If you’ve logged onto Yelp within the last week or so, you’ve probably noticed some significant formatting changes. Most strikingly, photographs taken by users now have pride of place beneath the page header, along with snippets from reviews provided by readers.
The dreaded star system is still very much in evidence, but these user photographs are so big that they seem to dwarf everything else that’s on the page, and the little excerpts of reviews make scrolling down for a long read almost unnecessary.
If your company is on Yelp, you’re wise to respond to these changes. After all, research from Cisco suggests that an online rating is the most influential source of information consumers consult before making a major purchase. In other words, Yelp has power. And, if Yelp is moving to a visual format, you’ll need to respond and make your business sight-friendly and worthy of a positive consumer review. Here’s how to do it.
#1. Reconsider Your Cell Phone Policy
Photos play a dominant role in the redesign simply because Yelp’s programmers found that people spend much more time on listings that include photos. Those that don’t have snaps get ignored, while those that do merit up to 2.5 times more attention from viewers, Yelp says.
Few modern shoppers and diners carry heavy photography equipment with them on a regular basis. Instead, most people use their cell phones to snap shots for social media sites. Now, it’s true that many people have terrible cell phone manners, and they bother patrons with their endless yammering. But, if you’ve banned all cell phone use from your place of business, you’ve also effectively placed your company in Yelp purgatory, as you’ll have no photos on your page.
Consider amending your policy to discuss noise, rather than homing in on all cell phone usage. You might also consider creating a dedicated lounge for cell phone calls, so users can be moved away from other patrons if they’re desperate to talk on their phones. That way, you’ll allow subtle photography without ruining the experience for your other customers.
#2. Focus on Presentation
Few people will take photos of things they don’t find visually appealing. A blob of greasy food inside a cardboard box just isn’t as snap-worthy as a lovely spray of fries on a shining plate with a bit of garnish on the side. While overhauling your product line isn’t a necessity, look for ways in which you can make your product a little more pleasing to the eye.
If your product just can’t be made more attractive, focus on your building. Some consumers take snaps of:
- The front door
- The parking lot
- Light switches
- Notices by the cash register
Look for novel little visual cues that seem interesting enough to be photographed. Adding a fish bowl, a clever cartoon, a box of flowers or a spray of flags could all merit a photograph, and that might make your business jump just a bit.
#3. Kick Up Quality
All of the beautiful photography in the world won’t help your business if your product isn’t worth a lengthy mention. This is particularly important now, as the redesign places a few choice snippets from reviews near the top of your page. If the same phrase is mentioned multiple times, the snippet appears. Obviously, you’d like that repetition to deal with something wonderful, like a special product you sell or the outstanding value you provide. Make sure your product is up to the challenge.
#4. Be Nice, Be Nice, Be Nice
Snippets could also mention your fabulous customer service skills (or lack thereof). Remember that each and every person who comes into your facility could be a reviewer, and treat that person with a significant amount of reverence. Be yourself, of course, but make sure that you’re always putting the needs of the customer first, and providing the best experience that you possibly can.
#5. Seek and Destroy Fake Reviews
If you’ve been lax on the Yelp front up to this point, your page might be filled with fraudulent reviews and yucky photos from your enemies (or your competitors). Now’s the time to seek out those reviews and do your best to remove them. If the content truly violates Yelp’s Terms of Service, you can contact Yelp directly and ask for the immediate removal of those bits. But sometimes, you’ll need to work with a reputation management company in order to really handle a horrific Yelp problem.
How have your Yelp pages changed, since this review came out? Overall, do you think the redesign has helped or hurt your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Images: ”LISBON, PORTUGAL – FEBRUARY 8, 2014: Photo of Yelp homepage on a monitor screen through a magnifying glass. / Shutterstock.com“
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