When you’re looking for a new Italian restaurant to check out in your town, or when you’re in a new city, you probably go to Yelp. Founded in San Francisco in 2004, Yelp has become the dominant site/guide for finding local businesses. And, unlike the Yellow Pages of yore, Yelp doesn’t simply provide the static what, where, hours, and such information; it also includes reviews.
And that’s where many practices find Yelp to be, how shall we say, less than beloved?
Here’s some information about Yelp to take a little of the mystery out of the site. Plus we’ll give you a few tips on how to handle your practice’s listing and respond to reviews.
Metaphorically, Yelp is kind of like a big digital fence between your yard and your neighbor’s. The backyard fence was where this kind of information used to be shared. If you found a good new restaurant, you might share that information when swapping niceties across the fence with your neighbor. Or, you’d share that kind of thing with co-workers around the proverbial water cooler. Now, of course, everything is shared, probably overshared, across the digital universe.
Yelp allows you to share your experience at a local business with anyone else checking out the business listing. As of this past fall, Yelp said it had 34 million unique average monthly visitors to its mobile app, and 75 million visitors to its mobile website. Throw in 69 million more checking out Yelp on their desktop. That’s a lot of eyes potentially reading what you thought of the business.
This is the breakout of those reviews by business category:
- 21% — Shopping
- 17% — Restaurants
- 14% — Home and Local Services
- 10% — Beauty and Fitness
- 9% — Arts, Entertainment, and Events
- 7% — Health
- 7% — Other
- 6% — Auto
- 5% — Nightlife
- 4% — Travel and Hotel
Our Advice Media practices could actually fall into a couple of these categories, but with either Beauty and Fitness or Health the percentage of reviews on Yelp is sizable.
Not all negatives
We hear grumblings that all Yelp reviews are negative, and that Yelp is the place for trolls of the local business world. But the statistics don’t support that. This is the breakdown of how many stars the Yelp ratings average:
- 5 Stars = 49%
- 4 Stars = 19%
- 3 Stars = 9%
- 2 Stars = 7%
- 1 Star = 16%
Yelp users fairly evenly split across the age groups, but they skew upward in education and income. Of Yelp users, almost 61% are college educated, and almost half make over $100,000. Those demographics align well with medical practices.
How does Yelp prioritize reviews?
When you look at reviews on Yelp, you notice that the heading is titled “Recommended Reviews” for ABC Dentistry or whatever. So, why are these results given priority over others? Why isn’t the most recent review on top and so on?
Yelp uses what it calls “recommendation software” when considering which reviews should rise to the top. This is what the Yelp website says about how that software makes its decisions:
“The software looks at dozens of different signals, including various measures of quality, reliability, and activity on Yelp. Most of all, however, it’s looking for people who are intrinsically motivated to share the wide range of rich and detailed experiences they have every day with local businesses.”
The software promotes active reviews from the most active reviewers, as it believes these people offer more value to other potential consumers.
How you can help with Yelp
First off, look at the rating stats above. Over two thirds of reviews are positive, 68%, so Yelp isn’t local business troll heaven. Plus, if you simply respond to your reviews actively, the company says that over time you will see a .4-star improvement in your rating.
A couple things to do:
- Be sure to log into your Yelp profile and respond to reviews. Show that your practice is paying attention and you appreciate the feedback.
- Monitor your reviews regularly, as any bad review can possibly be turned around with some interaction. And then you can encourage that reviewer to update his or her review to acknowledge your attentiveness.
- Install the Yelp review widget or a direct link to the Yelp site on your practice website.
- Share positive reviews from within the Yelp site through the share feature on the left side of the review.
- Don’t send out direct links to your business profile on Yelp, as Yelp is able to track referring URLs. Those reviews will not be “recommended,” so no one will see them.
Now you know about Yelp. At Advice Media, we can make sure your profile on Yelp and the other reviews sites is managed by our Local Power tool to ensure your contact information is consistent across the web. We can also make your profile as robust as possible with photos and more detailed information, or we can tell you how to do that on your own. Simply ask your Advice Media representative any questions you have about Yelp.