Consumers are on the hunt for clear COVID-19 protocols for any business they plan to visit. Optimizing Yelp listings for social distancing terms is now a must for all enterprise brands. Now, when searchers visit a location on Yelp, Yelp has prominently placed this information at the top of every business page. They’ll see a new informational section positioned between the company name and reviews, under “COVID-19 Updates”.
This area highlights public health precautions and social distancing information such as the availability of hand cleaning stations, temperature screenings, and outdoor dining options.
“Different cities have different protocols,” Yelp’s head of consumer product, Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh, told The Verge. “We have come up with the 10 most widely accepted protocols that consumers expect to see, and businesses have taken on to implement.”
Here are a few tips to help your enterprise brand optimize your Yelp profiles for social distancing terms:
1. Get active on Yelp!
Businesses can add and update this information on their own, but they must claim their listing and log into their Yelp for Business account to do so. Additionally, multi-location brands can have their enterprise listings management partner bulk upload or submit edits for the following via API:
- Special Hours
- Temporary Closures
- Service Offerings
Be aware that consumers can verify the health and safety guidelines for any listing on Yelp once they check into a given business. This means that if you are not submitting the correct information to Yelp, consumers may be inputting COVID-19-related location data on your behalf. Because of this, it is imperative for businesses to closely monitor their business pages to ensure this critical information is accurate and up-to-date.
Yelp also said that it would publish a timestamp each time a business owner updates the COVID-19 section so a customer can see whether information, such as hours of operation or business updates, are current.
2. Use the COVID-19 attributes available to highlight services & safety measures.
There are several safety attributes listed under the COVID-19 section on Yelp. Businesses can check off the appropriate protocols they are enforcing including mandatory face masks, contactless payment, and sanitizing high-contact surfaces between customers.
New fields/attributes were added in late March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow businesses to better highlight safety protocols they have in place and updates in their services to accommodate the need for social distancing. Attributes vary by vertical across 1,200 different Yelp categories.
COVID-19 attributes are displayed prominently, as you can see in the second example:
3. Keep your category up to date.
If your business pivoted and your category no longer fits, update to one that does. This will ensure you come up in relevant searches and have access to the attributes and features that best suit your business.
4. Write a thoughtful, descriptive update with your customers’ needs and questions in mind.
Take a proactive approach and provide the information customers have questions about right now by mirroring the actual language people are using in their searches for local businesses. In our recent keyword trends research, we found that customers are looking for services such as contactless pickup and delivery, order online or buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), curbside, drive-thru ATM, and more.
Write your “COVID-19 Updates” copy in a reassuring, helpful tone with keyword terms relevant to your customers’ health and safety concerns and COVID-19. This area is not appropriate for communicating promotions or any other type of marketing information. It’s important to be sensitive to the current state of affairs and your content should reflect this.
5. Keep on top of wait times, if applicable.
Yelp is also adding new COVID-19-related tools to its Yelp Waitlist feature. Restaurants will be able to print out a QR code that customers can scan to join a restaurant’s waitlist, offering a contact-free way to get in line. In addition, business owners will have the option to manually adjust wait time estimates by adding restrictions such as reduced capacity or staff, and they will be notified by the app when the restaurant is about to reach or exceeds its capacity.
6. Review and update ‘Amenities’ regularly.
Remember that a misalignment between expectation and reality is often the source of a negative review. In addition to keeping your standard amenities up to date, make sure your COVID-specific ones are accurate and current so customers understand your current in-store experience.
7. Monitor Yelp for new reviews, messages, and ‘Ask the Community’ answers.
What if someone provides an incorrect response in the ‘Ask the Community’ section of your Yelp profile? You can submit an answer of your own. These can be upvoted or downvoted (similar to Reddit) by other users.
Your reviews and messages are combined in your enterprise listings management dashboard, so you can receive alerts for new reviews and assign local managers or owners to respond. You can learn how to make your reviews more effective in our local review strategy guide.
8. Keep ‘About the Business’ Evergreen
Keep COVID-19 updates in the COVID section and leave your “About the Business” for information that highlights your key products and services. Write descriptively so it reads naturally. If you do not update this section, it will default to say “Contact the business for more information about recent service changes,” which may prompt more customer inquiries and increase the volume of customer service needed.