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If you're anything like most restaurant owners/managers out there, you see the Yelp App as either a blessing or a curse to the food/beverage industry. If you're on the right side of the "local review app," you can bask in the all of the benefits that it bestows. If you're on the wrong side of it, however, it can be something that actually hurts your business and drives business away.
I've used the Yelp App since it debuted. I've also been a small business focused digital marketer for years. The reason that I'm writing this article is simple. I want to pull back the curtain and show you exactly how to get exactly what you want out of the Yelp app (more sales via new and repeat customers) by helping you understand how to use their algorithm to your advantage.
What I'll be covering in this article:
Let's get started.
One of the most common complaints about Yelp from folks in the Restaurant industry is that Yelp has become a "Pay-to-Play" only application. This meaning that you have to subscribe your business to their "ads" or "upgraded subscription" to show up anywhere in the rankings.
While it is true that using either of these paid options makes it easier to show up in Yelp for Search terms, it isn't the primary driver for ranking in Yelp. As a matter of fact, most people that use the Yelp app aren't as trusting of the "sponsored" search results and will immediately jump past them in favor of spots that have actual reviews and high star ratings.
While it is true that you can show up higher in the Yelp search rankings and eliminate some of the adds that show up on your listing by upgrading your business to a paid subscription, this doesn't necessarily equate to more folks actually coming into your business.
The secret to turning Yelp into actual paying customers lies in understanding how the core Yelp algorithm works and how you can take advantage of that for your restaurant.
Let's dig into the Yelp Algorithm and the most important factors that it takes into account when ranking businesses for keyword searches.
Before you can start taking advantage of how the Yelp Algorithm works to rank your business higher for certain keywords, you need to have a clear understanding of how it works.
Disclaimer: No one outside of a few folks that work at Yelp really know all of the pieces of their ranking algorithm. What we're walking through below is based on our years of experience using Yelp and our results with helping restaurants to rank higher through giving Yelp what it wants. Please note that there are other factors, but these are what we have found that are the most important to climbing the Yelp Rankings fast.
The following 6 FACTORS are the most important:
So how do we use the "6 core factors" above to our advantage? Simple. We build a "Yelp Ranking Engine" inside of our Restaurant that helps us take advantage of Yelps Algorithm (without breaking their terms of service).
Let's talk about how to build that "Ranking Engine".
Remember, we don't ever want to "Review Gate" or ask our customer for reviews on Yelp directly. We want to nudge them in that direction by asking them to "check into" our business on Yelp.
So how do we do that?
We build something that we call our "Yelp Review Engine".
From above, our "Review Engine" looks something like this:
It all looks a little something like this:
Ok... Now that you understand how we're using technology and a little clever marketing to give Yelp more of what it wants (and we're ranking higher and getting more business because of that), let's talk about how to actually build all of that.
One of the hardest things that restaurant owners and managers face is having to be a master of everything inside of their business. That includes the marketing a lot of the time as well.
Over the last few years, we've been lucky enough to take the marketing burden off the plate of tons of restaurant owners and managers. If you have any questions about how to build any of the above you can contact me directly here with questions and I'd be glad to help via email for free (a rising tide raises all ships). If you'd like some help building your own "Yelp Review Engine" and would like my full attention, we also have a very affordable package for any restaurant to get started (you can sign up for that here).
I hope this article helps you tame the beast that is Yelp.
Feel free to email me any questions you have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Kersten is a Digital Marketing expert and the owner of the KKC Media. He specializes in helping restaurants grow by leveraging the internet.