Yelp works hard at evolving to help local consumers find businesses – and business owners reach their local target audience, as well. Regularly adding new features and useful updates makes Yelp an indispensable part of many marketers’ local enterprise search strategy as a result. New Yelp Connect features, ads updates, and search enhancements for business listings are among the most recent Yelp updates you need to know.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what’s new and how you can use it to your brand’s advantage.
Before we dive in, let’s quickly touch on what the Yelp opportunity is now. And, why it should be a part of your brand’s local marketing toolkit.
Why Do You Need to Be On Yelp?
Yelp helps people efficiently search and get information, photos, reviews, and content on local businesses. In fact, there were 244 million local business reviews on Yelp as of Dec 31, 2021. Yelp’s most commonly reviewed businesses are home and local services, restaurants, shopping, beauty and fitness, and health. In addition, Yelp states that 24% of its users are in the $64,000-$99,000 household income range, and 55% make $100,000 and more.
A Brief History of Yelp
Since Yelp began in 2004, it has sought to help local consumers make the best possible decisions about their product and service needs. One of its first advancements in 2008 was the launch of the Yelp app. This made the platform easily accessible to all Yelp users with a mobile phone for consumers to gather information and leave reviews quickly and for businesses to manage their profiles from anywhere.
Yelp went public in March 2012 and shortly after acquired SeatMe, which evolved into Yelp Reservations, making it easier for businesses to manage their seating. In 2017, Yelp entered a long-term partnership with GrubHub making it easier for consumers to order from home. But their advancements didn’t just include the restaurant industry.
In 2019, they updated their app capabilities by launching their new personalized app so consumers could customize their app based on their preferences. Yelp gave consumers the ability to tailor their Yelp experiences. And, they personalized preferences for the user’s experience, including dietary choices, interests, lifestyle, and accessibility. Each user would then be more likely to see businesses they were interested in learning more about on the app.
With this evolution, it became necessary for businesses to optimize their listing to showcase what’s unique about their brand. In addition, it’s essential for brands to tailor their page to their targeted audiences on Yelp. So now, let’s dive into all the new features Yelp has added to its platform and some ways you can optimize them for your business.
What’s New At Yelp
Yelp has a series of impactful updates to help businesses better engage with their local communities. So let’s give a quick rundown of what’s new at Yelp for businesses.
New Yelp Connect Features
Yelp Connect was launched in 2019 to help restaurants share information and updates. Through the app, consumers could also get on the Yelp Waitlist by booking a table through Yelp Reservations. Yelp updated the Yelp Connect dashboard and audience model in the summer of 2021.
With this most recent update, Yelp has added tailored post templates and a more intuitive mobile customer experience for creators. In addition, they’ve expanded usage for all businesses to optimize their business pages.
Yelp Ads Updates
Yelp Ads have seen their own advancements. There are new capabilities to ad optimization on Yelp, including keyword boosting, which helps businesses select keywords that would boost their business’s visibility while optimizing ad budget.
Custom location targeting (CLT) is another addition. With this update, Yelp will make sure ads appear in a specific geographical area in local service categories where your business is relevant. This helps your business appear in all areas you service, not just where you are physically located. It also provides efficient analytics such as ratings, category, region, and listing age to inform your ad strategy.
Yelp for Business Tools
Yelp aims to help businesses with new tools. One addition is events which include on-demand webinars for marketers to learn more about Yelp. You can attend these online events and view these on-demand recordings focused on different strategies to optimize your business.
Yelp also produces a Trust & Safety Report, a cumulative review of how Yelp evaluates businesses and reviews to ensure they are within guidelines and standards. This helps maintain Yelp as a trustworthy site since they ensure that information and reviews accurately display a business’s information and customer experiences.
This not only helps protect businesses but better informs customers of each business. One way they did this was to use their software to go through reviews and, in 2021, ended up removing over 15,500 reviews for violating their COVID-19 content guidelines.
Another important tool is Yelp’s biweekly Business Blog newsletter. This newsletter includes site updates, insight into your businesses’ inboxes, event notifications, recommendations, and educational content to manage your yelp profile better.
Other Recent Yelp Updates for Brands To Know
Search Enhancements for Service Business Listings
Yelp spent time focusing on enhancing features for each service category. Two ways they’ve accomplished this are through Request-A-Quote and Nearby Jobs. Nearby Jobs help consumers get quality leads to hire professionals.
Request-A-Quote allows consumers to message businesses to ask about pricing, availability, or any information they may need to know. Through Request-A-Quote, consumers can easily search for a business, quickly fill out information for the exact project they need to be completed, and receive competitive quotes.
These capabilities are available in over 60 business categories with an easy questionnaire to provide all the information to complete a requested service. Once a consumer selects the service, they can easily book it and communicate with the business through the app. This makes it essential for companies to optimize their page with the specifics and availability of their services.
Nearby Jobs shows the services available in the searcher’s local area to pick the best business for the job. This capability will also notify a business if there’s a request for a service they provide. These new capabilities allow companies to select the services they would like to provide and price more competitively to other competing businesses. Whether consumers want to book a service or order food, they can now seamlessly do that through Yelp.
Yelp Guest Manager
In September 2021, Yelp created Guest Manager, which helped with the new standard of both online orders and in-person dining for restaurants. The Yelp Guest Manager features include a centralized platform for both ordering options, guest loyalty integrations, and digital ordering.
In addition, for restaurants, Yelp added a Virtual Restaurants feature. Customers can identify restaurants with options that offer takeout and delivery. Some of the other key features are reservation and waitlist, table management, POS features, takeout, and kiosk.
Guest Manager also helps businesses build their brands. One primary way it’s helped companies is by managing different delivery methods. It also allows the restaurant owner to communicate directly with consumers to provide updates and information as well as curbside SMS. Yelp also now integrates with Olo, which helps with digital ordering and delivery. In addition, Yelp added seven new languages making it easier for people to communicate with restaurants.
Updated Messaging Response Times
There are significant updates to messaging response times. Yelp states:
“Your messaging response time is calculated as the median time you’ve taken to respond to messages in the past 30 days. But sometimes you may receive messages at odd hours of the night, which can drag down your response time. To help alleviate the stress around responding to late-night messages or quote requests, we’ve introduced ‘After Hours.”
The “After Hours” time begins at 6 p.m. every day and ends at 8 a.m. the next day. This timeframe doesn’t impact your response time. Therefore, you will not be penalized if you don’t respond until the morning. Although responding in a timely manner is still crucial.
LGBTQ-Owned & Asian-Owned Attributes
Now on Yelp, brands can add if the business is LGBTQ-Owned or Asian-Owned. This is a free attribute to let consumers know that when they visit a business location, they are supporting local businesses that are LGBTQ+ or Asian-owned businesses. A company can add either of these attributes by logging into their account, going to the Amenities section, clicking Edit or Add, and then selecting the attribute and saving chances.
Making the Most of Your Brand’s Yelp Presence
Add High-Quality Photos
High-quality photos of your business and its products or services are vital for your business on Yelp. They are a quick glimpse for consumers to see what they can expect when visiting your location. Businesses should have original, up-to-date pictures of the exterior and interior, images of key features, and your team in addition to the products or services you offer.
These images can help with engagement and draw customers to your brand. It’s another way to build trust because customers know what to expect when visiting your location.
Yelp suggests that you avoid using stock images or images of your logo to promote your business. Original images bring the authenticity you need to attract people to your business.
They also note that these images don’t necessarily need to be professionally shot; a simple picture on your phone can often do the trick. Although, Yelp recommends your pictures are clear and framed well with good lighting. It’s important to note that the caption to a photo can also help better describe your products, services, or location.
Ensure NAP Info is Accurate for All Listings
One simple way to improve your brand’s Yelp presence is by having accurate information throughout Yelp and additional listings. Make sure the name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as website and hours, are correct on all listings. Also, make sure to keep them up-to-date as information changes.
But, don’t just stop at basic information. It’s essential to fill out all information on Yelp with as much local detail as possible. The more information, the better, as this helps consumers and helps you reach more people in your community. Add your availability and details about your products or services and anything consumers may need to know about your business.
Additionally, it’s important to include keywords, but make sure to include them in a natural flow throughout your content and not overuse keywords. Focus on keywords that would be relevant to consumers’ searches, such as specific keywords and phrases relevant to your industry. It’s also important to only select categories relevant to your industry, as over including categories that your business doesn’t support can damage your ratings.
Monitor & Respond To All Yelp Reviews
Like other business listings, such as your Google Business Profile reviews, it’s crucial to prioritize monitoring and responding to Yelp reviews. Yelp says it’s essential to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Create a review strategy for how you respond and how often you monitor reviews.
It’s crucial to respond promptly and remain professional. In addition, it’s important to have a standard operating procedure for whoever will be monitoring reviews on Yelp. On Yelp, there are two ways to respond to reviews: you can direct message the consumer or create a public comment.
Direct messages will privately respond to the customer, so you can have a dialogue, get more information about their experience, and resolve a situation. Public responses appear under the initial review and are a great way to highlight an experience or respond to a situation the customer might have had. You can also leverage positive reviews in your social media strategy.
Explore Features for Brands
Yelp noted some important statistics:
- 95 million unique visitors visit Yelp each month
- 85% visit Yelp without a specific business in mind and
- 97% of visitors to Yelp make a purchase
With this in mind, there are some key features on Yelp to explore that can help optimize your brand’s presence. As we discussed earlier, high-quality pictures are important, and you can choose which photos best promote your business. Carefully selecting which to highlight can help you put your best foot forward on Yelp. You can also choose from over 30 unique traits in the Business Highlights section to showcase what’s unique about your business.
Additionally, you can remove competitors’ ads from your business page, so potential customers are only focusing on your business.
When it comes to getting a consumer to make a decision, the Call to Action is vital. With Yelp, you can link your website, showcase a coupon, prompt them to order, or encourage consumers to call your business.
You can also feature services by highlighting and requesting a quote on your business. Finally, it’s crucial to pay attention to analytics as they track key data such as visits and online conversions, and these analytics can help inform your Yelp strategy.
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