How to Get Your Business on Yelp

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Small Business RatingsYelp, a local business directory site with reviews by its members, is becoming increasingly popular in metro markets. It’s influence can be seen in both San Francisco, Chicago and New York where many shop owners display a “Yelp” sticker on their storefront windows.

As online directories take a certain market share away from traditional Yellow Pages – and even search engines – the rise in the popularity of website surfers looking for reviews has increased dramatically since 2005 (when Yelp first launched).

Yelp is also becoming a place where restaurant owners, plumbers and even professional services providers like attorneys can advertise. They have three ways of getting your local business listed – by advertising at a flat monthly rate, by paying $3 per click, or simply being listed for free.

Here’s how to be listed for free (it’s not as easy as one would hope).

Step 1)

Search to see if your business is listed on yelp. If you’re in a smaller city, you may not show up, although this is good news since it will be easier in smaller cities to add your listing. If you do see that your business is listed, you can unlock your business on yelp here. In more crowded cities like San Francisco, it can take weeks for your listing to get approved.

Want to know a secret? Letting them know you are thinking of advertising with them will let you speak to an account manager, who can then “turn on” your business listing within a day or two. But be honest and let them know if your free listing works out well to drive new customers, you will seriously consider calling them back and upgrading your account.

Step 2)

You can upload pictures of your business or staff, and it’s encouraged to load as many as possible.

a) For the sake of hoping your yelp page ranks higher in the search engines, name your photos files with keywords in it. For example, a picture of the front of your store would be named something like “Johns-Pizza-San-Francisco.jpg.”

b) If you’re a retail outfit, upload a special offer with a coupon – these help drive interactions and phone calls to your business. If you’re professional services, offer a free hour consultation or some other special unique to yelp visitors (yelpers) only.

c) Make sure your address and business category is correct.

Step 3)

Do not, I repeat, do not write a review of your own business. Yelp can detect things like this easily and will simply filter out such reviews and make placing future reviews harder. Instead, find others you know who have already signed up for yelp to say great things about your business. Here’s a few quick rules on getting reviews –

a) Don’t have friends new to yelp sign up and leave their first review for your business. Yelp can detect this and will filter their reviews.

b) Don’t have too many reviews too quickly. Timing the solicitation of reviews is important.

c) Feel free to let reviews grow organically, or consistently ask your customers to rate their experience with you on yelp.

d) It’s ok to have a few mediocre or bad reviews. They add a sense of authenticity to the rest of the good reviews. No one bats 1000 in life or business!

Step 4)

Climb the rankings. When people on yelp search for a business, the search results are not random, meaning that they have their own algorithm for sorting the order in which local businesses appear. While the number of reviews and star ratings is not the only determinant in your business profile’s rank, they are strong factors and the more reviews you have, the higher generally your business should be listed in any given search.

Step 5)

This is the most important step to determine how well yelp is working for you – get a local DID and place it on your yelp account. Instead of placing your current business phone number, getting a local DID which forwards to your local number will tell you how many phone calls your yelp listing is generating. It’s super easy to set up on services like Halloo (yes, I’m biased :). If you see that yelp is working for you, you have three choices –

1) Upgrade to a paid plan at $325 per month with a six month commit.
2) Upgrade to a paid plan at $300 per month with a one year commit.
3) Pay $3 per click.

Those can all be expensive options, so go ahead and try the free listing first, but please do have a local DID listed as your yelp number, otherwise you won’t know whether you should upgrade to a paid plan.
Business Ratings on Yelp

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  • Lynda Malerstein

    I wish I’d seen this post before the social media marketing person i hired told me to open a yelp account and send links to clients asking them to post reviews. I had 12 within a few days. That was a year ago. Now Yelp thinks I am a scam and has filtered all my good reviews, including some that have come since then, and left in the one bad review I have ever had in my 12 years in business. At last look I had one good review and one really bad one showing, making me look like I do a poor job at my business.

    Now that the damage has been done, is there any way to get my listing off of Yelp? Some of those comments filter into my Google listings, which are the bread and butter of my business. I’m so upset.

  • John Sung Kim


    we totally emphasize with your situation. With all of the reviews that gets, they do have a legitimate need to have an algorithm filter out suspected fake reviews, but it is not perfect.

    Here’s my suggestion –

    1) Get on yelp’s pay per click program. At $3 per click, it’s a far better bargain (do the math) than paying $340 per month flat fee per a limited number of impressions. And more often than not – it works.

    2) You can’t do much about Google using yelp reviews for your local listing – however you can have happy customers encouraged to leave reviews on Google Local to more accurately relfect the level of service you provide.

    3) Reply to the person who left you a negative review. Offer them something for free. I know it sucks but it’s how things are best resolved in the “new economy.”

    Hope that helps. Good luck Lynda – and please tell others about our blog – our mission here is to help other small business owners with their web marketing.

  • Erika Anderson

    I do not have a website. I am trying to get my business Erika Anderson Acupuncture on yelp, but it does not seem to be working. Is it because I do not have a website? I thought I could us my email as my website?

    Please let me know what I am doing wrong.

  • Hawaiianmojo

    I have added my business now TWICE to Yelp. It gave me back a link to use while it was being “approved”, but it STILL can not be found when searching for a business. I have had two reviews since I posted the link to my social media page. You can view the page, etc, but you can NOT search for it because it says there is no such listing & asks if I wan to add it AGAIN… Am I missing a step or doing something wrong?! The first add was way back in November. The second time I added it was at the beginning of January! I STILL have not gotten an “approval” message from Yelp, but the link to my page still works & people are allowed to post reviews!
    Please Help Re: Yelp!