the Yelp platform and bring in more leads, you need to run Yelp ads. We’ll dive into the how and why below.

Yelp Users Are Qualified & Ready to Buy

It’s important to keep in mind that consumers trust Yelp more than other review sites – even the likes of Google or Facebook. And people don’t come to Yelp just to browse — they’re ready to purchase. 97% of people make a purchase after visiting Yelp, with 90% purchasing with in a week and 51% within a day.This trust consumers have in Yelp and their readiness to make a purchase is a great asset for businesses to capitalize on. Even claiming your business and building out a free profile can go a long ways in getting your company in front of the eyes of innumerable consumers.

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Consumers are on Yelp, so you need to ensure your profile is owned, completed, and up-to-date as a bare minimum. If you’re not sure where you should get started on your free page, don’t worry. We’re developing another guide outlining the best ways to optimize your Yelp profile. We also offer complete local business listing management services at-cost, which includes the basic Yelp profile among dozens of other sites.

How Yelp Ads Are Effective

Yelp has managed to create the most successful customer review platform available for local B2C businesses. Consumers trust Yelp and come to the platform ready to purchase. If you want to dramatically increase your Yelp page activity and qualified customer leads, forking over some ad spend is the only guaranteed way to do so.

So we’ve established Yelp users are well-qualified buyers looking to pull the trigger quickly – this alone should be reason to use the ecosystem. But how do they work, and what more do you get in addition to the free offering from the platform?

Prioritized Exposure Over Organic Results

Optimizing your business profile results in more people visiting your page, but paid ads will inevitably appear above your listing in search results. Even if you’re the top organic result within Yelp’s search engine, you won’t appear on top of the paid ads. Google operates in the same manner. This is where Yelp advertising – like Google Ads – comes in to give businesses an additional competitive edge and opportunity for exposure within their platform.

When you pay for Yelp ads, your business will show up at the top of any search page, above and before any organic search results, giving your company more views and impressions right off the bat. But you don’t pay for the impressions, you only pay when a Yelp user actually clicks through to your page. This is similar to how Google Ads work: search for a solar company, for example, and you’ll see the first three or four results are ads, and then the relevance-based organic listings begin.

Yelp allows more room for paid ads than Google, so it takes longer to get to the start of organic search results — where your company would show without paying for ads. By upgrading your account to this paid option, you’ll show up higher on the results, increasing your impressions and chances for someone to convert on your profile.

Your Ads Show on Unpaid Competitors’ Profiles

On standard Yelp profile pages, competitor ads have dedicated areas that they’re shown, so customers have a higher chance of “bouncing” by clicking on the competitor ad that appears. Just the way it is: Yelp funnels customers to paying businesses. This is a bit confusing, but is effective, because once you’ve effectively “poached” that visitor and they’ve clicked on your paid result, they will likely stay on your page, because…

Competitors’ Ads Don’t Show on Your Profile

Yelp advertising with an Enhanced Profile (included at no additional charge for modest advertising budgets) has an additional benefit on the page itself: no competitor ads show up. When you pay for advertising or an Enhanced Profile, your prospective customer will most likely stay on your profile page since you’re not immediately competing with other companies.

4) Yelp Tracks Detailed Metrics For You

Like with anything in marketing, tracking and analyzing your results show you what’s working and what’s not. Yelp also has its own data aggregation section that shows you how many impressions you were getting before and after you started advertising with them.

By tracking the clicks that convert to leads throughout your campaign, you can make an informed decision whether this form of advertising is generating a positive return on advertising spend (ROAS). We’re also happy to help manage your Yelp Ads, at no cost to you!

Your Audience on Yelp

One of the key elements to any great content marketing strategy is knowing who your audience is and where they spend their time online. This gives you the knowledge to direct your time and effort in the right channels, getting the most for your time invested. The good news with Yelp is that any local business in any industry can expect some of their potential customers to be on this platform searching and comparing their options – and as mentioned before, Yelp consumers are qualified and looking to buy.

Consumers on the Yelp platform search for food, services, and products, and are generally looking for companies they aren’t as familiar with as, say, McDonald’s (although even popular chains undergo Yelp scrutiny). Searcher intent for SMBs reveals that Yelp is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. While certain sectors will be more competitive to play in, such as the fast food and restaurant industries, most industries realize excellent returns on their Yelp advertising spend.

Can Yelp Ads be Wrong for My Business? (Yes!)

Most local businesses – including ones without a physical storefront – can dramatically increase qualified leads with a Yelp advertising budget. So if you’re a local business, odds are it is well worth advertising on Yelp. In rare instances, however, we may determine that a Yelp advertising campaign might not be appropriate for your company.

No Local Offerings

If you don’t have any local offerings, you may not be a good fit for Yelp ads, as it’s a local-driven platform.

B2B Only

B2B businesses often have a smaller market share as well, and might have limited budget opportunities, depending on the local market.

Strong Negative Presence on Yelp Platform

If you have a strong negative presence on Yelp, driving traffic to your page is likely not going to produce a good ROI. Yelp consumers are looking to make informed decisions, and they will read reviews. This also likely indicates an issue with your business that merits analysis.

yelp ads not worth it bad reviews

The above McDonald’s has a scalding 1-star average out of a sizeable 34 reviews. Were this our client, we’d recommend they not waste their time with Yelp Ads until this has been corrected, as well as taking a detailed look as to why this is occurring, including responding to reviews consistently and quickly.

Not Ready? Start with Cheaper Page Upgrades!

Not quite ready for Yelp ads? Don’t fear! There are a few upgrades you can take advantage of to optimize your profile even more. These include an editable slideshow, CTA buttons, and a highlight bar. These lower budget customization options can help your listing stand out once a customer reaches your page, but won’t necessarily bring with it the increase in traffic that paid ads will.

Yelp Ads: A Reliable Way to Grow Your Local Business

Yelp advertising has many different options for businesses of all sizes and industries. We’ve found in our experience as a Yelp Certified Partner that there are many ways to make their ad platform work for SMBs and B2Cs. Whether you need to manage a smaller budget or have very specific goals you want to achieve, we can help find a strategy that works for your business.

If you’re looking to grow your business and would like a free consultation regarding Yelp Advertising, contact Jack & Bean today! Whether it’s leveraging Yelp advertising or growing your content marketing plans, we’ll objectively audit your business’ niche and determine which strategy is most effective for you.