Are You Living in Fear of Yelp?

Is your small business on Yelp yet? The online rating and review site has become a powerful influencer of consumer purchases—but too many small businesses aren’t listed on Yelp because their owners are scared of getting a negative review.

If your small business is one that relies on local customers, such as a bar, restaurant, retail store or personal service provider, I’m afraid you really can’t afford to ignore Yelp any longer. But don’t take it from me—consider some of the data MarketingProfs recently highlighted about Yelp’s power to help (yes, help!) small businesses.

Small businesses have long relied on the power of word-of-mouth to attract new customers. Think of Yelp as today’s word-of-mouth, and it’s a lot less scary. Indeed, nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations from someone they know. What’s more, 90 percent of Yelp users say that positive reviews affect their purchasing decisions, and 93 percent of people who do research on review sites say they end up buying from the businesses they’re researching.

Just about every type of business can benefit from being on Yelp, but restaurants, beauty and spa services, food, nightlife, home services and professional service providers stand to gain the most—more than half of consumers regularly search these types of businesses on Yelp.

Sadly, though, small businesses aren’t taking advantage of Yelp’s power. Some 87 percent of small businesses admit they don’t actively use review sites such as Yelp, and among those businesses that do have a Yelp page, 22 percent have never even looked at their page!

So what do you need to do? First, take some time to get familiar with Yelp. Try using it to look up local businesses and see how it works. You’ll probably notice that businesses you like have good reviews, which can make you feel more comfortable using Yelp.

Next, visit Yelp to “unlock” your free account and set up a business page. Fill out your Yelp profile as completely as you can, including links to your business website, photos of your location/menu items/products, hours you’re open, directions, phone number and more. The more info you provide, the higher you’ll rank in Yelp’s internal search results.

Once you’re on Yelp, be sure to interact. While Yelp discourages actively soliciting reviews from customers, it’s OK to say “Check us out on Yelp!” or something similar. When customers know you’re on Yelp, they’ll be moved to review you if they’ve had a good experience (or a terrible one).

So what if your worst fear comes true and you get a negative review? Yelp offers lots of guidance for how to handle this situation, but the gist is to remain calm and not get defensive. If possible, try to take the discussion offline so you can resolve the issue without the world watching. (Be sure, however, to post an update when the problem is handled so your customers know you now have a satisfied customer.)

The best way to prevent and defuse negative reviews is to be active on your Yelp page. Check in daily and respond to both positive and negative reviews. By being active on Yelp, you’ll be seen as a caring business owner. You’ll also gain credibility among potential customers and boost your rank within Yelp.

Spending a little time each day is a small price to pay for something that can make such a big difference in attracting customers, don’t you agree?

Need more help with Yelp (or anything else to grow your business)? Visit to get matched with a SCORE mentor who can put you on track to success.

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia"></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


Thanks Don. The reality is

Thanks Don. The reality is Yelp and other ratings services are a part of a business owner's life, and we have to adjust and take advantage of the situation.

Yelp is good because you can

Yelp is good because you can make a formal reply. The reviewers take their task pretty seriously and try to be fair. By contrast, FYI, a problem for some businesses right now is the Facebook review system. You can't reply to a bad review, and you can't even know if someone is giving you a poor review because they can set their privacy settings to keep it with their friends only. It's just a very immature system right now, and some people have had to opt out of the review system entirely (which means giving up your business location address!) just to defeat a bad review they can't address. Good advice in this article, as always!

Yelp is the best!!

Yelp is the best!!

You are right on target, I

You are right on target, I have had an increase in revenue thanks to Yelp. The myth about bad reviews being removed if you advertise is just an urban myth, I advertise and my bad reviews have not been removed. But working with my Ad rep, I have taken control of my Yelp page, Don.

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