The first step in recovery is to admit there's a problem. The first rule to getting good Yelp reviews is to understand Yelp's agenda.In the world according to Yelp there's a big difference between actively pursuing reviews and simply creating awareness of your business' Yelp profile. Why you would want someone to know that you have a Yelp profile if not to go over and leave a review eludes me, but I guess that's the point. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but that's what life in the Yelp distortion field looks like.In today's episode, I give Yelp the Sherpa treatment and do a little reading between the lines to help you understand Yelp's agenda so you can start collecting reviews that stick on the platform.Links mentioned in this episode: The Complete Guide to Yelp Reviews: Power to the People! Yelp Reviews | 10 Tips On How To Get More Yelp Reviews
Online Marketing for Lawyers - Getting Positive Reviews on Yelp Yelp Support Center ~ Don't Ask for Reviews Multimedia used in this episode: The O'Jays - For The Love of Money (Audio) Yelp in Your Words: How Yelp Deals Work for My Salon
Audio Transcript: The "Truth" About Getting Good Yelp Reviews
We're talking Yelp this week. We're going to finish up that conversation we began last week, but before I jump off and to try and tell you what to do about Yelp, it's very important, to me at least, that you understand what Yelp is about. If you don't understand Yelp, you're not going to get it, you'll never be able to actually get the value out of that platform, and there is value in that platform. There's also a lot of gnashing of the teeth associated, but all that gnashing of the teeth is because folks are kind of going against what Yelp wants.
Photo by Flickr user wynk
Now, I'm not saying what Yelp wants is a good thing because it's all about Yelp, but if you're going to play over there at least understand all the rules. That's all I'm saying. So, here's what we're going to do. Step one, I'm going to explain a little something, something to you about Yelp, at least the way Sherpa sees it. You may agree, you may not agree. The folks over at Yelp, I gives less than a ding dang if they agree. This is just how I see it. So, should you need to take out that big, gigantic grain of salt, this would be a good time to go get it. I will wait, but I'm not going to wait too long because I need to get to it. I've only got 15 minutes.Here's the deal. The reason that you need to understand Yelp, the reason why you need that paradigm shift is because unless you just feel like being pissed off every time you have to deal with it, you need to understand what's going on over there because if you look at Yelp the same way you look at any other review sites, all you're going to do is hurt yourself, seriously. So, let's get down to that first. Let's explain it.Yelp is all about Yelp. We talked last week about, you know that show me the money thing I talked to you about? Okay, Yelp is all about the reviewer. You need to remember that. You need to start with that. It's an online internet site. It's an internet site just like any other internet site and the life blood of all these internet sites is the traffic coming to it, and not the one off traffic, the people who come and come back, and come back again, the people who have made a habit out of Yelp. That's who Yelp wants. Now you hold onto that little nugget and then let's go take a look at why it is that people who go to Yelp one time and leave a review tend to disappear off into the ether, get shoved behind the curtain, don't look at that man over there. Why do you suppose that is?Yelp isn't interested in them because they don't help their bottom line. Yelp is interested in Yelpers, folks that have the app on their phone, folks that actually leave one or two reviews all over town.
Why? It's about the monetization, the cha-ching.Yelp ads, Yelp deals, Yelp coupons, Yelp investors, all of that cheddar hinges on one thing; eyeballs on the site, coming back over, and over, and over again. And if you understand that, then everything else that you need to do with Yelp makes a little bit of sense. Is it right? Who cares. It's their game. They didn't invent the review game. They just created their corner of it, and if you're going to play over there, as you have to, you need to understand how that platform works. So, what's important to it?Don't gnash your teeth, don't sit there and scream about how right and wrong they are. That's not going to fix a whole lot. In the words of Gunny Highway, "Adapt, overcome, and improvise." It's Clint Eastwood, come on now.
There's No Shortage of Advice on Getting Good Yelp Reviews
I don't know if you've done any looking online at all the different articles that are out there about how to get Yelp reviews, there are quite a few of them. Trust me, I know, because I looked. And one of the things I noticed is that they fall into two different categories.Category one is real simple. Do what Yelp tells you to do. And then Category two, do what Yelp tells you to do and then do a few things that Yelp tells you not to do. The funny thing about that second category, every now and then they actually tell you, "Oh, by the way, Yelp doesn't want you to do it." Not always, just some of the time, which if you don't realize how Yelp wants you to execute and do things online, you could be running afoul of Yelp and not even know it.I don't know. It's your choice. You do whichever one you want to do. Go in the direction that makes sense for your business. I'm not going to try and dissuade you one direction or the other. What I am going to try and do is get you to exercise a little C.D.S., Common Damn Sense. Yelp has an agenda, straight up, no holds barred, you got to be really, really dense not to get that, and any piece of advice that you get that doesn't match up with that agenda, well, it's probably just a waste of your time.Quoting an article from Yelp's official blog, "Don't Ask for Reviews", quote, "The power of word of mouth is that folks generally trust recommendations when they occur as part of an organic process. There's an important distinction between, hey, write a review about me on Yelp, bad, and hey, check us out on Yelp, good." The article further goes on to say, "To an established Yelp community member, a reminder of your Yelp presence can act like a dog whistle prompting them to share their feedback about your business with fellow Yelpers", unquote.Did I miss the part where they talked about your customer who creates a Yelp profile just so they can leave you a single Yelp review and never goes on Yelp again? No, I don't think I did. You know why? Because that's not who they're talking about. They don't care about that person. They're not into one hit wonders. They're interested in established members of the Yelp community.To further illustrate my point, let's take a look at the things that Yelp actually suggests on this page so that you can let people know you're on Yelp without being, quote unquote, overly solicitous.
- Stick a Find Us on Yelp image on your website or print it out for your front counter or window.
- Include a link to your Yelp business listing and your email signature with the words, "Check us out on Yelp", and
- Embed a badge on your website.
Yelp wants Yelpers, active members of the community. So, when you put that sign in the window, when you put that notification in the, you know, in the signature of your email, when you attach it to whatever you send out that people find out about. You're basically trying to energize a Yelper however they come across you. I guess it's kind of like catnip for a cat. About the only thing I could think of for non Yelpers this would do is generate a little curiosity so that they could wander over to Yelp and possibly become Yelpers at some point in the future themselves. But, the one hit wonder, no, that's not doing a whole lot of good for you.As a matter of fact, if you take a look back at all the different suggestions on how to get a review unfiltered, it's all about taking that person and making them into a Yelper or at least appear to be a Yelper, and that's pretty much it. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at some of the best suggestions out there for getting Yelp reviews that are in line with what Yelp actually wants. In other words, let's go hunting for Yelpers.Hey, you remember when I told you that I looked at a lot of content this last week, a lot of articles on how to get Yelp reviews? Oh, yes I did. And trust me, they're not all the same quality, some good, some bad, some really flat out not worth your time, a lot of link bait in there with folks writing just as little as they could to get an article out. I'm going to rely on three content creators for this section, Megan Morris from the Word Stream blog, Dylan Wilson from Social Media Top Team, we referenced him last week, and Ken Mataiko [SP] from Legal P.P.C., an internet company that caters to the legal profession.I'm going to be cherry picking from all three of them for this section. So, just to make sure you don't feel short changed, I'm going to slap a link in the show notes to their individual pieces of content so then if you want the full Paul Harvey, the uncut, you can go over there and get that to your heart's content. I know, I'm too nice to you. Okay, so let's begin this process. Let's go down through the steps that you need to do to get more Yelp reviews.The very first thing you need to do is have a place for Yelpers to go, so fill out your Yelp profile, the business one, not the personal one, the business one. Fill out your business page, photos, descriptions, menus, phone numbers, hours of operation, everything that they ask for that you have the ability to stick in there, stick it in there. Remember who the target audience is, Yelpers, they know their way around the platform and they know the difference between someone who's vested and someone who's not. So, you want to make sure they understand that you're vested and you get your narrative out there. Okay? So, that should be a common sense one, but I had to throw it out there.Now that's going to lead to the next item, not the next item in importance or anything like that, it's just going to naturally lead that way, and that's Yelp deals. Post a Yelp deal on your profile. You have to make a decision whether or not that fits inside your budget, but the reason I say it's the natural next thing is because right after you finish filling out that profile, you're going to get a call from Yelp, I mean a straight up call from Yelp. And it's not going to be some coach looking to do you right.It's going to be some salesmen looking to dig into your pocket. Anything they're trying to sell you it's not like they're going to run out of it, so you can explore on your own. You could find out what their offerings are on your own, and you can call them on your own terms. So, I would suggest that you exercise your Caller ID and don't take that phone call. Then, you decide for yourself whether a Yelp deal is something that works for you. I know it's something that Yelpers are looking for, so you might want to take that into consideration.If you think about it, there is supposed to be an ergo scenario between the Yelp deal and the Yelp review. A Yelper sees the deal, comes through the door to take advantage of the deal, then you give them that great customer service and then Yelpers do what Yelpers do, they Yelp. It's a loose air go scenario, but in theory that's the way it's supposed to work. Whether you believe it works or not, well, I don't know, but the cool thing about this is you can place a nice little controlled bet to find out. And if it works for you then roll with it.The next three things that you can do to get Yelp reviews we've actually already talked about because those same things that were in the Yelp review blog that said, "Don't ask for reviews", and just as a reminder, it's put a badge on your website, get it in your email signature letting them know that you have a profile, and then get some signage up there in your salon. Put it in a window or put it on the counter somewhere where your folks can easily see it.Now there's a couple of variations on a theme there, things that you can do to enhance that just a little bit. Instead of just putting the badge on your site, you can also take those reviews, the good ones of course, off of Yelp, copy them out, and actually stick them in your testimonial section so that they're plain to see. You can also take those same reviews, get them framed up, make them look nice and pretty, and put them where they're easily seen when someone's inside your salon. You can put them up against the mirror, you can put them, if you got a little waiting area, put them right there so people can see that somebody else thinks you're all that and some chicken. Again, this is just ways for you to let other Yelpers know that it's time to get busy.Now, even though we've talked about it, there's a twist that I want to throw at you because when we get down to this part right here, the question comes into how do I ask for a review. You know that Yelp's all about don't ask for a review, "Do not ask for a review", and that's cool, and that's fine and dandy, and all that, but there's a kind of a little gray area, a little bit of hmm, are you sure, because Yelp says there's absolutely nothing wrong with bringing attention to the fact that you've got a Yelp profile. A matter of fact, they want you to do that. That's their suggestion.Well, what's wrong with letting them know that you're shooting for reviews if you don't actually ask for reviews. It's actually a variation of something that Dylan Wilson says in one of his examples. Let me play it for you.Needless to say, Dylan's a little bit aggressive. He whole-heartedly [SP] believes in incentives for getting Yelp reviews. You have to decide for yourself whether or not that's the route you want to go, but that's not really why I played you that snippet. I wanted you to hear the email message and not even the whole email message, just the very first part.Yelp is pretty specific about what they don't want. They don't want you to be over solicitous and they don't want you to specifically ask for reviews, definitely don't ask for positive reviews, but what's wrong with simply stating that you are trying to reach "x" number of reviews, and then saying, hey, go check out my profile. That's not being over solicitous. You're simply stating a fact.Of course, if you happen to have some Yelpers that you know who know that you're trying to reach that, and if they're on your side and they feel good or predisposed towards you, chances are they're going to want to help you reach that goal. Nothing wrong with that and you didn't ask for a review. So far, everything we've talked about falls right in line with Yelp's agenda, so we should in theory be good to go should most of the reviews we get should stick. Will they all stick? No, they won't. It just isn't going to happen. Why? Because Yelp's review filter sucks. It just does.They'll tweak it. They'll keep tweaking it the same way Google keeps tweaking theirs, but in the meantime good people are going to disappear and they'll come back, and they'll disappear, and that kind of stuff. So, don't sweat it too much because I guarantee you stay within the agenda, you'll be in a much better position than folks who are operating off the reservation shall we say.Now we got one more tip that actually falls within the Yelp agenda and I want to throw it at you, but to do that we need to refer back to Dylan Wilson's tip number seven which was contact all of your email, Facebook, Twitter followers, and give them an incentive for leaving positive Yelp reviews. Let's kind of get past that leaving the incentive part because that's not within their agenda and let's go to the contact all of your email, Facebook, and Twitter followers. You probably know a lot of people who are on Yelp, you just don't know that they're on Yelp.Luckily for you, Yelp gives you a way of finding out who they are. If your Facebook is tied into your Yelp, then all you have to do is go to Find Friends, dead center of the menu bar under your personal profile, and it will tell you everybody that's a Facebook friend of yours that has a Yelp profile, and you can send a request to be friends, but more importantly you now know that if you've done business with them and they're predisposed towards you, you did the right thing by them, hey, cool beans, you can get a review that's probably going to stick. Same thing applies for your email accounts. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and of course Outlook, you can use all of those to find out who you know that's a contact, who you've done business with that is already a Yelper.Now those are the things that will help you stay aligned with Yelp since they have an agenda and probably do you a whole lot better than some of the other examples, or guides, or tips that are out there that require you to do a whole lot more. You can harvest non-Yelpers and turn them into Yelpers. It's going to take a little tending to that garden, but it can be done. And it's a long-term process, so hey, you know, you want to jump in that direction, jump in that direction. But, if you're sitting on zero reviews right now, chances are you might want to deviate from that game plan just a little bit or at least move down two tracks at one time.Is Yelp going to be aggravating from now on? Yes. They're not changing their heathen ways anytime soon, but at least now you got some tools that you can use and you understand the game that's being played.Oh, okay. We're done talking about Yelp and not a moment too soon. I hate that platform, but unfortunately it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So, hopefully this gives you something that you can play with.Next week, we're going back to the roots. We're going back to talking about what we're supposed to do, things about your website, and we're going to talk specifically about blogging because blogging is the gift that keeps on giving. And we talked about Pay-Per-Click, you know, the Google AdWords, we're going to do a little bit of comparison because I came across an article that piqued my curiosity that says that, "Pound for pound, ounce for ounce, blogging/content marketing is better than Pay-Per-Click in the long-term." So, we're going to explore that and we're going to see if we can't get you to get your little blog on, but that's for next week. Now, it's time for me to bounce.This has been another episode of the I Help Salons podcast brought to you by me, your friendly neighborhood internet Sherpa, and all the cool things we do at eMicrobranding Web Hosting located at emicrobranding.com
. And in the words of the immortal, the chief rocker Frankie Crocker, "May you live as long as you want, never want as long as you live. May you live to be 100 and me, 100 minus a day so I'll never know that nice people like you have passed away." Go for the new great things people. I'll see you right back here next week, same bat time, same bat channel. Bye.