If you’ve done any sort of Googling in your lifetime (and let’s be honest, it’s probably how you found this post) then you’re at least a little bit aware of how Google chooses to list its results. It tries to show you the best fit to your search phrase that it can without you having to work too hard to get to what you’re looking for. How does it do this? By using unique ranking factors such as keywords, location, content & much, much more.
Now, let’s say you want to do a local search for a business inside of Yelp. Well, Yelp in and of itself is also a search engine – for local businesses – and has its own unique ranking factors much like Google. So, if you’re a business owner it only makes sense to do everything you can to optimize your Yelp profile to help your business show up ahead of every other listing. But how can you optimize your Yelp profile to rank better? By focusing on 5 key areas.
Before you begin, you will need to have already claimed your business listing. For instructions on how to do this please read Yelp’s official guide and then return and continue optimizing your business listing.
1. Take advantage of the “About this Business” section
Much like Google, Yelp uses keywords as one of its most significant ranking factors. And there are a few areas that you can use to get your keywords out there. The first and most straightforward section is the “specialties” area. This is where Yelp basically gives you the opportunity to straight out list what you want to be known for. List your business service specialties here and it’ll help your rankings. The next two areas, “History” and “Meet the Business Owner” gives you a chance to explain more about your company and its products/services while being able to work in more keywords or phrases that maximize your efforts. Be forewarned however. Yelp doesn’t like keyword stuffing. So, make sure you are providing helpful information while still trying to use your keywords (much like traditional SEO).
2. Upload tons of (quality) photos
One of the ranking factors that Yelp takes into account when ranking your Yelp listing is something they call “dwell time”, or how long a user stays within a given business page. One way to increase this time is to have a lot of high quality and interesting photos for someone to scroll through. Now, this doesn’t mean upload a thousand photos of a bunch of random things that have no real value. A user won’t stick around for those. They will however stick around for photos that give value by being varied, quality, engaging & informative. Encourage your customers to post photos as well because Yelp gives higher authority to user generated content. Also remember to add descriptions to your photos. This is another opportunity to get some product or service-related information in there.
3. Make sure your business information is correct
Having your business information (hours, address, business category, etc.) correctly listed is super important when it comes to search inside Yelp. This is because if your hours are incorrect, and a user does a search you may not show up because Yelp assumes you are closed. The same goes for business categories. Another big reason this is important is because when your information is wrong inside of Yelp, this also means that this information is wrong inside of Apple Maps. This is because Apple pulls all of their business information directly from Yelp. So, if you’ve got something wrong on your Yelp page, it’s wrong on Apple. And again, Apple Maps is another search engine that you can be found on. Its importance is paramount.
4. Generate user reviews
Yeah, yeah I know. This is a ridiculously obvious tip. But the fact remains that user reviews are near the top of the list as a ranking factor on Yelp. And this really makes sense if you think about it. Yelp wants to be as objective as possible when determining rankings and they are able to do that by placing a business in search based of the contents of their reviews. Yelp will use the content of the reviews on your page to determine the best fit for a users search. So while getting a lot of reviews is one thing – making sure people mention specific products or services in said review is actually much more important. This actually segues us into probably the most important ranking factor on Yelp.
5. Generate “fresh” content, engagement
It’s not uncommon (and usually the norm) to see a business with less reviews ranked above businesses with more reviews. This is because Yelp takes the freshness of the content on a business listing into account even more than the number and/or star rating of a business. So, a company who had a lot of reviews a few months ago but hasn’t had any since will rank lower than a company with maybe less reviews but receives a new one every few days. This helps keep reviews and ratings relevant instead of relying on older customer experiences. This is why Yelp values it so much. It’s also obviously the hardest part of the algorithm to crack because Yelp explicitly forbids asking customers to review your business but there are ways to help get more reviews. And it’s really worth the effort.
Aside from “fresh reviews” Yelp also takes into account things such as check-ins, photo uploads, user questions and answers, owner responses, coupon/special offers, and more when it determines a page’s “freshness”. One easy way to help boost your Yelp rankings could be as simple as setting up a check-in offer on your listing. Here a a few things Yelp recommends doing. These things help your page stay fresher, longer. Basically, Yelp just wants to see that your business is active on the site and popular with users.
Cracking the Yelp SEO code
While Yelp’s SEO parameters are no where near the depths that Google’s SEO factors reach it doesn’t make it any less important ESPECIALLY if you’re a local business. Yelp’s impact on sales has been studied countless times. Where you show up in Yelp’s search results is a direct influence on how a potential user finds you. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses throw these review websites to wayside and as result are losing a lot of potential business. We noticed this and as a result set up our own Reputation Management program at webFEAT to handle the sticky details with Yelp and other review outlets like Google. We’ve seen substantial review growth in the clients that utilize this service. If you’re interested or simply just want to learn a little bit more about these services feel free to contact us to discuss!