Paul: All right. Welcome to our 97th episode. Busting myths about Yelp. We’re joined by Alex from Yelp, Ken from Changescape Web and Jen of New Initiatives Marketing. Full disclosure. Changescape Web is a Yelp partner. And there seems to be a lot of myths out there about Yelp. Yelp is a powerhouse in terms of an online directory and resource site for people looking for businesses.
But. A lot of times it’s a missed opportunity. So this week we’re gonna talk to Allie and in conversations with business owners there’s a lot of confusion around Yelp, whether it’s that Yelp is just for restaurants is a big one or they take down reviews. Absolutely. No reason. So we’re gonna talk about this, as well as give the audience some facts on these topics and ways to take advantage and get more out of their Yelp pages to capture a new audience.
So let’s get started. I’ll start. One of the big myths, like I mentioned is that Yelp is only for restaurants. What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Yelp?
Alexandra: I hear that a million times a day. I’ll talk to business owners who dentists or plumbers or hair salons. And they’ll be like, why are you trying to talk to me about Yelp?
Isn’t that just for restaurants and. Yes, we do have the most amount of searches for restaurants on Yelp. But when you think about it, people are eating three times a day. You need to find three different things to eat in a day, but how often are you searching for a plumber or a dentist or a hair salon?
Hopefully only once you’re gonna have a good experience with that business, build a relationship with it and not need to search again. So I think that truly is one of the biggest MIS misconceptions about Yelp is. We don’t have other searches going on. We definitely do yeah. I would say that it’s just for restaurants is one of the biggest for.
Ken: What’s interesting to me is we work with clients across the us and all of our clients on the coasts, regardless of what industry they’re in they’re telling us how important Yelp is for their business, but in the Midwest, which is where Paul and I are based. I think we don’t realize how important Yelp is and how searched it is for industries across the board.
Really. It’s really fascinating when you look at the statistics about that.
Alexandra: Just going off of that is that maybe, business owners who are not in the restaurant industry, thinking that they don’t need to worry about their Yelp pages or don’t need to pay attention to them. People are searching and you have an opportunity to captivate a new audience of people.
So by ignoring your Yelp page, if you’re any other industry would be a disservice to your Yelp page
Ken: Yeah, definitely. So I had another myth that we wanted to talk about, and that is you have to pay to drive business. To your Yelp profile. So what advice do you have for business owners who are not currently utilizing Yelp?
Is that a true statement or not?
Alexandra: Absolutely not. Absolutely not for paying Yelp and driving business from Yelp are two totally different things. So a lot of the times I’ll talk to business owners who have crazy pages. I will pick up the phone and I’ll be so excited to speak with them because they have hundreds of reviews and amazing photos and their page will be unclaimed and they don’t even know it.
It’s insane. It’s really crazy. I think that there’s two different ways that you can use Yelp. And there’s the natural search results. Where if someone just goes on to Yelp and they do a search again for a plumber or a dentist or a restaurant, they’ll see the natural listings and people are finding businesses through that every single day, they’re calling people through their Yelp pages, their mapping directions, they’re checking out their menus or their services on Yelp.
So they can even request quotes if they have their messaging on. But we also have paid services, of course, where you can optimize your exposure, get in front of searches faster, but really you don’t need to pay for Yelp by bet. A ton of business owners listening have drove at least one client or one new customer from Yelp without even knowing it.
Alexandra: I would agree. And I think in terms of advice that I’d have for a business owner is if you claim your Yelp page for free, if you add your own photos, if you reply to reviews and engage with your Yelp page and engage with that user generated content, that’s gonna help people who are going and finding you on Yelp to see that you actually care about it before they even come in.
And maybe it’ll trigger their mind to add to that and be looking for things in your business to, to put on your page after.
Jen: Okay, myth, number three, it’s more in the pay to play kind of category that we’re talking about. So the myth is that ad spend affects reviews. So does ad spend affect any of the kind of reviews that we have on our page for our business?
Alexandra: No, not at all. Some people do wish that was the. I’ve worked at Yelp for three years now. And honestly, I think if it was the case, I’d probably be very rich. The amount of people who have asked me to pay, to take down reviews or ask how much money they can spend on advertising to get these reviews taken down.
I probably wouldn’t need to work ever again, but no, absolutely not. Ad spend and reviews have nothing to do with each other. We have a recommendation software, which can’t even be changed by humans. It’s an algorithm. So if anyone knew exactly how it. People will be manipulating the system all the time.
We do have our trust.yelp.com to find more about that. There’s a bunch of videos. If anyone wants to take a look at that, but no, you can’t pay to, to have re reviews removed or good reviews added back on your page.
Ken: got it. Okay. That is a common question that I get as well. It’s clearly a challenge.
People do have a perception that something’s going on there. Again, always the best strategy is just deliver products and services that people naturally want to go write reviews about. And if you do that, regardless of the type of business, you have, let people know you’re on Yelp. You. Formally email ’em and say, Hey, go write a review.
Here’s my Yelp link. That’s against the Yelp terms of service, but you can put signage up. I think Yelp gives you if you have a brick and mortar business, Hey, we’re on Yelp. Now you’ve just triggered somebody’s thoughts to say, oh, okay. I had to take a picture of this great dish.
Just aid or write a review or whatever. So there are definitely ways that businesses can take control. And again, I think the more active that you work at within the boundaries of what is allowed by the terms of service of Yelp, you’re gonna get good results.
Alexandra : Yeah. And that actually reminds me of one other thing I wanted to add at.
Just what you just said. If you can control the controllable, if you are just managing your free Yelp page and adding those things to your store, that’s great. But also it’s like advertising. It’s like you can’t pay to have, more reviews or anything, but if you think about it, if you’re advertising on Yelp and you’re getting found by Yelp users are using the platform often, if they find you on Yelp, you give them that good experience.
They’re probably more likely to then go ahead and write you a Yelp review, which is gonna help your overall rating and drive more reviews. Just like you said, controlling the controllable.
Ken: And I would think that Yelp users are probably more in tune with writing reviews.
Paul: Something else that we hear a lot is that Yelp is, it’s just an app.
So if someone doesn’t have the app, they’re not gonna see their Yelp page. So how do most people interact with Yelp? And along those same lines can touch on this with a brick and mortar store. But if you’re a service area business, and you go to the customer like a roofer, maybe you don’t really have a physical location, how can a business promote their Yelp page, their Yelp presence.
Alexandra: You can have a Yelp page. If you don’t have a brick and mortar location, normally businesses who have e-commerce don’t have Yelp pages, but you still of course can have a Yelp page. If you’re a service business. That’s for sure to answer your question about that. Yelp is just in app. I would agree.
I think a lot of people do use Yelp just on their phones. I’m not gonna lie along with our app and our mobile site. We have a lot of people who use Yelp data to make purchasing decisions and probably don’t even know. So we do have licensing data partnerships with some of the best known brands in the online ecosystem.
If anyone is asking their apple products. So if they’re asking Siri, if they’re going on apple maps, that’s all Yelp data. If they’re asking their Amazon Alexa, we power the search results for Yahoo and Bing and Samsung products as. So there’s a lot of different ways that, that people can find Yelp pages besides just our app and our desktop.
Ken: And if you’ve ever done a Google search. For any painter near me or any of those kinds of phrases. Yeah. You are gonna get a Yelp results page. Very high up on the first page of the Google search results. I guarantee you people click through those pages and they go to Yelp on their desktop as well as using the app.
So I think that myth is to me is really one that seems crazy. Yeah. so I just did talk about Google and how people use Google, obviously to find business. Talk about the difference between Yelp and Google in terms of search and behavior after they search either one of those two platforms.
Alexandra: The difference between Yelp and Google is pretty simple.
Google is a search engine. Yelp is an online business directory. I think a lot of the time when I’m having these conversations about Yelp, people like to make it like a Yelp versus Google. And I don’t think that’s the case because they’re two totally different platforms. Again, I work at Yelp. I love Yelp, but I use Google every single day.
I’m not gonna say I don’t, there’s probably a lot more Google users than Yelp. Again, when we talk about what people are using the platforms for, if you go into your search history and you look at the past three searches that you did on Google, all three of those, and maybe not even one of them probably weren’t to spend money.
I bet mine was like how to spell something. Maybe I was checking out the score of a basketball game or something, or maybe watching a video. But when you come onto. You can’t find any of those things. You can only find businesses to spend money with. So maybe if I was going on to Google and searching for a plumber, I could find a DIY video on how to fix my drain myself.
Now I probably wouldn’t fix my drain myself, but I could find that. But if I went on to Yelp and I did a search for a plumber, the only thing I could find is a plumber to call or message right now. And that’s why Yelp’s conversion rate is so high, 97% of users who come to Yelp and do a search, make a purchase within the same week or the same.
Ken: Say that again, because that’s an absolutely staggering.
Alexandra: It is, it’s crazy. 97% of people who come to Yelp have an intent to make a purchase, which is crazy. And again, it’s just the only thing that you can find on the platform is a business to spend money with. It’s not like you can really do much else.
It’s not the funniest site in the world. It’s not Facebook. You can’t see what your ex from college did over the weekend. You can’t stalk these people like you do on Facebook. And I know I spend my time doing that, but that’s why on. There’s only one thing you can use it for.
Ken: Yeah, definitely. Paul and I talk about this all the time and Jen, you probably get into conversations like this with your clients, but we always try to look at intention and buyer intent.
Many of our customers, their advertising dollars should be spent when somebody is expressing an intent to buy. And so from that perspective, that’s one of the reasons why I really think Yelp as an advertising platform is so power.
Jen: It’s funny you say that there’ll be that conversation, but the other one too, is we find there’s a lot of resistance about certain directories to list a business on based on either the owners or the leaderships personal opinion about a site.
That’s one of the hurdles we have to cross. You may not like this site, however, you’re basically restricting yourself from being found online because of a personal, a personal hang up with one of the directories or one of the social media sites and whatnot. And you don’t have to like it to have it help your business.
Paul: So we have that conversation with clients it’s because while I wouldn’t do this well, that doesn’t matter. What would your customers do?
Ken: Yeah. What are your ideal customers do and where are they spending time online? Yeah, a hundred percent.
Jen: So I’ve got a myth air. It is funny cuz I’m like, oh, we’re going slightly to the negative.
So the myth we have myth, number six is people just go to Yelp to complain. So can you debunk that myth for us?
Alexandra: Yes. This one’s a quick one. What I’m saying is there’s always gonna be haters. Whether there’s the Yelp platform for it, whether it’s calling your best friend and complaining, or whether it’s posting that same review on Google.
So there’s always gonna be haters. But what I will say is that I think there’s some crazy statistic. Like 70% of our reviews on Yelp are four stars are higher. That’s just incorrect.
Jen: Yeah. Good. And also too, there’s been talk out there and, not new information, but sometimes a negative review is not necessarily negative against the business.
So case in point, the one I remember from the example was someone gave a negative review about a certain type of camera and that it didn’t have all the bells. On it. And so they gave it, say a one star and review, don’t like this blah, blah, blah. But for other people that were just looking for a camera that was much easier to use point and shoot, whatever it is, would’ve found that review very helpful.
There is context there for some negative reviews, negative against this, not negative against the business per se, as well on Yelp. I’m assuming there is, we don’t have any of our clients on Yelp. I should say that right now. it’s not anything. To Yelp at all, but we deal with a lot of like heavy duty B2B business.
So when I say heavy duty, we’re talking either industrial or software, that kind of thing. So within that, there’s also the type of thing where if there is a negative review, most people can understand. Is it someone just having a bad day renting? Is it someone really targeting a business? To be very negative about that, or is it a legit negative review and the business messed up or there was some kind of miscommunication and whatnot, but I’m assuming there’s a way for the business owner to comment or to have their say on any of the negative reviews on Yelp.
Alexandra: Is that right? Yeah, of course. So we allow business owners to both publicly and privately reply to. Again, if they’re keeping up with their Yelp page, they have the opportunity to make a wrong right. By taking the feedback from the person who had a bad experience and something that I’ll always say too, is everyone’s human.
Yeah. Maybe someone had a bad day and they didn’t like something that happened with that business, I think. But if it’s. Sandwiched in between two good reviews, the person reading, it probably is gonna get it. They’re gonna be able to make their own decisions about a business. I think when we’re talking about negative reviews, especially when we’re talking to business owners, it’s like you work every single day, so hard to make your business the best it can be.
So you’re obviously gonna pay the most attention to that bad review, but check out the other reviews of people saying good things about you and just going outta their way for no reason to write a good review. I think that’s important to remember as.
Ken: And I think a business responding to an experience that somebody had that was less than stellar, the way they handle that.
And the fact that they care and even respond is a strong signal to people. If there’s no response to a bad review, then people are gonna come to their own conclusions about that. If you at least respond and say, Hey, we’re sorry, you had a bad experience. Please contact us at such and such phone number or email address.
People see that the business is reaching out and trying to find a way to make things right. So I think it’s really important.
Alexandra: I would agree.
Ken: So from a Yelp advertising product perspective, can you talk a little bit about that and also maybe talk a little bit about demographics of the people who are using Yelp.
Alexandra: So to start with the demographics, it’s pretty easy. We’re pretty spread out between age groups, the different people using it. What I will say is the majority of Yelp users are college educated. They’re making over a hundred thousand dollars a year. So again, pretty good audience to get in front of.
And if you think about it, these people, they’re not only doing searches because they’re ready to spend they, most of the time have the means to do it. They’re a pretty good group to get in front of now. I’m not saying every single person who does a Yelp search is gonna be within that audience, but just from our data and studies.
That’s what I have to say about the audience, but in terms of the products that we have and how you can promote your business on Yelp. There’s two main features that, that I like to talk about. So one is our performance based ad program. And so when I was talking earlier about the natural listings and the ads at the top, so the natural listings, those, again, you can’t pay me.
You can’t message me after this and ask how to get up higher on those. Those are just gonna change by the user and rotate, but we can. Sponsor your page. You’ll come up in a sponsored section at the top, a Yelp search. They’re totally performance based. So again, going back to that Google conversation, it’s not Google versus Yelp or Facebook or anything like that.
If Bob is going to, to Google to find his plumber, great. He’ll find his plumber on Google and you won’t pay anything for your Yelp ad. You’re only gonna pay anything on Yelp. When someone comes to Yelp, they’re doing a search for a plumber in the area that you service and they see something that’s exciting about your business and they click on your ad in the sponsored section.
That’s part one, a high level overview of the performance based ad program. Part two of that is really where I see business owners like to really take control of their page and tell a story about their business, which is our enhanced profile and additional products. Basically what that is.
It’s a call to action button where you can send users to either call you or go to your website, business highlights, where you can tell a story about your business and point out the things that you think are the most special control your photo slideshow. So again, you can post things that you’re proud of removal of competitor ads.
So that’s like the general enhanced profile. We also have some great features like portfolio. So again, we have features or we have products that are tailored to businesses. Other than restaurants, we have portfolio where, home services can post some of the jobs that they’ve done and things that they want people to know that they do.
Jen: How about we go this way? Are there any kind of products or services or groups of businesses that Yelp really doesn’t cater to?
Alexandra: I don’t think so. Honestly, I think that eCommerce, because it’s a local business directory, so that’s probably not too helpful, but we have a very customizable product where you can really decide how you.
Your page to look how you want your ad to look who you want to see it, who you really can decide on that front. Oh, another product I wanted to talk about was connect and that’s a really great feature to again, tell a story and decide what you wanna share about your business. So it’s essentially where you can make posts and they’ll come up on your Yelp page and they’ll also be sent out to an email.
And promoted to people, existing customers of Yelp who have done related searches to your industry. By having that, you’re also able to then get in front of people who aren’t, maybe they are using Yelp for restaurants right now, but then they see your Yelp connect post. And they’re like, oh, this business is using Yelp.
I’m gonna click on them and check it out from there.
Ken: Jen, I know you work with a lot of B2B companies and also nationwide as opposed to local. Do you think Yelp works better for a local. Business and especially, like Jen talked about, if you’re a software company you’re gonna sell that across the country or even across the world, it’s almost like the e-commerce example that you mentioned.
Alexandra: Yeah. What are your thoughts on that? I would say that Yelp is mostly for local businesses. Now we do have, for an example, I have an advertising agency that I work with mostly digital, but she has an ad that you can pick 25 areas. So whether. Zip codes, towns cities you can totally decide where you want your ad to appear.
So if it’s something like that, where it’s, again you do have a physical location, you’re a local business, but you can service other areas. That’s fine. You have up to 25 areas, but again, it probably, it’s not the best for eCommerce and, B2B that are national and things like that.
Jen: Okay. That makes sense. That makes sense.
Paul: Thank you, Ken touched on this a little bit with. Ads and the things people do or don’t do, but what are some of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re setting up their profile? Cause you have to set up a profile. That’s where you start.
So what are some of the biggest mistakes people making when they set up their profile?
Alexandra: Yeah. I feel like a very common theme of all of this so far has been just interacting with your page in general. And I would say the biggest mistake people make is just not fully setting it up or ignoring it all together.
There’s a lot of things on Yelp where you again, have the ability to tell a story and give these. These customers a sense of who they’d be working with. So sometimes people don’t fully fill out all of their specialties, or maybe they’re not always in all of the categories that they service. So maybe it’s just like painters instead of home services as well.
Making sure you have everything filled out and it’s not too specific. I would recommend being more broad. because again, people are gonna know what they’re searching for. They’re gonna know what they’re looking for, and they’re gonna be able to see if you fit that criteria or not, when they’re scrolling through.
So giving them the options to pick you. Also, I really recommend the, about the business owner section and the history of the business. Sometimes people are like pro. Why do they care about me? Like why do they care about this kind of stuff? And I think that’s the beauty of Yelp. Our consumers really do wanna build a relationship with the business they’re working with.
And that’s why, again, like I was talking about earlier, there’s a lot more searches for restaurants, cuz you’re searching for restaurants every time you wanna eat. But hopefully you find that one plumber from Yelp that you can continue. Okay.
Jen: So this is not a myth. But what are some of the best practices that business should follow for their Yelp profile?
And just to add to that, is there one section that you find is always left blank or people don’t pay enough attention to that? They really should.
Alexandra: Yeah, honestly, it just goes back to what I was saying. And the about the business inter section is pretty much always blank or either people don’t have photos or anything like that.
So I like that section a lot. And I think when people fill out that section, it honestly makes them a little bit more proud of their business and they get into it a little bit more and it makes them more excited about Yelp and sharing their. Like
Jen: why I started this business, why this means to us like that kind of thing.
Hey exactly. Oh, wow. Yeah. Oh good.
Ken: So can a business put a video on their Yelp profile?
Alexandra: Not all businesses can, if you are. Advertising through a Yelp partnership, you can, but you cannot. So that’s an exclusive benefit of advertising through a Yelp partnership.
Ken: It just made me think of it because telling a story is really important and the reality is people wanna buy from people that they know and trust video is a great way to be able to do that.
But also, like you said, filling out the, about the owner’s profile is a great way to help people understand who they’re doing business with and maybe what motivated them to start the business, or why are they so passionate about doing what they do?
Alexandra: And I think that might be something that we. As a society kind of came more into during the COVID times we wanna spend money with businesses that we know are going to feel the effect, and we wanna know who we’re working with and things like that.
So I think just really taking advantage and filling out every section of Yelp and everything that we allow you to put about your business. It’s like, why wouldn’t you? Absolutely.
Paul: We have a little bit of time here. Does, did we miss anything? Alexandria? Did we miss anything or does anyone have any questions?
Jen: So I have one that we didn’t cover, which countries is Yelp in.
Alexandra: I think we’re pretty much everywhere. I actually had someone by accident doing a search in Argentina the other day. And they’re like, why can’t I find the page that I’m looking for? And I was like, I think you accidentally did the search in Argentina.
Wow. Okay. I don’t know exactly every single place that we’re in, but I think we’re pretty far spread pretty far
Ken: It’s fantastic. I just wanted to talk a little bit about kind of the searches based on the business type.
We talked about there’s that bias that it’s really geared toward lifestyle businesses, especially restaurants and things like. That and yeah, there’s a lot more searches for that, but you’ve explained why that is, but professionals there’s still 4 million searches, home remodelers and services businesses, 32 million healthcare, 21 million retail, 38 million auto.
15 million beauty, 27 million hotels and travel 6 million active lifestyle like gyms and fitness, 18 million. That’s a pretty broad spectrum of people who are using Yelp and searching Yelp to find a business.
Alexandra: Definitely. And those are unique visitors on a monthly basis. Okay. On a
Ken: monthly basis. Yeah. So that’s even more impressive.
Jen: and what. Either the tech support or you’re an account executive. So I’m assuming you’re assigned to a few different clients, for sure. What is it like for the experience, if a business owner has a problem with their listing or wants to get something changed, are they up to the algorithm or is there someone they can talk to?
Alexandra: What’s that like? Yeah. We of course have a customer success team who they can email, they can call for sure. Most businesses have local reps that have that reach out to them. I’m sure a lot of business owners get phone calls and emails from us as well. I actually work directly with agencies, so I’m an agency partner.
So if you have an agency that you’re working with, that’s doing your advertising for you. I. They might be a Yelp partner. They might have a direct contact as well. So it just depends on the situation. Oh, that’s great. Yeah,
Ken: it’s really a fascinating platform. I remember I’ve been a Yelp user, I don’t know, since probably 2008 or so probably when it first began and.
One of the things that I don’t even, I don’t know the answer to this with Facebook or Twitter, or, some of the other social media platforms, you have management tools that will allow you to publish the content without having to directly log into those platforms. Does y’all have anything like that?
Alexandra: We don’t, we want business owners to make sure that it’s directly going on Yelp instead of all the.
Ken: Because you only allow specific types of content as well, too. You wouldn’t want, have people posting links to blog posts and stuff like that.
Alexandra: Yeah. Yeah. Just personalized for Yelp.
That’s for good. Yeah. Yeah.
Ken: Okay, cool.
Paul: This was very informative and I think there’s a lot of things, people. Misunderstand about Yelp or just have flat wrong we hear a lot, but yeah, I think this is a good place to wrap up and thanks everyone for joining us and Alexander, thank you for being a guest on our podcast.
Alexandra: Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. Yeah, it was fun.