Should you be advertising on Yelp?

Did you know that Yelp receives over 95 million UNIQUE visitors—each month!!! Did you know that Plumbing and HVAC are two of the top searched categories?

advertising on Yelp

This is big folks

If you are not on Yelp and invested in your Yelp page you could be missing out big. In a lot of ways, Yelp is becoming like an interactive Yellow Pages. The ONLY reason people go to Yelp is that they are looking to make a decision—they have a need. That means that YELP is at the end of the funnel. Check out these statistics: 

  • 3% of visitors purchase after a month
  • 18% within a month
  • 37% within a week
  • 17% within a day
  • 25% within a few hours

This means, overall, 42% of visitors purchase within a day and 79% purchase within a week! 

Again, people don’t go to YELP to window shop. People go to YELP to leave a review or to make a purchasing decision. 

Now, Google is a Powerhouse—there is no denying that. However, people use Google to learn more about the product and company they might use, while people use YELP to choose the local business they want to use right now. That means that YELP is big news for local businesses and services. YELP converts leads at 3x the rate of Google! 

Plus, 97.7% of home services searches on YELP are unbranded (meaning they didn’t use a name like Joe’s Plumbing). This means that there is a ton of potential to get ahead of the pack and get those leads using YELP ads and enhanced pages. 

But let’s get to the controversy, shall we?

There are some concerns that YELP penalizes businesses by removing their good reviews when they do not advertise or stop their advertising. These accusations have gained so much traction that there is even a documentary on Netflix discussing the issue. In response, YELP has come out clearly and said that they “do not extort local business or manipulate ratings,” and they have independent scholarly studies and won court battels to back them up. However, there is also a strong chorus of small business owners who say they are basically the new mafia. It’s hard to know who to believe. 

In order to move forward we need to understand how YELP’s review filter works, and why they even have one. Yelp provides the answer to this question, but to sum it up:

Why does Yelp have a review filter?

First, some businesses are paying people to leave fake reviews on a mass scale. They hire a person to create fake accounts and leave reviews. 

Second, not all reviews are created equal. A person who goes out to eat several times a week and leaves reviews is going to have a better handle on the food scene then someone who goes out once a month and leaves a review once a year. 

Third, some people just jump online to be mean.

With all of this in mind, Yelp realized that for their review site to stand out from others they needed to find a way to police the situation. That is where their recommendation software (the review filter) comes into play. 

How does the review filter work?

Reviews are analyzed for quality, reliability, and user activity. If you are a frequent reviewer whose reviews have received positive attention (other Yelpers liked the review and found it helpful), then your review is most likely going to live in the recommended reviews category. If you have never been on Yelp, and are just jumping on to rant, then Yelp may move your review to the not-recommended category because they don’t know who you are and question why you might be there. 

Yelp’s filter is continuously working in the background gathering information about the reviews AND the reviewers. If Yelp sees that a person is only posting negative reviews it is going to take that into account. If Yelp sees that a person is now frequently using Yelp the software may move their review from the not-recommended section to the recommended section. In other words, this is their explanation for why reviews appear and disappear. 

So, should you advertise on Yelp?

My advice—for now roll with the punches. The truth is that the majority of reviews on YELP are positive. 80% of the reviews left on YELP are 3 stars or higher . . . 49% of those being 5-star reviews, and 19% being 4 star reviews. And if you are honest about your own personal experiences with businesses—doesn’t that seem accurate? Yes, not having control over the reviews is nerve racking! It is difficult to just trust that their algorithm for filtering reviews (picking the ones that are suspicious or unhelpful) works correctly. But bottom line, people have been leaving accurate and inaccurate reviews since the beginning of time. The truth is that consumers are smart enough to know that some people are just mean and grumpy. 

Maybe the better questions is can you afford NOT to be on YELP? If YELP is the new yellow pages, and it has such a high conversion rate, are you missing out on high quality leads at a low price? Life isn’t fair. Nothing is perfect. But 79% of people purchasing within a week sounds like something you should consider. For example, one of our clients is spending $4000/month and receiving 498 user views and converting over 50% into customer leads. Now their average CPC is $16—that seems a little high when we can get a CPC with Pandora radio for $2. BUT—people aren’t listening to Pandora to buy plumbing services, whereas on YELP they are there to pick the plumbing company they are going to use right now. See the difference? You are paying more for a higher quality lead—it might be worth it. 

If you want to see what YELP can do for you, have some questions or concerns, give us a call and ask for Laura. The good news is, as your agent, she isn’t biased either way—and will help you make the best decision for your overall advertising spend. 

Emily Morosi