Yelp is a fixture in the online review world. Businesses across various industries are building their reputation here, and generating leads. Companies are actively claiming their businesses pages to be proactive in their reputation management.
As part three in our series on how to get started with Yelp, in this article, we’ll cover the best practices involved in taking your reputation management to the next level, and what to expect as you continue to use Yelp. To learn more about the fundamentals on Yelp, check out part one of our series “Your Guide to Understanding Yelp, And How to Make It Work for You.” Moreover, to start building your Yelp strategy, check out part two, “Your Strategy Guide to Yelp, And Business Growth.”
The Changing Nature of Yelp Reviews.
If you’re a business using Yelp already, you undoubtedly are aware of the fluid nature of reviews and ratings. Yelp’s proprietary algorithms can be challenging to anticipate, if not outright mysterious. The unique character of Yelp introduces a bit of a learning curve to anyone new to the platform. Because of this, the ongoing management of reputation will take commitment, consistency, and patience.
For those new to Yelp, reviewers form the backbone of the platform. Without them, Yelp would be little more than a business directory. It’s important to understand, though that not all reviewers are valued equally. Moreover, to make matters even more complicated, the status of a reviewer can change over time.
The reason for this is because Yelp assesses reviewers based on various criteria; how active a reviewer is, the number of reviews they’ve given, and the quality of those written reviews are all characteristics that Yelp will weigh in the balance. It’s essential to know that this evaluation is not a static determination, but a fluid one. The ongoing activity and quality of subsequent reviews by that user can have a retroactive impact on their reviews, and ostensibly, your businesses standing on Yelp.
Better Understanding of the Yelp Algorithms.
The algorithms powering Yelp’s filters are a source of much controversy. The proprietary nature of these algorithms prevents the public from knowing the details that define their criteria. Yelp does, however, disclose that there are multiple “signals” that trigger their automated software in making assessments. As a business operator, you want those positive reviews to “stick” so that those quality remarks written by customers are where everyone can see them. Yelp states that their goal is to look for reviewers that are “people who are intrinsically motivated to share the wide range of rich and detailed experiences they have every day with local businesses.”
Though Yelp does not disclose details about their assessment criteria, there are identified triggers that every Yelp user should know.
- Uncompleted Profile
This particular trigger is fundamental to Yelp’s assessment filters. It serves as an important roadblock for preventing the creation of fraudulent accounts, and demands of legitimate users a level of involvement. This helps promote a userbase that takes Yelp seriously enough to invest time and energy into the platform.
- Lack of Social Integration
Using Facebook and Twitter, in conjunction with Yelp, is another assessment. Yelp users can easily enable these connections by signing up to Yelp through Facebook or Google or enabling linked accounts under settings. Here users can connect Yelp to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Multiple Reviewers from The Same Computer
- Having Review Marks Count
A trend noticed for getting reviews to stick high in the ranking are the marks they’re given. These marks include “Useful, “Funny,” and “Cool.”
A reviewer who receives marks from other reviewers can increase the value of their contributions. Moreover, luckily for business operators, you can help with this. By actively marking positive reviews left on your page, you can help improve the standing of good reviews.
- Not Having Yelp Friends Hurts
At the core of Yelp’s value is the community it builds. Part of what gives this community integrity are the connections and interactions are happening within the platform. Users can actively engage with one another, helping improve the referral experience for both businesses and users. As such, Yelp will evaluate the network users to build around them. Having friends shows that reviewers are proactive and engaged.
The Yelp Controversy
It’s hard to have an in-depth conversation about Yelp without some mention of the controversy surrounding it. Because Yelp does not disclose the details behind its algorithms and how it filters reviews, there’s much speculation as to how exactly they evaluate reviews and controversy as to whether there is misconduct in how they rank them. There have been class action lawsuits brought against Yelp on account extortion, alleging that Yelp rewards those businesses that pay for advertising on their platform. It should be said, however, that none of these cases against Yelp have won.
Though Yelp does not publicize specifics about its algorithms, Yelp did announce that in November 2018 that new changes would take effect. Referred to as its “recommended software” this update has been attributed to millions of Yelp reviews being lost. In the case of certain businesses, up to 75% of their reviews have been lost. Because these recent changes have been so dramatic, this has been referred to as the “ghost” update by some businesses, due to its invisible presence, and having been released in the month of October.
Search Engine Journal, tracked 700 Yelp business profiles to contrast the effects, from before to after.
Here’s what the found:
- 46 companies lost 20 percent or more reviews
- 61 lost 10 to 20 percent
- 80 lost five to 10 percent
These statistics show how businesses are taking a big hit in their online reputation. This problem becomes compounded when you realize that the general public likely has no knowledge of these changes, and will simply take your reviews at face value.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for correcting for these algorithm changes.
Investing in Yelp, Is It Worth It?
Whether you’ve had a longtime presence on Yelp or are new to the platform, you’ll undoubtedly be asking yourself at some point: “is it worth the time and effort.”
Considering that success on Yelp requires consistent involvement, it’s easy to see this as yet another obligation requiring your precious time and energy. Depending on your industry segment and your specific business, lead generation from Yelp can vary drastically. As such, low or non-existent lead generation from Yelp could give the perception that it’s not worth your time. That said, it’s crucial to understand that your time and energy spent is an upfront investment in future potential. To see results takes time, and requires you set a strong foundation as early as possible.
Claim your page if you haven’t already. Be sure to fill out all the information criteria, and post plenty of updated pictures of products, staff, and establishment.
A Good Digital Marketer Can Provide Good Reputation Management
When we talk about what it takes to be successful on Yelp, we’re not just talking about upholding good business practices and providing a good customer experience for good reviews. In many regards, it’s how you handle the misunderstandings and the problem customers that speaks volumes about your business. The ability to resolve problems with customers is critical, but this ability, like any other, is one that takes expertise. Moreover, when considering that problematic reviews require quick and concise action, it should not be overstated that time and focus should be dedicated towards reputation management. That’s why any business serious about maintaining a positive presence online, Yelp or otherwise, should assess the benefits of professional reputation management.
If you have a digital marketing company working for you currently, or perhaps you’re considering using one, ask about their ability to service your reputation management needs.
Here’s a list of essential questions to ask before leaving your reputation in the hands of others:
- What online platforms do they provide reputation management for? Do they cover Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, Google?
- What industries have they had direct experience in servicing and is your market segment one that they have provided reputation management for before?
- What’s the expected response time to negative reviews, and what is the quality of their responses?
Reputation management is crucial to a successful online presence and is an essential part of digital marketing. Unfortunately, dealing with problem customers is not a question of if, but when. Don’t be caught off guard by negative reviews, be prepared, and have a strategy in place for when it does happen.
Yelp has the potential to help your business gain visibility and grow a dedicated customer base. However, this high potential can also work the other way and hurt your business by exploiting any gaps in your customer care. If you employ a proactive professional strategy for managing the customer experience, your audiences can appreciate not only your quality of service but your commitment to customer satisfaction.
Auxilium Technology delivers comprehensive internet marketing solutions designed around your company’s needs. Backed by specialized expertise, Auxilium brings high-quality services and support to all its clients. From web development to managing your online presence, this commitment to client satisfaction covers everything your business needs to thrive on the internet.
Competition is fierce, and your online performance can mean the difference between success and failure for you and your business. That’s why Auxilium Technology gives you peace of mind through award-winning products and services that tackle the various needs of clients across industries. Contact Auxilium today for your free consultation to learn more about the potential that awaits your business.