In December 2012, I wrote a column titled, “Is Yelp Making You Yell?” It’s hard to believe it has been nearly five years since I’ve discussed Yelp to any extent.
Back then, the complaints about Yelp from our industry were frequent. There are still many complaints, but Yelp believes these are more related to misunderstandings than anything else. I wanted to revisit this topic because Yelp is very much a player in how people see businesses online, including yours. In fact, they’re a way bigger player than you think. Yelp cannot be ignored.
Ignore Yelp at Your Own Peril
You best not ignore Yelp, and here’s why. I’ll bet you didn’t know most of the following about Yelp:
- Yelp powers local results for Yahoo.
- Yelp powers local results listings for Bing.
- Yelp powers local Apple map results for iPhones, iPads and Safari, so when you ask Siri for help finding a local body shop, it’s Yelp that helps find it for you.
- Yelp is behind most GPS system business listings in automobiles, including the following:
- Range Rover
…and more are likely to follow.
- These auto manufacturer partners are primarily using Yelp Fusion, which provides navigation screen functionality that supplies information that’s helpful for the driver such as business name, address, phone number, ratings, review excerpts and photos. Did you know that drivers could see reviews on so many vehicles on the road today? That’s Yelp.
- Yelp competes directly with your business for search results on search engines. More often than not, Yelp shows up on the coveted page one, or even position one. In our research, it sometimes even outranks a shop’s own website, even when you search for that shop by name!
- When you say “Alexa, find local body shops,” it’s Yelp that provides 93 percent of that search technology for Amazon’s Echo and Dot speakers.
- If there’s a competitor in your market who is a Yelp sponsor, their ad on YOUR page will take 15 percent of traffic away from your page.
- Yelp pushes notifications to their users to leave reviews after being at a particular business.
- Some of the top consolidators in the industry are using enhanced listings on Yelp.
- 92 percent of consumers searching Yelp for automotive businesses make a purchase decision within a week; 50 percent of them make that decision within a day.
- In the last 30 days, there were 1,789,235 searches inbound on Yelp across the nation specifically for “auto body shops.” Did you get any of those cars to fix? Would you know if you did?
See what I mean? Yelp is everywhere. People are finding body shops across the country right now as you’re reading this. Maybe we need to take a deeper look into things.
To Pay or Not to Pay
For some time now, I’ve advised shops that becoming a sponsor on Yelp can be expensive, and you must carefully track your referral sources to determine whether or not this sponsorship is worth it. For most smaller shops, my advice, up to this point, has been to claim your free “basic” listing, brand it, upload photos and make sure your business name, address and phone are accurate and match the information on your website. However, things have changed at Yelp, and my team at Optima Automotive is digging deeply to determine what those changes mean to you.
What we’ve found, up to this point, is that Yelp is now offering MSOs (10 locations or more) special pricing for enhanced listings. All claimed Yelp business pages can add photos and respond to reviews. Branded and enhanced listings can create “From the Business” descriptions of the business, a call-to-action button that increases traffic and customer leads by more than 50 percent, and a photo slideshow and video. Enhanced listings also remove competitors’ ads from your Yelp page. And, enhanced listings have the support of a dedicated Yelp account manager, bulk claiming of pages by Yelp for the client, bulk updating of pages, the ability for multiple logins, master, regional and individual access, and aggregated reporting across all locations with campaign performance metrics along with single-location reporting. The special pricing available to MSOs is currently not available to single locations or businesses with fewer than 10 locations. However, Optima is looking into how we can help address that.
Before I can put my stamp of approval on recommending you becoming a Yelp Enhanced partner or not, I want to be sure the payoff is there. We’re conducting a 30-day trial with a group of shops in the Midwest where we’re going to track the traffic these locations receive, the requests for estimates, the phone calls generated, clicks to their websites and the number of cars they fix. In my column in January 2018, watch for the results of this trial and my recommendations for you.