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Should I Use Yelp for Business Owners?

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We’ve all heard of Yelp. You might think of it simply as a helpful website that advises you to steer clear of that new Asian-Fusion place on Main Street (the service is terrible and you will get food poisoning). Based on how fellow customers rate restaurants and other businesses on a five-star scale, you can make decisions about whether various establishments are worth your time. You can even see pictures of locations, plates of food, menus, hotel rooms, and more.

But there is more to Yelp than just customer reviews of local services. On the other side of the curtain is a whole array of business tools designed to bring more customers through your doors. Functioning much like a social media account, Yelp for Business Owners lets you post pictures, interact with customers, and even buy targeted advertising to help grow your business. Ranging from free options that allow you to “claim” your business to paid subscriptions providing advertisements and high-quality video support, Yelp for Business Owners might be just the thing you have been looking for to give your business a boost.

But is it worth the expenditure? What can Yelp for Business really do for you? Read on to find out.

Do I Have To Pay To Create A Yelp Account For My Business?

Yelp for Business is free at the most basic level, but there are paid options if you want more features. Let’s take a closer look at the costs involved.

Free Tools:

The basic concept behind the free tools is that you can claim your business and establish a greater presence through Yelp. In many cases, your business will already be on Yelp, with positive and negative reviews, photos, and traffic already present. By claiming your own business, you will be able to gain some control over that content, including the ability to respond to reviews and add your own photos. In most cases, and especially if your business is already rated and reviewed on Yelp, there is no reason not to at least check this version of Yelp for Business out.

Self Service:

If you want to take advantage of Yelp’s proven popularity with consumers, you may find it advantageous to try their advertising service. The self-service option allows you to set your own budget for ads and will target people searching similar services to yours within your area. Yelp does not post their prices publically, but I found a general consensus among small business owners that pricing starts at $5 per day. Opting for this plan also allows for an “upgraded slideshow,” and removal of competitor ads when potential customers are looking at your Yelp page. This service costs an additional $25 per month and allows you to select your own photos for your homepage slideshow.

Full Service:

Signing up for the Full Service option gives you the opportunity to add a video to your Yelp profile, as well as a “call to action button” on your page. Both of these make your Yelp page stand out from competition, which could be valuable if there are lots of similar businesses to yours in your area. The Full-Service package also includes support from Yelp’s own team of marketing experts, who will be on hand to help you craft your ads and deal with bad reviews and difficult customers.

How Easy Is It To Use Yelp For Business?

By all accounts, Yelp for Business Owners is very straightforward to use. It is easy to add photos and respond to customers on Yelp’s web platform. Designing an ad campaign is also pretty easy since all you have to do is set your budget. From there, Yelp chooses what keywords to optimize, what pages to display your ad on and all the rest. So far, so good. However, if you do decide to sign up for Yelp’s advertising (hoping to take advantage of Yelp’s high trust rating with internet users), be aware that some things just aren’t possible. Hoping to set geographic boundaries for your advertisements? No can do. Want to specify particular keywords to direct traffic your way? Big nope there. So while the actual operating of Yelp for Business is pretty easy, the lack of things to do does not bode well for the app.

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Are There Downsides To Using Yelp?

Well, we have partially answered that question already. The limitations on your advertising potential are a huge drawback for a platform that is supposed to be all about advertising for local businesses. Unfortunately, the bad news does not end there. In addition to being a little opaque in terms of usability, Yelp for Business is expensive. With prices starting at $350 per month and only increased from there, you will be paying exponentially more for Yelp than you would for Google, Facebook, or other ads. On top of that, I read reports from several users (read: most that I saw) claiming that it can be hard to determine just how effective those ads really are. Proponents of Yelp talk about the excellent reputation the site has with consumers and how often users visit an establishment once they look it up on the site. But actually finding how those statistics apply to small business owners can apparently be rather difficult.

On top of that, Yelp’s customer service reps can be charitably described as… persistent. I ran across more complaints about this aspect of Yelp for Business Owners than any other. Once you make it known to Yelp that you might be interested in an advertising contract, they push for it hard, even to the point of insisting that a higher price will be so beneficial to your business that you can’t afford not to give in and sign up. As a small business owner myself, I can’t imagine the frustration of continually having to defend my own decision to limit my budget below what a sales rep thinks is wise. After all, the business is mine.

Final Thoughts

Yelp is a proven platform that users–your future customers–trust almost implicitly. That said, Yelp for Business can be expensive, on the opaque side, and possibly less effective than advertised. My own take on it is this: signing up with Yelp for Business Owners is worthwhile if you already have a significant following on the platform. If your business already has positive reviews and has a decent history, you may as well at least claim your business on Yelp and upload some official photos. It might even be worth it to give in and pay for some ads. Just make sure you have a strategy in place for using Yelp for your business marketing.

If your business is brand new and has little to no Yelp presence, you may not want to go beyond confirming your business. At the very least, you should wait for a more established footprint on this review site before paying at all for their advertising; your money will just be better used elsewhere.

Get Started With Yelp For Business Owners

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Wesley Kriz

Writing from the Pacific Northwest (read: the Best Coast), Wesley graduated from George Fox University in 2014 with a degree in History, then again from George Fox in 2016 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. He has been writing about project management for 2 years, and keeps a running list of wacky software brand names; seriously, it's wild out there
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2 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Sam

    IMO, if I want to get found online and boost my business, I don’t think going with Yelp would be the first thing I’d do. (No disrespect re: this article, btw. I’m just kind of piggybacking on it).
    I would rather concentrate my efforts with increasing my online presence in Google search both locally (my geographic area) and organically. Here’s why: In 2018, it has been recorded that 2 Trillion searches PER DAY were made in Google. The best way to do that (and stay WELL within budget!) is to not only have a great-looking and user-friendly website that’s both fast, efficient, and optimized for search engines; but I’d want my GMB (Google My Business) listing to be optimized as well. When you need a plumber or electrician, for instance, do you say “Let me Yelp them” or do you say “Let me Google them”? Same applies to restaurants, shops, etc. So, when I see a properly-optimized GMB listing in the search results page, it will allow me to see the business name and contact info, reviews, photos, videos, links to the website & social media, questions, and answers left on there by actual people – basically, more than enough info to help me make a well-informed decision. And I get to see all this before even thinking about going to Yelp. The best part of this (for business owners)? Google doesn’t charge a dime to list a business with them. Great article, though! 🙂

      Cheri

      Yelp for Business is a scam, IMO! They fleeced me $800 for two months. Setting an ad campaign, their rep showed no concern for my stated budget. I clearly told them I could not afford even $100/month in advertising; then I foolishly depended on them to guide me. I was a babe in the woods. If you use this service, understand very clearly what charges will be, and follow your reports closely. I paid $7 per up to fifteen clicks per day, with the clicks most often not pertaining to my specific service. Stay away from Yelp for Business ad campaigns if you are on a small budget!

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