Yelp logoBusinesses often rely on word-of-mouth advertising to generate new leads. Social media allows consumers to gain a much wider reach with their reviews. Yelp is one of the leading platforms for these consumer reviews. With the right knowledge and tools, a small business owner can use Yelp to increase revenue and develop a relationship with his customers.


Yelp, founded in 2004, presently yields over 135,000 unique monthly visitors, and houses over 71,000 reviews. Many people rely on Yelp before making decisions about where to spend their money so, as a small business owner, you would be wise to do three things:

  • Claim your business on Yelp
  • Ensure that your Yelp profile is full of good information and pictures
  • Build relationships with your customers


If you continue to monitor the number of reviews your business has received, you may notice that reviews can disappear and reappear. This is the result of Yelp’s internal algorithm that is designed to display the most helpful and reliable reviews. Some business owners engage in shady practices by buying reviews from people who’ve never patronized their business or by encouraging their friends and family members to come to Yelp and leave positive reviews to bolster their rating. The algorithm is aimed at eliminating these “vanity” reviews.

If a person creates a Yelp account, leaves one review and then never uses Yelp again, that review carries less weight than a review from a Yelp power user who has left numerous reviews about numerous businesses. The reviews deemed “less helpful” by Yelp are still there. To see them, you need to scroll to the bottom of your list of reviews and you will see a link that says, “X other reviews that are not currently recommended:”

Yelp for local business

Yelp’s algorithm has received some backlash because it can possibly filter out perfectly good and legitimate positive reviews. However, Yelp has always stood by its business practices and has said that, despite the drawbacks, their algorithm is designed to provide the most helpful and useful reviews for businesses listed on their site. The bottom line is that Yelp can provide benefits for local business.


Perhaps the most important reason to claim your business on Yelp is to gain the opportunity to develop a relationship with your customers. Once you claim your business, you’ll instantly gain the ability to respond to reviews via public or private messages.

Responding to reviews allows your customers the opportunity to see that you care and value their business. A simple “thank you for your business” reply to a positive Yelp review provides confirmation to the consumer that you value their business and it will often place your business at the top of their “preferred” list of providers for that particular product or service.

If you receive a negative review from a customer, your best bet is to take a step back and not respond immediately. Take time to review the customer’s concerns and your own records about their experience with your business. Thank the customer for his feedback and detail what you plan to do to resolve the situation, if an action is needed on your part. This person may have been having a bad day or your business may have had an off day. Their negative review provides an opportunity for you to build a relationship and ensure repeat customers.

Once you claim your business on Yelp, you’ll also gain access to a valuable measurement tool that will track visitor engagement and potential customer leads. Additional services are available for a fee. Using Yelp for local business is key to your success. If you need help navigating Yelp or other social media sites, we offer an entire section dedicated to social media in our latest eBook titled “Digital Marketing 101: The Simple Guide for the Local Business Owner.”

This blog post originally appeared on WSI Connect’s blog.