Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yelp Matters (A Lot More Than You Think) for Your Small (Local) Business | Share This List

Yelp MattersYelp (http://www.yelp.com/), of course, is one of the largest local "yellow page" systems on the Web. Consumers use Yelp to find local businesses - restaurants and bars, plumbers and hair stylists, even marriage counselors and attorneys. Powered by the largest (and most enthusiastic) local review community on the Web, if your business is local, then you should be using Yelp for your Internet marketing!
 Here's a TODO list to hand off to whoever is in charge of local marketing. Email this TODO list to your marketing team member(s) and have them check off the items on the list as indicated by: 



TODO:  Done: ❐ Not Done: ❐ Other: ❐ _______________



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Copy / paste this short link into an email: http://bit.ly/stl-yelp
 

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YELP MATTERS: A TODO LIST


 

#1 - Determine if Yelp Matters to Your Business


Do you have a local business? In the olden days, did people search for you via the Yellow Pages? Are you a restaurant, bar, marriage therapist, local attorney, plumber... essentially anyone for whom it would make sense to be listed in the "Yellow Pages?" If so, Yelp matters to you.

(Even if you are not a local business, Yelp has a benefit to your SEO. So everyone who can get listed on Yelp, should try to be listed.)

Imagine you are a customer, searching for the product or service that your company offers. How would you search? What keywords would you enter? Would you use Google, Bing, or even Yelp directly?

Try a few Google searches, try a few Bing searches, and ask a few customers if they use Yelp, with the goal of identifying your target keywords.

Yelp is more than Yelp. What do I mean? Yelp drives not only Yelp but has a huge impact on Bing and on Google.  First, many consumers use Yelp directly. So if your business is listed on Yelp, you have a chance to show up. Second, Yelp drives many of the reviews on Bing. Try a Bing search (http://www.bing.com/) for a query such as "plumbers in Dallas" (http://bit.ly/plumbers-in-dallas) and you'll see Yelp review counts to the right of the listings returned. Finally, Yelp often shows very high on Google searches. Search for "watch repair" on Google and you'll often see Yelp listings high on the Google page.

Yelp matters -

  • On Google: many times, Yelp listings enjoy top placement on Google searches.
  • On Bing: Yelp drives reviews on Bing for many local offerings.
  • On Yelp: many consumers head directly to Yelp.

Therefore, if you are a restaurant or bar, the use of Yelp is pretty obvious: you gotta be on Yelp, especially if you are in any "blue" city such as New York, San Francisco or Seattle. Even if you are in Dallas or Phoenix, many consumers use Yelp. But even if you are in a smaller city and your business is something like an attorney, a marriage therapist, or even a plumber, many consumers go to Yelp, or go to Google (and then to Yelp), or go to Bing (and then to Yelp).


  • If you're local in any way, shape, or form, you gotta Yelp.  It's that simple. 

Your first TODO, therefore, is to ask yourself and your team these questions - 


  • Do local searches matter to our business? Are customers searching Google, Bing, or Yelp for businesses like ours via keyword queries such as "plumber," "marriage therapist," or "best Italian restaurant?"
TODO:  
Does local matter for our business? Does Yelp matter?  

YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

#2 - Claim Your Yelp Listing


Now that you've decided Yelp matters for you and your business, you gotta find and claim your Yelp listing. This isn't as hard as it seems, simply follow these steps:


  1. Go to http://biz.yelp.com/ Note: this is the business Yelp website, not the primary Yelp website at http://www.yelp.com/, which is used by consumers!
  2. Choose a login and password.  Note: do not lose this email, as it is incredibly difficult to re-claim a claimed business listing, or reset your business password.  So do not lose the Yelp login and password for your business!
  3. Follow the Yelp steps to find your business, and claim it.
Usually, you'll find your business on the Yelp website. Then you claim your business by verifying usually by telephone; so make sure someone is "standing by" at your business to answer the phone when you claim you listing.

TODO:  
Have we claimed our free business listing on Yelp?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________

Extra credit: have we stored our Yelp login and password in a safe place? (We'll need that to modify our listing).

#3a - Optimizing Your Yelp Listing: Define Your Keywords


Now that you've claimed your listing, it's time to optimize it! Optimization refers to making sure that your business listing contains the keywords that people search for on Yelp, on Google, and on Bing. If you are plumber, for example, you'll want to brainstorm how people search for plumbers. If you are a personal injury attorney, you'll want to brainstorm how people search for personal injury attorneys.

Go to http://www.ubersuggest.org/ or the Google Keyword Planner (http://bit.ly/kw-planner) and research keywords and key phrases. You'll quickly realize that people do searches for plumbers such as "24/7 emergency plumber" or "toilet repair," and for personal injury attorneys they might search for subspecialties like "medical malpractice attorney" or "slip and fall attorney."

Identify your core keywords as well as "helper" words (often best, top, top-rated) that people attach to relevant searches. Identify related ways that people might search for you (e.g., "toilet repair" for a plumber, or "medical malpractice lawyer" for a personal injury attorney).

As I teach in my online classes on SEO (http://www.jm-seo.org/), understanding your keywords is a critical first task. You gotta know your keywords and key phrases.


TODO:  
Have we researched our Yelp keywords for our business?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________


#3b - Optimizing Your Yelp Listing: Write Up Your Listing


A Yelp listing has three parts:


  • Specialties: a description of the business, especially the products and/or services that you offer.  Character limit is 1000 characters (use http://www.lettercount.com/ to count).
  • History: a history of the business, also limited to 1000 characters.
  • Meet the Business Owner: a place to describe the business owner or manager, also limited to 2000 characters.
  • Categories: relevant categories for your business, pre-determined by Yelp.

Now it's time to write up your listing. Take your keyword list, and write keyword heavy content for your Yelp listing. 

If you are a personal injury attorney, for example, you should write sentences that explain your practice areas as in 

We are a top-rated personal injury attorney serving Dallas, Texas, and nearby communities like Plano or Irving. Our practices focuses on medical malpractice, slip-and-fall litigation, as well as dog bites.

I've highlighted in yellow the target keywords. The trick is to include not just your core or primary keywords but adjacent keyword phrases and helper words. Your Yelp listing should reflect common ways people might search for your business.

Note that Yelp has censors who read your description, and they will bounce a listing that is overdone. So include your keywords, but do not over do it!

For "extra credit," be sure to add photos to your listing, and in the "captions" of those photos embed some of your keyword targets.


TODO:  
Have we written a keyword-heavy listing on Yelp for our business? 
Did we upload some nice-looking photos?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________


#4 - Cross-link Your Yelp Listing


Google and Bing pay a lot of attention to your Yelp listing, First and foremost, if your Yelp listing contains that same target keywords as your website, this reinforces your keyword focus. So make sure that your keyword list occurs on both your website and on Yelp. Secondly, if you cross-link your website to your Yelp listing and make sure that Yelp links back to your website, you have made it easy for Google and Bing to substantiate that you are a legitimate local business.

So your next TODO is simply to link FROM your website TO your Yelp listing, and vice versa.



TODO:  
Have we cross-linked our website to our Yelp listing? 
And our Yelp listing to our website?
YES: ❐ NO: ❐ Other: ❐ ________


#5 - Solicit Reviews (in a Very Nice Way)

Now that you have claimed your Yelp listing, optimized your Yelp listing for your target keyword searches, and cross-linked your Yelp listing to/from your website, you are pretty much set. The next big factor that influences whether you show up at the top of Yelp, Google, and Bing has to do with reviews.

Get reviews!  But be careful: do not pay for reviews, do not engage in fake reviews, and do not participate in any nefarious schemes.

Essentially, the more legitimate reviews you have on Yelp, the higher you'll show on all of the search engines, including Yelp. This is especially true for Yelp but it is also true for Bing (which is intertwined with Yelp) and for Google (though to a lesser degree on Google).

So now you need to go out and get reviews.  But wait: before you do that read the chapter on "how to solicit reviews". There is an art and science to nurturing positive reviews on Yelp, on Google, on Amazon and other review sites. So don't do anything about soliciting reviews until you've read the chapter on "How to Solicit Reviews."