Why you should (not) advertise on Yelp

I’ve been looking at local search for a while now, being listed in Google places has helped my business tremendously by being ranked well in a Google organic search results, so much so that my business is a favorite place on Google. (I got the fancy QR code sticker and everything.) In the last few months I have been studying other local search such as foursquare and yelp. I have been asking experts in the photography field about how local search affects photographers online and had an interview with Rosh Sillars, co-author of “The Linked Photographer’s guide” on his podcast the new media photographer. Yesterday I got a call from a very kind and knowledgeable sales rep from Yelp and I had a long phone call with him this morning. I learned a lot about Yelp and thought I’d share it here.

the free business profile on Yelp

Yelp’s business listings let your customers write reviews about your business and also give you a chance to add some basic information about your business, similar to a profile on Google local. It includes your address, contact info, link to your website, map of the business location, room for a special offer, your opening hours, some options for sharing this listing and writing a review and a space for an add of your competitor (more on that later).

Below the fold your business listing continues with your reviews and some more information about your specialities, your businesses history and a brief bio of you the business owner


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Joel Adauto - a couple of months ago Reply

Some top advice here, and I agree it is extremely important to diversify your marketing strategy, don’t just focus on one channel.Working in marketing I come across umteen businesses that just do the opposite of your advice re stay local. They don’t even consider it, they just broadcast their message without thinking how to focus on their target market, and even better, their local target market.What Patrick said in his comment is a good point, provide your customers with a means of staying in touch and your success rate will be much higher. Or should I say, your ‘targeted’ success rate.The problem is, and I know this from experience, you can advise people what to do, but for them to get off their backsides and do it is a different matter. They seem as keen as mustard when you tell them about it, but unless they have a schedule and stick to it, they will let their online marketing go stale.

Pascal Depuhl - 7 months ago Reply

Mark, thanks for your comment.

I do use Yelp a lot as a customer when I’m traveling. It’s a quick way to find a good restaurant in a new town.
You are also right on the money when you say that commercial photography probably won’t get booked through a ‘homemaker’ or a consumer. How B2B or commercial photography is marketed is very different that one would market a B2C or retail photography studio. Yelp is very much a B2C platform – I can’t see a kitchen appliance wholesaler putting any stock in the reviews of a restaurant’s patrons to figure out where to sell his commercial ovens.

Lastly SEO is more like marketing and less like sales. If you place an ad in the paper, you don’t pay for results, you pay based on how many subscribers are going to see the ad. I’ve always said that SEO only gets you into the door. Your images and your brand are what gets you the job and your follow through and the experience your client has on the shoot will get you the repeat business.

Mark Gilvey - 7 months ago Reply

Yelp is for exactly what it’s name is; whiners. While I can agree it’s handy for restaurants, other businesses not so much. One of my clients got a bad review from someone who never used his service. They gave him a bad review just because he received a bad review from someone else. What the? Another big warning flag is the fact that their sales staff will call you constantly. They will even use area codes that are local in your area to trick you into thinking it’s a local call so you are more likely to pick up the phone and deal with their high pressure sales people. I don’t like Yelp but they seem to be a necessary evil so I’m listed there. They would probably do better if they split their service and rebrand it for restaurants instead of whiners. I’m really annoyed, as well, that Apple would partner with them to serve up their listings on Apple Maps.

As for SEO, while I agree that lots of eyeball increase the chances of making a sale some of us are never going to get anything from someone just seeing your listing. In some genres (commercial photography), the right person is not going to be Harry or Harriet home maker. Which makes me wonder why at all I have a page on Yelp because as it was mentioned, your next corporate gig is probably not going to come from there.

As for SEO (part deus): You know, if you or I refer someone to a business, they might give us a finders fee IF that lead comes to fruition. If a salesman completes a sale, he gets a commission. He doesn’t get it just for meeting you or talking to you on the phone; why on earth should we pay for eyeballs to see our page. Maybe there needs to be a new model where the PPC doesn’t get any money unless we make an actual sale.

Marketing Hack #12: Compliments are meant to be shared - a couple of years ago Reply

[…] But there are only a few places online, that let people write these compliments online, I’m thinking primarily LinkedIn (for B2B) and Google (for clients that find you though search) and not so much Yelp – I love Yelp when I’m looking for a restaurant, but I have not seen anyone pull their website up to find a commercial or advertising photographer (that’s why I think it makes no sense for you to advertise on Yelp.) […]

DeVende Photography - 5 years ago Reply

Cool review on Yelp, I’m about to launch a paid per click advertisement in which my yelp guy says its 3 dollars per click, I’m skeptical, but want to see for a month if it works. Will let you know :)

Urban Leasing & Realty - 6 years ago Reply

Great, thorough review of Yelp. Why do you think that organic is so much more productive than paid advertising? After all, many people are spending a lot of money to SPAM organic results.

Adryenn Ashley - 7 years ago Reply

Excellent analysis and overview of what Yelp offers. A nice neutral perspective too. That’s refreshing. Although there may be a bug somewhere in their program. When you come off paid status, I’ve heard several complain that their pages then weren’t indexed anymore, not on Google or searchable. It got fixed, but I have seen it for myself that some pages are suppressed. So I’d work that into the contract that you are trying for a limited time and that your page will revert exactly as it is now on the free page, still be indexed, etc. just to make sure. They’ve added some wicked killer tracking and back end stuff for business lately so I can see why you’re considering it.

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