Your Business & Yelp In 2010

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I want to get you thinking the way I am on this one, so bear with me for a moment. I want you to imagine yourself moving into a brand new area that you are completely unfamiliar with. You have brand new neighbors, and there is not a familiar face anywhere. You don’t know if your new neighbors have kids for your kids to play with, or if you would even want them to. So the process begins, you meet your neighbors, you gain trust and eventually are part of the neighborhood BBQs. As time goes on, and you are getting to know everybody even more, they begin sharing information with you, like what the best schools are, who to call for takeout, what doctors are nearby etc. There is a process of trust that grows within the community, and that community sticks together and helps each other out.

In Comes Yelp

Businesses need to look at Yelp in more of a neighborhood sense, as explained above. Stop trying to think how you can game the system with only 5 star reviews in mind. Businesses need to understand that there is a strong community of people that run it, police it, and spend all day on it – looking for, or giving recommendations. If you are a good neighbor, your business can benefit from it. If you are a bad neighbor that creeps everybody out, then its not going to work so well for you, and the neighborhood will spit you out.

Do Not Fear The Reviews

It amazes me the number of businesses that are afraid to get listed on Yelp. My personal opinion, if businesses are afraid to get on Yelp, then there might be some internal house cleaning that needs to be done, and problems fixed. If your business is broken, and this is why you are worried about getting on sites like Yelp, then FIX THE PROBLEMS NOW. Even if you do get some negative feedback, take it as a learning tool, grow from it, and do everything you can to overcome and grow as a business. Yelp is only going to continue to grow, and with app phones flooding the market now, the mobile use in 2010 for local marketing is going to big the biggest ever. In my opinion, this is going to be the biggest opportunities for businesses marketing online. These phones are not going away, these apps are not going away, so your business needs to do better starting now.

Be A Man, Stake Your Claim

If you do not go in andcreate your business listing on Yelp, someone else will (and its just a matter of time before the reviews start pouring in). These are free tools that Yelp is willingly offering you! Go take advantage of them! When you rely on someone else you add your information, you are risking things like:

  • wrong phone number
  • wrong business address
  • wrong website address
  • wrong product information
  • general company info wrong
  • wrong hours
  • wrong menu items
  • which photos show up first
  • a competitor going in and listing you wrong (on purpose)

This Matters For Four Reasons Because:

  1. Users will quickly click off your listing if the phone number does not work.
  2. Users will quickly move on to the next business if they are looking for a website, and yours is not listed.
  3. Trust will be lost with a half done/wrong business listing.
  4. You can create a reputation nightmare by not staying on top of things.


YelpThe main point I want to make with this post is 2010 is going to be the year of mobile/local marketing & apps, as well as the opportunities that are going to be generated from them.Yelp has a mobile appnow for iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Droid. I am sure as more app phones come into the market, Yelp will be developing for them as well. Yelp has become my new American Express – “Can’t leave home without it” I really can’t go anywhere without consulting Yelp first. It is for more then just food too, you can get reviews and information on pretty much any kind of business possible. Funny, my Mother and Father in Law told us the kept tabs on us during a recent trip by checking out my Yelp reviews, and could tell we had a blast! They personally do not use Yelp, but they always tell me: “See what Yelp says” and I do a quick consult before we all head out somewhere. Its truly an awesome tool to be able to carry in my pocket, and “mark my words” this is the future of local marketing.

I asked Gabi, the Phoenix ambassador for Yelp to share her thoughts of how business owners can do better with Yelp in 2010, as well as a couple others – Will Scott & Chris Smith. Here are their responses:


Gabi on Yelp

Per your request, below are a few quick thoughts on how businesses can utilize Yelp to their advantage in the new year:

  1. 1. Utilize the free tools that are available – Claim your business!
  2. Respond to all yelp reviews (once you’ve claimed your business) to thank that yelper for their feedback.
  3. Tell about the business, business owner, specialties, etc… and announce special offers, events, etc…
  4. Look at Yelp as a helpful resource – we’re not the enemy; Yelp is a useful tool to help you improve your business all of the time!
  5. Do not ask random friends or customers to write reviews on Yelp – this can come off as spam; let the reviews happen authentically
  6. Provide fantastic customer service always and you’ll likely reap the rewards in the reviews that are written!

Will Scott:

Will Scott

  1. Be proactive.
  2. Just like any review site you need to get your fans out early and often. The rules say you can’t pay people or otherwise incentivize but you can certainly ask.
  3. Consider advertising.
  4. One of our clients started advertising in Yelp and increased his leads from yelp by 5X almost instantly. Moreover, you get to pick your favorite review to pin at the top of your list.
  5. And, best of all you can show up on your competitors’ listings. Mwahahaha.

Chris Silver Smith:

I see two main areas where businesses may do better with Yelp.

  1. Businesses really need to step up their customer-service game. A world of pain can be avoided merely by instituting highly excellent customer service practices. Customer service policies and practices need to be revisited frequently to insure you make a good impression.
  2. In 2010 businesses should become less shy about asking pleased customers to review them. I encounter many proprietors who are hesitant to ask customers to rate them online, but I think the fear is unwarranted. Dale Carnegie, in his classic book, “How To Win Friends & Influence People”, even recommends that you ask others to do you favors as a strategy for getting people to like you (among other tactics). In that vein, I suggest that when a customer particularly gushes, hand them a coupon for a discount for their next visit, and tell them you’d really appreciate being rated in Yelp. Do not pay for ratings nor offer discounts in trade for a rating, but merely ask in a modest way. By specifically targeting pleased customers, giving an unconditional discount, and personally asking them to do you a favor, you make them feel important and inclined to give you a very positive review.

Having a strategy to encourage and build positive reviews can help to insulate a business from occasional negative reviews and can pump up rankings and conversions.

I appreciate Gabi, Will & Chris taking the time to share their thoughts on how businesses can do better with Yelp in 2010. To sum it all up? Businesses need to not be afraid of where mobile/local marketing is headed. Also, they need to not be afraid of UGC type sites like Yelp. Your business will grow and gain customers in 2010 if you embrace Yelp, run a good clean business and play by the rules!

Matt Siltala, owner of Dream Systems Media shares his love and passion for SEO and all things social on his Internet marketing blog.  You can follow Matt on Twitter here –

Mat Siltala
Matt Siltala, owner of Avalaunch Media, shares his love and passion for SEO and all things social on his Internet marketing blog.
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  • Gerald Weber

    Just added myself to Yelp. Thanks for the tip. 😉

    • Matt Siltala

      No Prob Gerald! I have heard stories from business owners of amazing surges in traffic because of a Yelp listing/review. It’s becoming a big deal!

  • Antonio

    umm…why just Yelp?

    There are many great user generated directories with content specific to their niche. Yelp is just one of the many. We run FriendsEAT and we have about 1/20th the traffic but are specific to the restaurant industry. There are directories for doctors (zocdoc/patientplus), plumbers/handyman (angieslist), and everything else (google maps).

    The article should be titled…”Why SMB shouldn’t be afraid of a web presence”.

    • Matt Siltala

      Yelp is by far the biggest, brings real traffic and ranks well. It is very trusted and has a huge following and community. Yes, there are several different options, CitySearch, UrbanSpoon etc. That was not my point. My point was to talk about Yelp in this post, and the apps that power it and make it the amazing service it is.

  • Debra

    Good insights on Yelp Matt, we can tell you spend a lot of time there. And great idea to ask a Yelp rep to add to the conversation.

    • Matt Siltala

      Thanks Debra! Just trying to bring some value into the post!!!

  • Gene Pulliam

    Businesses generaly dont have a choice about embracing Yelp. Yelp will embrace them whether they like it or not. The relevant questions are how a business should be embraced by Yelp and whether a business should advertise on Yelp.

    It has been widely reported that Yelp sales people resort to extortion to get ad sales. It hasnt been as widely reported that the most prolific reviewers are routinely bribed (monthly) with free food and alcohol, nor has it been reported that the review rankings can be manipulated, that bad (or good) reviews can be made to go away) or that the Daily Review is hand picked by the Ambassador.

    In smaller markets like Phoenix, most businesses have only a dozen or so reviews. Barely a handful of restaurants have more than 100 reviews. So the inherent value of the reviews is very small-whats valuable or dangerous as the case may be is the weight of the non-review writing users-as many as 25 million a month.

    The smart thing (but expensive) for a business to do is to sponsor one of these bribery events. Once a business does that, they are teflon. Another smart thing is to vigorously monitor your reviews and to flag any content that is unfair. For example, reviews must be based primarily on personal experience and must not be lewd. Businesses can cooperate with other businesses in policing their reviews.

    Finally, MANY business owners participate as review writers without disclosing that fact that they are business owners. A user account allows a business owner to flag improper reviews for their own business and for others.

    Does Yelp advertising actually pay off? I dont know. CPM seems very high. On the other hand, if you treat it like “glass insurance” ie a low cost/high risk shakedown by extortionists, then its probably money well spent. Several restaurants have been seriously hurt by fewer than a dozen unjustified bad reviews. You dont want that to be you.

  • Mary Bowling

    Great insights, Matt! Reviews are what people want to see and are also something that help you rank in Google Maps. I really appreciate how you address the fact that if you get bad reviews, you need to fix your business.

  • JP

    The issue that I’ve had with Yelp, is that it continues to “filter” my good reviews! All of our reviews have been good, except one so/so and one negative. The Yelp so called Computer Algorithm filter, chose to remove the one bad review and about 11 of our good reviews! Leaving us with only 3 reviews, in which two are positive and one is negative.

    The overall picture that so little reviews provide to the Yelp users is not accurate by any means! How is the computer to deicide whether a review is real or fake! I have many clients that wrote reviews about us on Yelp get very disappointed with that system because their reviews are being taken down for no reason! Just because the Yelp filter decided that they are not real. So now they believe that Yelp is not a reliable source and they are upset that they took the time to write reviews about businesses that they like in the area and then the filter simply takes them down without any questions asked or investigations carried out.

    I say either keep all the reviews good and bad and utilize a better way to find out whether the reviewer is real or not. Focus on the identity of the reviewers more rather than selecting through a filter who’s reviews stay up and who’s don’t. I had a lot of discussions with a sales person from Yelp about this issue and at this point I’ve come to conclude that Yelp is using this so called Computer Filter as a mean to get more people to advertise with them… if you advertise you’ll get more positive reviews up if not they’ll be taken down.

    Thank you,


  • James

    I think the big growth will come in medical services like doctors and dentist ratings. In my opinion MyDocHub is the best poised for success in the healthcare vertical.

  • SEO Services Tampa

    Thanks for great tips. Just added in Yelp.

  • Tom Arstingstall

    Thanks for your insight Matt. Recently found Yelp, didn’t think it was important before now. Contractors, and other small businesses, need to focus on the local marketing of there business. Yelp is making it easier for the small business owner.

    Keep up the good work!

  • BG


    I was wondering why I can’t find the listing for your business “Dream Systems Media” on Yelp. Have you not yet staked your claim – or does Yelp just not find your business when I search by your business name in either of your locations?

  • Gwen

    While I found your article insightful and motivating, I also found it a little unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that Yelp is a notoriously shady operation that has been accused multiple times of extortion by small businesses claiming that they have been contacted by representatives of Yelp who promised that if the business paid for advertising, the negative comments could be conveniently hidden “below the fold.”

    I have worked for one such small business and seen ALL positive comments removed from the reviews and yet the same, scathing negative reviews remained week after week, seemingly blown out of proportion and way over the top. This business was also approached by a Yelp representative to purchase ad space and they decided to decline. The negative comments remained and the positive comments were conveniently “filtered out.”

    You don’t have to take my word for it. Just google “Why aren’t positive comments showing up on yelp” and the story is all there in the results.

    It is sad that a business concept that could be so useful and so positive is tainted by the organization’s corrupt policies.

  • mandy

    Interesting. I was actually just thinking of listing my new business on Yelp. My only question was what to do for location. I'm a virtual business so I don't have a street address to use for my posts. I'd also love to be able to post in multiple cities but I don't know how feasible that would be. I'd love feedback. Thanks!

  • mandy

    Interesting. I was actually just thinking of listing my new business on Yelp. My only question was what to do for location. I'm a virtual business so I don't have a street address to use for my posts. I'd also love to be able to post in multiple cities but I don't know how feasible that would be. I'd love feedback. Thanks!