We talk with dozens of business owners every day, and if there’s one thing we hear a lot it’s that Yelp is not a fan favorite. Especially among our restaurant and retail customers, there’s a prevailing belief that Yelp is an unfortunate combination of cranky customers, fake reviews, and an infuriating algorithm that seems to “not recommend” positive reviews and send negative ones straight to the top. If that sentence got your blood boiling, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider Yelp. Here are the top eight reasons why playing the Yelp game is essential to business success.



1. Know When a New Review Comes In



When you claim your Yelp profile, you’ll be notified via email when new reviews come in immediately. This is great news for your ability to monitor your online reputation. You can thank happy customers quickly and (perhaps more importantly) reply to negative comments with your perspective before they have a chance to fester. The faster you respond, the better your comments will be received.



PS – If you’re not sold on the whole “replying to reviews” thing, we’ll cover that in a later post.



2. See How Customer Are Using Your Profile



While not overly robust, Yelp does offer some barebones analytics tools that can help you gauge how your profile is performing. The Activity Feed is one of the more powerful ones as it shows you actual actions taken by actual users. For instance, you might see an entry that states “a Yelp user clicked on your website” with the time and date. If you’re really lucky, Yelp will report key demographic information about the user like age, location, and gender.



3. Make Sure Your Profile is Accurate



Even if you haven’t been paying attention to your Yelp profile up until this point, chances are excellent that a page has already been created for you. Reviewers looking for a business can create a page if none already exists, and they may make mistakes or just not post things that are in line with your brand. Claiming your Yelp profile allows you to take ownership of and correct any errors with your business’s names, address, hours, description, and industry. This is important for overall brand consistency.



4. Upload Your Own Content



Beyond just making sure that your profile information is accurate, claiming the page allows you to upload content of your own, especially photos. Reviewers can, of course, post their own photos, but these are often not of the highest quality. This is your chance to take some beautiful images and post them as the official brand photos – you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to create a great first impression.



5. Respond to Reviews



Although it takes time and effort, responding to both positive and negative Yelp reviews is an important part of managing your brand online. Even if all your reviews are stellar, replying with sincere gratitude shows that you are engaged with and listening to your customers – and that’s never a bad thing. If a negative review does pop up, you’ll see it immediately and be able to tell your side of the story or offer your apologies if it’s a legitimate grievance. We’ll cover responding to negative reviews more thoroughly in another post, but for now just remember to treat all customers with respect and civility, even if you feel their comments are fake or way off base.



6. Respond to Reviews – in Private



Not all your comments on Yelp need to be visible to the whole world. If you need more information about a customer’s complaint or simply want to offer restitution for a wrong and don’t want others to know what you’re giving away, private replies are the way to go. This type of reply actually opens up a two-way conversation where you and your reviewer can chat back and forth about the issue. In some cases, you’ll want to respond privately to a complaint to try to make it right before going public – maybe you can get the reviewer to modify their comments if you’re able to address their concerns.



7. Make Money When It Matters Most



If a potential customer is cruising through Yelp and reading reviews, they are likely a fairly serious buyer who is looking to make an informed choice. Having a Yelp profile that’s up to date with the latest business information and photos can and will impress consumers and possibly convince them on the spot that you’re the right choice to meet their needs.



8. Improve Your SEO Ranking



You might not like Yelp very much, but search engines love it! Adding your business’s website to Yelp is a very big plus in the eyes of Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and you’ll start to notice the results as your website slowly climbs the search engine rankings. Plus, having a way for customers to get to your website directly from your Yelp profile makes it easier for them to find out even more about you, leading to a better experience with your business overall.



Grin and Bear It



Yelp may never be your favorite website, but like it or not people love to hear what other consumers think before they make a purchase. Reviews are going to be written about your business whether you like it or not, so wouldn’t you rather have a say in how your company is talked about online? There are plenty of fun and easy ways you can encourage customers to leave positive reviews for you (we personally love contests and raffles), and you’ll get way more out of it than you put in. Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for a credit card processor with a PERFECT Yelp score, check out our page. Customers love us, and we want to show you why. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website to learn more!



PS – We’ve written a few blogs on why LinkedIn matters for your business, too. Check them out here and here.



PPS – Starting a new business? Here’s what you need to know.