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The Master Guide to Yelp as a Small Business

Getting reviews online is one great way to boost your business and increase your sales.

However, as you may know, not all reviews are good, and with the anonymity of the internet, a lot of online reviews can be quite negative.

This is especially true with the review website Yelp. Although all businesses are in some way affected by negative Yelp reviews, small businesses can take a real hit.

Fortunately, you don’t have to stress too much if your small business has received a bad Yelp review. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, today we’ll show you just how you can go about dealing with Yelp so that it won’t hurt your reputation too much.

The Master Guide to Yelp as a Small Business

One bad review won’t hurt you

It may feel like your world’s ending when your small business gets a bad review, but fortunately that isn’t usually the case. Online reviews are definitely influential in today’s world, but usually customers behave in two ways.

The first way is for customers who are looking for the lowest price. For them, a bad review might affect their decision-making process.

The other type of customer is someone who generally knows something about the business he’s reviewing, and therefore he’ll be more neutral in his perspective.

If there’s one big negative review surrounded by positive ones, the second type of customer will weigh those two differing opinions and usually side with the positive.

Real reviewer or competitor?

One important thing to look at is whether the review is actually legitimate.

This may sound cynical, but there are many competitors that won’t think twice about leaving a negative review on Yelp about your business. This seems to be especially true when it comes to local competition.

If you have positively identified the review as being from a competitor, you can flag the review and then contact the competitor and Yelp separately. You can request them to take down the review. Yelp may ask for proof that the reviewer is a competitor and take it down consequently.

Your competitor may also take it down voluntarily if you make it clear that the review is illegitimate.  This can also be done by writing a quick note stating in a professional manner that the review came from an overzealous competitor and does not reflect the real experiences of your business’ customers.

If the review is real, however, you’ll need to figure out more details about the situation. If the situation concerns bad service or, for restaurants for example, low quality of food, you may offer them a refund. The situation will determine the appropriate response.

Be professional in your response

One important thing to do is to always respond in a professional manner to negative Yelp reviews.

The first step, then, is to apologize publicly. This can be a full-blown apology if your business really did mess up, or a simple “I’m sorry” for their bad experience at your place of business.

Furthermore, you should also try to flesh out what really happened in an objective way. One unfortunate aspect of negative reviews, even real ones, is that they often feel the need to exaggerate the truth. This is where you should come in and set the record straight in a professional manner. Then, you need to seek a resolution and try to get in contact with the reviewer.

This is where your response from above should come in, whether a refund or a replacement of a product.

Keep the resolution process private, but then make it public

When you get in contact with the reviewer, try to maintain the same level of professional tone. You should apologize again for the bad experiences and try to move the conversation forward toward a resolution, rather than getting stuck in very deep details about who did what. Setting the record straight is one thing, but participating in a 30-minute blame game will just anger both sides.

If the customer accepts your offer, try to see if he or she will be willing to amend or edit their original review. Of course, you shouldn’t push this, but you should emphasize that, if the situation is resolved now, the negative review is still causing some damage to your business.

If all ends well for the customer, they should be find with editing their original review to include an update of how you professionally and successfully resolved the matter. You could even find a way to showcase your previous-negative reviewer on your social media.

By doing these things, you’ll not only resolve the situation and have the negative Yelp review either removed or changed. You’ll also show potential customers how responsive and professional you are as a business.

Taking reviews to the next level

Once you’ve implemented the above mentioned steps for your online reputation you are going to want to use your positive reviews to your advantage. After all, those positive reviews are hard earned and shouldn’t be wasted.

Your goal should always be to turn a simple positive review into a marketing advantage in order to grow your business even further. You can do this by incorporating your average Yelp rating into your website to showcase potential new customers that you’re trustworthy. Yelp offers a website widget for that.

Furthermore, you might want to single out well-written reviews and publish them as testimonials on your website. Go even one step further and try to contact the reviewers to get their permission along with a high quality headshot. This increases the quality and trustworthiness of the testimonial.

Especially if you don’t have a dedicated testimonial page on your business website yet, make sure to use those Yelp reviews to start one as soon as possible. On top of increasing your trustworthiness and conversion rate it can also help with your search engine optimization efforts.

When you personally reach out to the reviewer to ask for permission you can also start building a deeper relationship with each other. You might even be able to turn them into a brand ambassador.

These above mentioned steps will not only help your online reputation but furthermore lead to an increase in customers which will help you to boost your business.

Image: Yelp.com


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Uwe is the founder of InvoiceBerry, an online invoicing software for small businesses and freelancers. He's been running online businesses since his teenage years and is passionate about technology, startups, small business, marketing and travelling. He also writes about these topics for the InvoiceBerry blog https://www.invoiceberry.com

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