Even if you’ve never signed up to use Yelp, the likelihood that you’ve visited the website and read several of its reviews on everything from eateries to car washes to law firms — and every other type of business, big or small, in between — is pretty high.

Whether your small business is already established and you want to be more present online, or you’re beginning to venture into what you consider unchartered territory, learning the language of Yelp and gaining a firm grasp on how the website works are two of the most useful things you can do right off the bat.

Why the urgency in our voice? Because there’s a decent chance that your business is already part of the Yelp universe. Maintaining control over your own reputation is key, so if people are already reviewing your business somewhere, without you even knowing about it, you’ll absolutely want to get a handle on the situation.

Before we begin, just how big of a deal is Yelp?

Without mincing words, Yelp debuted in 2005 and, without wasting any time, skyrocketed its way to becoming the single-most influential website for reviews worldwide, serving customers in 32 countries (and counting). In just over 14 years, close to 155 million reviews have been posted by a per-month average of 74 million unique visitors on desktop, 30 million on the mobile app, and 70 million on mobile browsers (as of Q1 2018).

And while these numbers give Yelp major credibility as a global platform, the emphasis that both the website and its users place on local businesses cannot be understated. We’re not just talking about major chains, either “” the teeniest and tiniest of businesses with physical stores in the deepest, darkest corners of the city get to have their moment in the sun.

You can find reviews for just about anything in most places within countries featured on Yelp. For example, in Canada, a country with just over a dozen major cities, you can find reviews emanating from 40 locations starting in Victoria, British Columbia, and ending all the way east in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

With so many visitors and such a large representation of small businesses nationwide, it’s important to remember, then, that your business could already be part of the Yelp community. Here’s where we get into how to find your business and manage the listing properly…

How can I use Yelp to its maximum potential for my business?

First things first: claim your business.

After filling in the form at the link above, your claim will be reviewed by Yelp’s Customer Support team to certify your ownership and you’ll receive a response in short order. Becoming certified allows you to have control of your listing beyond operating the bare-bones aspects of your business’s profile (basic info, links, photos/videos, etc.).

As a certified owner, your two biggest advantages are 1) being able to mine visitor activity for data that can help you get to know your target audience better (e.g. clicks to your business’s page, how many leads your page has generated, etc.); and 2) being able to directly respond to reviews, publicly or privately, positive or negative.

From a customer service perspective, direct engagement through Yelp has proven to do wonders for businesses. If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly what your customers think of you, there’s no better place to find it, word for word, straight from the mouths (or fingers, more accurately) of patrons.

Not all reviews are rainbows and sunshine, however; if your business is having a particularly bad day, you might hear about it on Yelp. It’s important, then, to make sure you follow the proper etiquette to ensure your response doesn’t make a potentially bad situation even worse.

Read each review carefully, empathize with all situations as much as possible, specifically address any issues mentioned, and get your reply out as quickly as possible. It goes without saying that the longer you wait to reply, the poorer it will reflect on your business.

How important is it that my business is on Yelp?

It is absolutely necessary. To ensure that you’re fully convinced, here are a few important notes and stats to consider from a 2016 Nielsen survey:

  • Online review sites help convert more searchers into customers than both search engines (even the seemingly untouchable Google!) or social networks (even the seemingly untouchable Facebook!).
  • As you might imagine, Yelp also unanimously ranked atop the list of said online review sites as “most trusted, most influential and most useful.”
  • 25% of people who read Yelp reviews end up making a purchase within a few hours, while 42% do so within a day and 79% do so within a week.
  • In the two years between 2014 and 2016, the number of customers who reported buying something within a few hours of consulting Yelp increased by a whopping 212%.

Yelp has built up a great deal of trust among the general public, which means that your business and what it has to offer need to be ready at a moment’s notice for when customers are looking to be swayed. Reviews have become a major part of the customer journey (the path that leads potential buyers from consideration to purchase), so making your business shine on Yelp will help its reputation not just over time, but in those “micro-moments” (times when customers want to satisfy an immediate need) that separate the best from the rest.

Of course, Yelp is just a part of the overall picture when it comes to putting your business out there. Paid search advertising (promotion and visibility through paid advertising) and social media should be seen as secondary methods — but review sites clearly play a vital role as part of an overall marketing strategy.

How can I get reviews for my small business on Yelp?

This is a bit of a tricky one. Yelp specifically prohibits businesses from soliciting customers for reviews and will even penalize your business for doing so. This means you shouldn’t be sending out emails with a link to your Yelp page and a request for a review.

However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting reviews on Yelp:

  • Deliver amazing customer service to each and every person your business serves!
  • Include a badge to your listing on Yelp on your website.
  • Share positive reviews you’ve received on Yelp to your social media sites.
  • Include Yelp reviews on your website.
  • Include a badge or link to your Yelp page in your email signature.
  • Remind customers to visit your Yelp page to check out your reviews.

Yelp’s goal is to curate unbiased reviews of local businesses to help people make their decisions. By using the above tips you can gently remind or nudge your customers to leave you a review.

LOCALiQ wants to help you Yelp!

Pairing your business’s Yelp presence with LOCALiQ can make your local marketing efforts that much easier to master. After getting the basics of Yelp down pat, we can help you navigate the more advanced ins and outs of the platform to really put your local strategy on another level.

What’s more: we work with Yelp to give you a clear advantage and know-how directly from the source. Having access to LOCALiQ means having access to optimized Yelp listings management, more in-depth access to Yelp’s data analytics, and better overall support.

We look forward to making your Yelp experience a memorable one!