I was listening to this podcast about Yelp when the guest, attorney Jared Beck, made a very interesting comment. He said that part of the reason why business owners are typically so angry with Yelp is that they feel that they don’t have any control over the site or what goes on there, and they feel they don’t have any control of how the site might impact their business.
I can see how this might seem to be true. Many companies who have been trashed on Yelp and other third-party review sites have certainly lost business, even been put out of business, by one-star reviews. Some of those reviews were not posted by customers, but by competitors.
However, I would encourage business owners to look at the issue of control in another way. No, you can’t control Yelp. However, you can control the extent to which Yelp and other third-party sites impact your business.
Create a Virtual Firewall
A Yelp review is a search result, just like any other result. That means that you can out-write your detractors just like you can out-write your competition, pushing these reviews down in the SERPs.
However, it’s not enough to work on your blog. Content marketing is good. It builds your brand. But you need to take a broader view of your web presence.
You need to build out profiles, issue press releases, sponsor good causes and build bridges with bloggers. You need to do whatever you can to build your positive presence across multiple sites. It’s not just about sending link juice to your primary website. It’s about giving Google more positive and interesting search results to display then some Yelp review.
Warehouse Positive Reviews on Your Website
I touched on this in a previous blog post, but I’ll mention it again here. When you get a good review from a customer it is wise to warehouse that review on your own website. Don’t send them to Yelp or to another review site, where they are in danger of being eaten by review filters.
And don’t “feed the beast.” Every review that Yelp receives, whether positive or negative, pushes them up in the SERPs for your brand keyword, which is ultimately counterproductive.
Use Pictures to Your Advantage
A picture can be worth 1,000 reviews, especially if you’re in a very visual business. However, any business can benefit from photos thanks to Google+ Local. And photos are really easy content to create.
A photograph of your warm, welcoming location, your signature dish, or the gorgeous living room you just designed for a client can help you prove that you do good work, which means customers can make their own decisions without relying on the input of the peanut gallery.
You are in control!
You may not be able to control Yelp. But you can control your online reputation. And that’s great news for any business.