Falling Amongst the Stars: Tips for Improving Your Yelp Ratings

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

One of the most important things that business owners can do to capitalize on their success is to manage their online reputation on Yelp.

One of the most important things that business owners can do to capitalize on their success is to manage their online reputation.

If you're not familiar with Yelp, then you may wonder what all the fuss is about. The review site provides a source for customers to review the products and services of local businesses in order to help the community get the inside scoop. According to a Harvard Business School Study, a one-star increase in Yelp ratings translated into a revenue increase between five to nine percent.

On top of this, a study by two Berkeley economists found that even an extra half-star rating on Yelp can enhance business at peak times by up to 19 percent. In other words—good reviews can have a fantastic impact on your business.

Fortunately, increasing your ratings on Yelp doesn't have to be as difficult as it seems.

Because this website's algorithm rounds your overall rating up to the nearest half-star, as little as five additional reviews can improve your business's rating to that all-important next level. Here are some tips for how you can effectively improve your Yelp ratings.

Related Article: Reputation Management: The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing Strategy

Know the Rules

Yelp's policy prohibits businesses from attempting to solicit reviews from customers. This means that if you violate the rules of Yelp by attempting to bribe your customers into a better review—by offering freebies or discounts in exchange for stars—you may end up with a customer alert banner.

Instead, try to make consumers aware of your business' online presence by adding a Yelp link or badge to your business website, posting a sign or including a link to your Yelp profile when you send out company emails.

Unlock Your Page and Fill Out Your Profile

Anyone can create a Yelp business page, so as a company owner you should make sure that you take the time to unlock your business page. Doing this will give you the ability to post specials, photos, hours, website links and more—perfect for fleshing out rankings and search results.

Furthermore, like many other engines, Yelp values businesses that complete their profiles. Take advantage of an easy ranking factor and include as much information about your business as possible, including things like:

  • Pictures
  • Company hours of operation
  • Locations
  • Website

Make Sure Positive Reviews Aren't Getting Stuck

This is a big step when it comes to improving your Yelp rating—making sure that you check the filter for positive reviews that might have gotten stuck in the pipeline. Yelp uses an algorithm to hide reviews that it believes to be inauthentic, but unfortunately, a significant number of companies listed on Yelp have positive reviews taken from real customers that get stuck in this filter.

To ensure Yelp doesn't mistake your legitimate reviews as fake, try reaching out through the Yelp messaging platform to the customers who have left the reviews. Let these users know that you appreciate their feedback, and hope they will update their rating so that it appears on the main page.

Another method you can try is offering yelpers specific instructions on how to make their review seem more legitimate. For example, you could ask them to add a profile picture, check into their account from local places on a mobile, or become more active.

Don't Ignore Negative Reviews

If you do receive poor reviews, then try responding to them as politely as possible—acknowledging what you believe to have gone wrong, and clarifying anything that may be incorrect. As always, thank your customers for their feedback, and apologize if you believe it is necessary.

Next, invite the reviewers to give you a chance to improve in the future. A diplomatic response to negativity can go a long way in softening a harsh review. Research suggests that if a customer can appreciate the customer service that they receive, they are over five times more likely to leave a 5-star review in the future.

Related Article: When Bad Reviews Hit: Should You Call Legal or PR?

Appreciate Yelp

For business owners, there's plenty to hate and love about a user-review site such as Yelp. With their growing user base, racking up enough positive reviews can make you irresistible to customers, but the algorithm that the website uses can make things tricky from time to time.

Remember though, you shouldn't trick yourself into thinking that you can take the easy route and create new accounts to boost your score—Yelp has created a filter to ensure that fake reviews stay off the site. Instead, you need to be sure that you're collecting all of the most positive reviews you can get your hands on—the right way.

What do you think of Yelp as a website for enhancing your online presence? Do you think it's a good idea to show your positive and negative ratings to the world?

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