Should My Business Advertise on Yelp?

November 12, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog by Jeffrey Magner

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Should I be Advertising on Yelp?

Many local business owners wonder if Yelp advertising would help get more customers in the door. Certainly Yelp thinks so, and the Yelp sales reps will sell advertising to ANY business – whether it’s a good idea for them or not.

The problem is that for 95% of businesses out there it’s just a waste of money. I tell small business owners all the time to never ever ever spend a dime on Yelp.

Even if Yelp advertising might be beneficial for your business, chances are very good that there are several better ways to spend your limited marketing budget.

The truth about Yelp Advertising

I personally love Yelp as a Yelper for my own personal use and also as a marketer. It’s a powerful App and I appreciate the whole Yelp ecosystem. And Yelp ranks on page 1 for the majority of local searches conducted in the US. It’s the #1 ranking business directory. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good place to spend money:

#1 There are only a handful of business types that people regularly rely on Yelp for and it’s likely you are not one of them. The Yelp App home screen gives you a hint:

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These categories are on the home screen for a reason. Are people in a hurry to search for carpet cleaning on Yelp? Acupuncture? Personal Injury attorneys? Despite what the Yelp sales reps tell you, Yelpers care about getting trustworthy real-world customer feedback about purchases they are considering soon – as in ice cream, a bagel, coffee and gas stations.

When you click on …More Categories here’s what they offer:

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#2 Most of America has little consumer adoption of Yelp. In the San Francisco Bay Area I personally know many people who don’t conduct searches on Google. They use Yelp. And it works for them. The entire West Coast has great Yelp adoption and probably many large urban centers have lots of Yelpers. And it’s growing. But let me ask you – Do you use Yelp on your phone? Most of your customers don’t use Yelp or trust Yelp.

Yelp Advertising is expensive.

Your business will be positioned well inside Yelp only and your business profile will not have any competitor ads on it. That’s what you get. Is that worth $500 – $800 a month for a 12-month contract? Wow. That’s a lot of money. What else can you get for $6,000 – $10,000 that will help drive traffic to your business? A lot!

If you are a sushi restaurant in Palo Alto, Yelp Advertising is for you. If you are a landscaping company in Lansing, Michigan, even though you have a few reviews on Yelp and Yelp ranks on page 1 for all your top  search phrases, you DO NOT need to advertise on Yelp!

The first step is to Optimize your Yelp listing so that it ranks well on Yelp and on Google for searches of your brand. The next step is to make sure that your Yelp review score is high – get more reviews on Yelp. This costs nothing but your time. There’s no 12-month contract.

The last step is to find trustworthy marketing experts that will help steer you towards affordable, effective marketing next steps that will increase revenue for your business.

Yelp Enhanced Listings May be a Good Option

Recently I worked with a franchise of 12 restaurants that had Enhanced Listings on Yelp. Enhanced listings offer the business the ability to add more details about their business, more photos and even a video. Working with a dedicated Yelp rep was amazing. The reps are awesome. Enhanced listings for individual locations is $75/mo with a 12-month contract. Businesses with 10+ locations this drops down to $30/mo and becomes very affordable.

Enhanced listings with full optimization and 75+ photos rank very well on Yelp for multiple categories. But again, talk to a trusted marketing professional before investing in Enhanced listings on Yelp.

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