Yelp is a great site for local businesses to get feedback and improve search results for their businesses. Most local business don’t realize how powerful online reviews can be. Reputations can be ruined online by a bad review (know RipOffReport?? Just try to get a negative report off your record!). At first you might not think twice about it but a bad online review can be devastating to your small business (see this example).
More people go online to find out about your business instead of looking in the phone book. A negative review could be one of the first search results that come up when someone types in your business name into Google. That’s why SEO for small businesses is wise – it’s a proactive way to manage your reputation on the Internet. You can create links in search results that go to trusted sites that speak well of your business.
Most local review sites don’t give you a chance to respond to a customer complaint. Yelp recently introduced some new tools so you can manage your business profile. You should claim your business at https://biz.yelp.com and then customize it.
Your gut reaction to a negative review can be to retaliate or react in a way that makes you look even worse. Here’s some practical advice to business owners – from Yelp.
This is great advice for blog posts or other forms of negative reviews that can become PR nightmares and catch you off-guard:
- DON’T review your own business anonymously or get your friends to do the same.
- DON’T overestimate the impact of a single negative review. It happens to even the best businesses. That said, if you see a trend of negative reviews, you may want to take this feedback and determine if there is a way to improve your business.
- DON’T lash out at the people who have written negative reviews about you. Tempting as that may be, we see that backfiring in some cases as the Yelp community may up the ante and even engage in “vigilante justice” by spreading more negativity. Try to remember, “the customer is always right”.
- DON’T offer incentives or payment for your customers to write positive reviews about your business on Yelp. This sort of “shilling” often causes ill will with both current and potential customers. In addition, these paid reviews violate Yelp’s Review Guidelines and will be removed.
- DO review your own business, clearly stating that you are the business owner. Full disclosure is important here, and will be critical in earning the respect of the Yelp community.
- DO take the feedback to heart but remember that each review is just one single opinion, sand it’s the entire set of the Yelp reviews together that really matters most.
comScore and Compete data puts monthly traffic to Yelp at 3.7 million and 9 million unique visitors.