The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Restaurant on Yelp

Yelp has rapidly become the most popular website to find local business listings and reviews. With business listings for every town and city in the US, customers can find every business type they can possibly think of. From dentists to nightclubs, hotels to beauty spa’s, and even your restaurant, Yelp has listings for everything a consumer could wish to find. Being an independent company, Yelp is able to serve up reviews, ratings, and business information in a generally honest and impartial environment. Today, we discuss Yelp restaurant marketing, to help you make the most of this social media city and to ensure you reap the profitable benefits of a five star Yelp rating and positive reviews.

How Can Yelp Help You Market Your Restaurant?

Yelp currently plays host to 71 million unique visitors per month. Imagine that type of traffic moving past your restaurant window every month. Imagine the 142 million eyes seeing your specials board or seeing the smiles on your customers faces as they dine. This is the potential that Yelp has to offer you. While we can’t promise 71 million people are going to see your business listing every month, we can say that Yelp guarantees a free position to actively target people in your local area who are specifically looking for a restaurant.

Let’s face it; there are very few marketing methods that allow you to position your details (restaurant name, address, website and real customer reviews) in front of such targeted potential customers. A flyer drop for example will only target people in your local area. It won’t specifically target those that are looking to dine out that evening. But because Yelp brings the customers to you, rather than you going to the customers, you’re getting to the heart of the audience you want.

A ‘one star’ increase in Yelp rating (based on Yelp’s five star rating system) leads to a 5-9 % increase in revenue for your restaurant

If that doesn’t tempt your marketing taste buds, then take note that research has been conducted to suggest a ‘one star’ increase in Yelp rating (based on Yelp’s five star rating system) leads to a 5-9 % increase in revenue for your restaurant. And if your stomach still isn’t grumbling for social media success, the same piece of research found that chain restaurants have declined in market share as Yelp penetration has increased, paving the way ever clearer for your independent restaurant. (Source: Michael Luca’s Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com)

Used wisely, and provided the service you offer is a positive one, Yelp can be a fantastic source of finding new customers. Your success on Yelp ultimately depends upon the reviews and ratings you receive, be them negative or positive.

How Do I Add My Restaurant to Yelp?

It is free to market your restaurant on Yelp, unless you decide to pay for a priority position. To find out if your business is already listed on Yelp, and if so edit your details, or to add your business to Yelp, visit the Yelp Business Signup page.

Getting the Most Out of Your Yelp Business Listing

Pay to be an Advertiser – While a standard business listing at Yelp is free, there is the option of paying a fee to ensure your listing is displayed at the top of relevant search results. While there are no fixed fees, advertising packages typically range from $300 to $1,000 per month depending upon the advertising strategy you wish to employ.

By paying as an advertiser, Yelp opens up a whole new set of features for you, including the ability to add unlimited photos to your Yelp account and a high-quality 60-second video produced by a professional videographer to be displayed on your listing. Your adverts are displayed on the listings of other related businesses in your area as well as in the search results when a potential customer is looking for a restaurant in your area. Your competitors’ adverts will also be removed from your listing, allowing you to keep the purchasing focus solely on your business.

Encourage Customers to Write Reviews – The best way to make the most of Yelp is to focus on creating a business listing full of positive and strong reviews. Use signs in your restaurant and footnotes on your menu and bill to ensure customers are aware you actively use Yelp. While it’s not actively encouraged, it does seem to be perfectly acceptable to offer a reward to customers who write reviews, providing they are honest. Taking this in to account, a discount of your customers’ next meal may entice many to write an honest review about their dining experience, even if it’s not a positive review. But with that said, and as we discuss below, negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, constructive criticism should be embraced and listened to.

Connect Other Social Media Fans with Yelp – There’s a good chance that a lot of your audiences on other social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter will be tech-savvy and already use Yelp, so encourage them to connect with you in Yelp too.

Areas of Concern for Restaurant Owners

While Yelp can be a fantastic resource to attract new custom, it can also be a minefield of fake or negative reviews. So while a jump in Yelp rating may be able to increase your revenue significantly, a reduction in your rating may reduce your revenue.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews – It’s a fact of life that those having a bad experience are more likely to talk when compared with those who had a great experience, so be prepared to deal with the occasional bad review. Bad reviews aren’t necessarily a problem, as long as they are dealt with properly by you.

Yelp offers the option of replying to customer reviews, and while I’d actively encourage replying to every review, replying to negative reviews is a must. Be respectful, understanding, and offer a solution. Walk away giving everybody the impression you genuinely care (because you do) and you appreciate the constructive feedback.

See our in-depth guide on how to respond to a negative review on Yelp.

Dealing with Fake reviews – Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t arbitrate disputes, so the best idea is to take the same advice as dealing with a negative review. Reply to the reviewer, be civil and respectful, but make it clear you believe this review to be counterfeit. Done tactfully, most other readers will believe you and spot the fake review themselves.

When deciding whether or not to use Yelp, remember that while it can have a very positive effect on your business, it has also been known to have a negative effect. Before diving in to the sea of Yelp reviews and advertising, ensure you can commit the necessary time to managing your business listing and dealing with the reviews, because there’s nothing more unattractive than a business listing and reviews that are so obviously ignored by the business itself.

Have you had a positive or negative experience with Yelp? Let us know in the comments below.

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Free Restaurant Website Checklist

5 Essential tips for turning your website into a customer magnet!

Plus, a Free email course, Win More Customers From The Web.