Search for the name of any local business on the major search engines, and chances are you’ll see a Yelp listing show up close to, if not on, the first page of search results. Why? A few of reasons.

First of all, online recommendation and review sites continue to build strong signals to consumers that influence their buying decisions. That means, more consumers are searching for and clicking on these profile pages for local businesses and therefore helping them rank higher in search engines. Secondly, both Bing and Yahoo! now have exclusive partnerships with Yelp, meaning that Yelp reviews are now featured more prominently within local search results, showing up with the listing card for the local business. For consumers, the number and quality of your reviews could affect if they contact your business or your competitor. Thirdly, Yelp reviews and ratings for local businesses are highly visible in Apple Maps, and with a growing number of users this can be critical for your local business.

And since Yahoo! and Bing make up a growing percent of search queries today, with a combined total of 28.7% of search share, it’s important to make sure your business shows up – and shines – when people search for local businesses like yours online.

The simple point is, if you haven’t claimed your listing on Yelp, it’s important to do so. In fact, if you don’t, a Yelp user could attempt to update your business information for you, which could result in inaccurate information. So, verifying your own business page is the best way to ensure that these results are accurate, complete, and consistent with all your other business profile pages online. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind to get the most out of claiming your Yelp business page.

Add or Update Your Business Information

Much like other local listings or profiles on social media sites, Yelp provides local businesses with many options for including business information. The most basic information you should make sure is accurate and consistent with your additional profiles is your business name, physical address, type of business, website URL, phone number, and hours of operation. Not only are these details critical in order for consumers to contact you, but they are also are displayed on both the “near your location” and map search results of both Bing and Yahoo!

Yelp also displays information that other directories may not offer but that matters to consumers who are researching your business. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can add a link to your menu, payment options, parking information, price level, and reservation requirements, which can all be helpful to someone looking for a place for a business lunch or a romantic anniversary dinner.

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No matter what type of local business you own, it’s important to think about your Yelp page as if you were a consumer searching for a business like yours. Think about what you would want to know about a business or what you wish you would have known about a business before choosing them, and make sure your profile includes these details for your prospects.

Post Realistic Images

Part of what grabs a consumer’s attention on any review or social site is the images that represent the business. And authenticity matters. Whether working with a professional or taking Instagram-style shots, focus on capturing what makes your business unique and great, instead of making sure every image is staged or edited to perfection. For a restaurant, that means showing off your best-selling dishes and a dining room filled with happy customers. For a massage studio, that means showing pictures of friendly staff and rooms that evoke a sense of relaxation. For a hotel, featuring the different room layouts and even local attractions can help travelers get a sense of what they can expect when they arrive.

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Customers who visit your location can also post images along with their reviews to your Yelp business page. So, make sure that the standards you set in your own images are also present in your day-to-day business operations so that your images don’t tell a different story than what your customers experience. Let your authentic experience shine.

Promote Positive Reviews

There are many ways you can feature the great things consumers have said about your business that can encourage new customers to contact you. For example, you could use an online tools to create a make quote image with a brief quote from a happy customer review – and you can then post these images on your social media sites, emails, and even on your website in order to attract more visitors to your Yelp pages, and even indirectly influence your fans and followers to leave you more reviews.

You should also take time to reply to reviews customers have left you – both positive and negative – to show consumers who find your Yelp page that you acknowledge concerns and will work to resolve them in addition to the fact that you appreciate the nice things customers have to say about you online. How you respond to reviews will also speak volumes about the kind of business you are to potential customers.

Remember This:

Getting great reviews starts with delivering great products and services and providing consistently great customer service. Make sure that employees know from the beginning what makes your business unique, along with your standards, expectations, and values, so that they become part of every customer experience. Plus, recognizing your team members whenever you get a new positive review on your Yelp listing can help them see first-hand the impact of great service. Similarly, addressing negative experiences with your staff can help them understand what to adjust so that the issue doesn’t happen again.

Is your local business using Yelp to help boost your visibility in search results and help convince consumers to choose your business? What other ways do ensure that your business profile shines on Yelp? Let us know with a comment!

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