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Tricks to Getting Great Yelp Reviews

on January 2, 2012

This blog post is a report being submitted for Intertainment Media, makers of desktop communications and content app, KNCTR, and real-time chat translation tool, Ortsbo. It was originally published on Intertainment Media’s blog.

If you’re a small business owner, or talk to a small business owner, especially a retail business owner, you probably know about their love-hate relationship with Yelp.

Yelp has become a phenomenal resource for consumers looking for great vetted recommendations. The operative word there is “vetted” as that’s been a source of consternation between Yelp and the vendors who are reviewed on the site. Yelp has a very secretive algorithm for how they vet the authenticity of a review. They realize they have to keep that algorithm secret because if they made the information public, it would be easy to circumvent.

While asking your audience to retweet something, or comment on a blog post is acceptable social media behavior, Yelp actively discourages vendors from soliciting reviews on its site. Seems odd that they would discourage that since user reviews are their core assets that drive value for the product. But if the review isn’t authentic, then it actually detracts from the value of the service. That’s why Yelp is so vehement about it.

Talk to vendors and they’ll tell you many authentic and legitimate reviews have been removed, and it understandably aggravates them greatly, especially when Yelp leaves up negative reviews.

Regardless of where you stand on the debate there are techniques to getting more Yelp reviews without being overtly solicitous. The suggestions all revolve around keeping Yelp top of mind with the customer. Here’s how:

Ask customers to visit your Yelp page

“There is an important distinction between ‘Hey, write a review about me on Yelp,’ [BAD] and ‘Hey, check us out on Yelp!’ [GOOD],” said Luther Lowe, Director of Outreach and Public Policy at Yelp. “It’s the difference between actively pursuing testimonials and simply creating awareness of your business through social media outlets.”

Brand your business and website with Yelp

Lowe also recommends you adorn your front door, coasters, napkins, website, email signature, and cash register with “Find us on Yelp” stickers. You can freely use these Flickr images or use this widget to create a badge with embedded reviews for your website.

Passive request for reviews

Tyler Willis, VP of Business Development at Unified suggests a more informational way of asking for a reviews rather than outright request. Print on the receipt and/or say in person, “If you enjoyed your time tonight, we love getting reviews on Yelp.” Just say that, and nothing else. It’s purely informational even though it’s a passive way of saying, “We want a review.”

Lead them to Yelp

If you want people to leave a review, make it easy for them to do so. That means configuring your website’s UI so that the Yelp button is big and prominent and it’s clear that’s a place for them to go. Willis also suggests forwarding a web address, such as myrestaurant.com/yelp, to your Yelp URL.

Create a Yelp Deal

One way to draw customers into Yelp is with an “only on Yelp” coupon. That’s possible with Yelp Deals. Let your customers know that you always post your first coupons and deals on Yelp.

Talk about Yelp

Mat Siltala suggests you ask customers if they found out about you through Yelp. No matter what they say that opens the door for a conversation about Yelp. Use it to talk about how many of your customers come from Yelp (whether it’s true or not) and tell a story about how Yelp has been helpful to you with some other non-related business. When you tell your story make it clear that it was the positive reviews on Yelp that influenced your decision to go to that establishment.

You can be so bold as to say, “Yelp is my favorite way to attract new clients and reviews are what put us on the map,” said Siltala. “Expressing how powerful an impact positive reviews are to your business is really stating the obvious! Its a direct yet subtle way to influence a positive response.”

Yelp customers get the best service

I like Siltala’s suggestion of dropping the line, “Because you found us through Yelp, we’re going to deliver you the best service.” Of course you try to deliver the best service to all customers, but that phrase really connects the service you’re delivering with Yelp.

Yelp goodbye

Siltala goes on to suggest that when a customer who found you through Yelp leaves your establishment, say, “Thanks for choosing our business AND using Yelp”

Don’t overdo it

Lastly, Siltala advises to do all these suggestions in moderation. There is a point where it goes overboard. Don’t be that guy that overwhelms your customers with your Yelpness.

Creative Commons photo attribution to Yelp.com, roboppy.

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