If you own a restaurant or other type of business location, another important task to do after claiming your locations on Google Local Business is to claim them on Yelp. This is the third post in my series of 7 Social Media Must-Do's for the Restaurant Industry and while my research is based on work in the restaurant industry, it is applicable to any business with a physical location that is visited by either retail or business customers.
Yelp is important because it is emerging as the leading consumer review site for many types of businesses and it currently receives high priority from the Google Search Engine results - generally in the top 5 based on my tests. My explanation for this high search engine ranking is that Yelp uses natural language URLs for each of it's review sites. For example, the URL for the Ruby's Diner in Huntington Beach is http://www.yelp.com/biz/rubys-diner-huntington-beach and the Yelp listing appears as the 4th item in a Google search. Now that we have some trend information on page views for my client's businesses, I can also see that Yelp traffic grew nearly 75% in the first quarter of 2010. I know that there are other review sites out there including Urban Spoon, CitySearch, Bing and Zagat - but none of these sites seem to have the volume of reviews and comments. And these other sites don't have the easy-to-use and pleasant-to-the-eye website experience that Yelp has either.
You want to claim your location for several reasons:
- Update business details - As a business owner, you can update the business listing including providing details about your specialties and business history.
- Set up special promotions or announcements - Business owners can set up offers or announcements that appear at the top of your individual profile.
- Review alerts - Once you have claimed a location, you will receive an email message whenever you receive a new review or message for that location. This is a great feature so you don't have to keep reviewing your Yelp business page to look for new reviews.
- Message reviewers - One of the most important reasons to claim your business is that business owners can reply directly or publicly to people who have left reviews on their site. My recommendation is that you privately message reviewers and I know that the personal contact is appreciated. I have received more than several return comments saying that my message was the first they ever received from a review they left. Engaging customers is one of the top objectives in social media and Yelp really helps you achieve this objective.
- View location dashboard - Finally, the business owner gets a on the number of page views for their business as well as a dashboard with links to reviews and messages. If you claim multiple locations, your locations are available from a drop-down list to the right of your tabs.
The process for claiming a location is pretty straightforward. You click on the "Is This Your Business?" link that appears just after a summary of the location details. When you click on the link you go to a follow-on page that says it an automated phonebot will call the number listed as the business phone number on your page and you will have to punch in the provided 4-digit code. This is a simple process, but can be somewhat excruiating if you have more than 10 (or 30 or 300) locations to claim. Yelp does offer special business owner tools for companies with larger number of locations, but they are quite pricey (about $75 per month per location) and Yelp doesn't put these details on their website. I was told by a Yelp representative that the Yelp service is geared more toward businesses with one location (or just a few locations). I know the $75 per month per location for the extended business services could not be justified by my client.
After claiming the location, you are able to edit some of the information, fix the business hours, add an announcement or coupon and add your own business photos. Now that I know what to look for in a claimed business, it is so sad to see unclaimed businesses with incomplete profiles and no pictures uploaded.
Below is an example of the Dashboard you get for every location claimed on Yelp. There is a drop-down in the upper right corner that let's you select which location you want to view in case you have claimed multiple locations. The information on the Dashboard is as follows:
- Summary - the Summary page shows the number of business page views for the last 13 months.
- Offer & Announcements - displays the current offer for this location.
- Reviews - lets you easily view all of the reviews
- Business Information - permits easy access to editing business information
- Business Photos - this is where you can upload your own business photos
- Messaging - summarizes the messages you have sent to reviewers
Do I have any recommendations for Yelp? Of course I do. They need to make it easier (and cheaper) for businesses with multiple locations to claim and access their locations. Yelp also needs to provide better analytic information to business users (see Foursquare or Facebook Fan Page Insights for examples). For example, it would be great to have a summary of stats across all of my locations or an easy way to look at all reviews for all locations sorted by date. Yelp also needs to "play better" with Google and the two of them need to figure out how Yelp reviews can appear in the Google Local Business Pages instead of the lame reviews currently shown. Finally, Yelp needs to make it easier for a team of people to manage claimed locations on Yelp. There are no ways to add additional managers to a claimed account or to have the location claimed by a 'corporate-owned' user account.