Get the Most from Yelp for Your Business

At a recent networking event, a small retailer told me she did not have time to be online. I tried to break it to her gently: her business is online, whether she wants it or not. I pulled up her business’ Yelp profile. The look on her face was priceless.

There are many online business directories out there. Many are specific to one or more industry. Yelp covers most, so it is a good starting point for managing your online presence beyond your own website.

Yelp’s mission is to connect consumers with great local businesses. Like many sites, Yelp has documented a growing volume of visitors from mobile devices, so there is a lot of focus on making the site easy to use from the small screen.

Yelp hosts more than 85 million reviews of businesses from dentists to mechanics. If you are a brick and mortar B to C business, you are likely on Yelp.

Every business owner can set up a free account to present an accurate profile and post photos and messages. You can choose to pay for ads at the site. Sorry, but that doesn’t give you any leverage to change any bad reviews at the site.

Yelp realizes that some people are really into writing reviews of the places they patronize. So, the company has been working to build communities across the country to encourage these evangelists to keep at it. Quality reviews are helping Yelp to be a go-to resource for many people.

Getting back to those negative reviews, never let fear of a negative review on Yelp (or anywhere) stop you from being part of any online community. No one will write your business off due to negative reviews unless they are 1) your most common type of review and 2) you are silent.

When someone cares enough to write a critical review, that is your opportunity to fix something that may not have been handled well. Reach out, get more information, offer to do something to address the concern. Negative feedback can be hard to hear, but if you are serving consumers theirs is the most important voice for you to listen to.

Remember that your business relies on healthy relationships with your customers. Knowing what they are thinking — good and bad — and being willing to listen and respond is fundamental to the success of your business.