How to Use Yelp for Business Owners: Tips and Best Practices

Yelp is a way that millions of users find small businesses in their area. And odds are, you yourself have used it personally to find businesses near you.

Yelp is great for the consumer, but it also has immense value for business owners. Yelp for business owners is a powerful small business marketing tool to get an influx of customers to your business.

But as a small business owner, how can your business get on the results page of your customers’ Yelp searches? In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to learn how to use Yelp for business owners, including steps to get started, costs, tips for success, and more.

What Is Yelp for Business Owners?

So, how does Yelp work for business owners?

In short, Yelp for business gives you the opportunity to create or claim a Yelp profile for your business. Then, when potential customers are searching for a store or service like yours in your area, your business’s page will appear among the search results.

Yelp for business owners gives you, a business owner, access to both free and paid tools to connect your business to consumers using the Yelp app. Yelp has several tools to allow you to customize your business page, either online or using the Yelp for business app on your mobile device.

Some of these are free while others will cost you, but you can use a combination of these tools to make sure your business is getting the attention it needs while staying within your business budget.

How to Use Yelp for Business Owners: 8 Steps to Get Started

For local small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores, utilizing Yelp for business owners should be a necessity. Customers in your area are looking for small businesses like yours, so your business should be showing up in their Yelp search results.

But it’s not like you can just sign up for Yelp for business owners and expect immediate results. You have to put some effort into getting the most out of your Yelp business page before you’ll notice an influx of customers or brand awareness. On top of that, you’ll need to decide how active you’ll be on Yelp, and how much you’ll want to pay to use their features to access new customers. 

These steps will help you learn how to use Yelp for business owners.

Step 1: Add your business.

This is the most basic (but crucial) step toward winning the Yelp game—add your business to Yelp.

If you want to get found on Yelp for business owners, then you need to actually exist on Yelp for business owners.

To add your business on Yelp, follow these steps:

  • Visit the “Add your Business” page on the Yelp for business owners section of the website.
  • Enter the following details about your business: business name, address, phone number, web address, hours, categories, and email address.
  • Click “Add business,” and you’re all set.
yelp for business owners

Here, you can see how easy it is to fill in the necessary information to add your business to Yelp. Image source: Yelp

Adding your business on Yelp is extremely easy—so there’s really no reason to not be using Yelp for business owners. 

Note that Yelp will take some time to process each new business submission. You’ll be notified when your business has been approved, but it could take a day or two.

Step 2: Claim your business.

Alternatively, your small business could already be on Yelp, even if you haven’t specifically registered for Yelp for business owners. This means that a customer of yours has probably left your business a review, even if you don’t already have a Yelp for business owners account. 

If your business already has a profile with a few reviews on it, you can claim it as your own and set up your Yelp for business owners account. Simply click “Manage my free listing” on Yelp for business owners and enter the information you’re prompted to include (shown below).

yelp for business owners

Here, you can search for your business to claim an existing listing. Image source: Yelp

This is an obvious step to getting found on Yelp, but an important one. If you don’t claim your business’s profile on Yelp, just about anyone can set up your business’s profile. Once you’ve claimed your business and have a Yelp for business owners account, you have full control over how your business appears on Yelp’s search.

Plus, as an official Yelp for business owners member, you have access to a range of tools that help you manage your profile, interact with customers, post ads, and so on—we’ll dive into just how to do this later.

Step 3: Make your business profile.

Just as you want your customers to have a top-notch experience when they stumble across your business, you also want them to have a great experience when they stumble across your business’s Yelp profile.

So once you’ve added or claimed your business on Yelp for business owners, it’s time to optimize your Yelp business page.

First things first, make sure you’ve entered all your business information, and triple checked that it’s all correct. This is also where you can correct any wrong information if you previously weren’t in control of your Yelp profile.

To give your customers everything they need to know about getting in contact with your business, make sure you’ve fully filled out your location, hours of operation, price range, and other need-to-know details. Keep a keen eye out for incorrect location information—after all, many Yelp searches are used just to find the location of a specific business. And on that note, make sure that the location information your customers can find on Yelp is the same as what they see on Google or your business Facebook page.

yelp for business owners

Here you can see the different sections where you can edit your profile and information about your business. Image source: Yelp

Making sure all of your business’s information is there and correct is just part of assembling the perfect Yelp profile. You might also want to consider adding photos related to your business. Show off your newly renovated spa, your most beloved dish, or your best-looking haircut by adding your own photos of your products and services.

And to make sure your Yelp for business owners page looks sharp, use only high-quality images. The quality of your Yelp photos is a huge opportunity to stand out among your competition, so aim for at least five high-quality photos that show off your small business.

Step 4: Encourage reviews

Now that your Yelp for business owners page is optimized and looking great, it’s time to actually bring customers to your business. And one of the most obvious and important ways to drive Yelp users to your business is to have a wealth of great customer reviews.

Great customer reviews bring up your average star rating. And according to a Harvard Business School study, a one-star increase in reviews on Yelp brings about 5% to 9% more revenue to a business.[1]

Now, the jury’s out on whether to actively ask your customers to review your business on your Yelp for business owners page. Technically, Yelp lets you ask customers for positive reviews on your profile. (You just can’t pay them for positive Yelp reviews or partake in some Yelp-review trading scheme.)

Asking for Yelp reviews might be the way to go when you know a customer who would give you a top-notch review but just needs a little nudge to get on the Yelp app. As long as you’re not too pushy about it—and you’re sure they’ll give a positive review—asking for good feedback can’t hurt.

But as you probably know as an experienced small business owner, customer reviews are best when they come naturally from customers who just hands-down love your business and want to share with others how amazing their experience was.

The best way to get more Yelp reviews is to keep providing a stellar product with excellent customer service. It’s as simple as that.

But here are a few other ways small business owners can naturally encourage reviews on their Yelp for business owners page:

  • Let people know you’re on Yelp. Broadcast that you created a Yelp page by sending out an email, updating your social media profile, or reaching out to people on your Facebook page. Make sure to put a Yelp banner on your website so your customers know you have a Yelp for business owners profile.
  • Put a physical Yelp sign on your business front. A way to encourage people to review your business on Yelp is to put a “We’re on Yelp!” sign on your front door or right next to your cash register. For an added nudge, print out other great Yelp reviews and put it next to the sign—it’ll help get your customers in the spirit of leaving similarly positive reviews.
  • Reach out to customers who have reviewed you in the past. If your customers have reviewed you on Facebook, Google Plus, or other review sites, odds are they’d be happy to review you on Yelp. A quick ask to anyone who’s had something nice to say about your business in the past is an easy way to get great customer reviews on Yelp.
  • Add your Yelp profile to your signature. If you’re always in contact with your customers via email, let them know that they can check out your Yelp page by adding a link to your signature. Be sure to plug your Yelp profile in any communication material that you send to your customers.

When it comes to getting found on Yelp for business owners, positive customer reviews are key. You’ve got a lot of options for encouraging reviews from happy customers—it just takes some creativity to come up with the best strategy for your business.

Step 5: Uncover good reviews and remove the unrelated.

Yelp has what’s called a “review filter.” The review filter can be one of the most frustrating aspects of learning how to use Yelp for business owners.

Why?

Well, the review filter is a function that flags reviews that seem fake or spammy as “not currently recommended” by Yelp. But it isn’t a foolproof system—Yelp doesn’t always get it right. Some positive reviews from your customers can be pushed down into the “not currently recommended” section. That means those awesome four- and five-star ratings won’t be calculated into your overall Yelp rating.

The valid Yelp reviews that get flagged in the review filter are usually those by one-time Yelp users, users without full profiles, or those who always submit five-star reviews. If you think that you might have a great review hiding in the not currently recommended section, you can try reaching out to the reviewer to engage them as an active user and let them know their comments aren’t being seen.

Once you’ve combed through the good reviews you might be missing, read through the reviews that are being factored into your Yelp rating.

Some of the not-so-stellar reviews are valid and must be dealt with. (Next up, we’ll cover how to deal with negative online reviews.) But some of those one-, two-, or three-star reviews are from customers who fundamentally misunderstood the purpose or service of your business, and didn’t have the experience they were expecting because of the misunderstanding.

In those cases, you can ask Yelp to review the customer feedback and remove irrelevant comments. This is an opportunity to report incorrect comments or those that don’t follow Yelp’s Content Guidelines. (Yelp’s Content Guidelines are short and well-worth the read—you’ll know how to spot reviews that you can easily get removed from your listing.)

Step 6: Be responsive to customer reviews.

Being responsive to reviews on your Yelp profile is a crucial way to have an active profile on Yelp for business owners—no matter if those reviews are positive or negative.

Yelp’s search algorithm favors business owners who actively manage their company’s profile, so responding to reviews can help boost your ranking in the site’s internal search engine.

When you get a positive review from a customer, let them know you appreciate it—leave a genuine and personal comment thanking them for their business.

And while you always hope that every customer experience with your small business is a positive one, negative reviews will pop up on your small business’s Yelp page. When this happens, it’s crucial that you respond to any customer complaints in a sincere, constructive, and collected manner.

yelp for business owners

Here is an example of a business owner responding promptly to a review on Yelp. Image source: Yelp

Nothing good can come from getting angry with disappointed customers. While the experience might have been a misunderstanding—and you are in the right—it’s always best to apologize and ask how your product or services could have been better. Or, publicly state how you’re trying to be better yourself—this shows potential customers that you care about their experience at your small business. Once you’ve publicly addressed the situation, consider privately messaging the customer to reiterate your apologies and further explain the situation.

In fact, negative reviews have a good chance of becoming positive once you’ve addressed the situation and responded to the upset customer. And if your response takes away some fuel from their angry-review fire, then you might be able to encourage the customer to revise or redact their comment.

In the end, it’s crucial to deal with negative customer reviews by responding to them in the right manner.

Step 7: Make announcements and increase your offers.

If you have a noteworthy update or change to your business, announce it on your Yelp for business owners page. Maybe you’ve put together a great new dessert menu, or you’re having a blowout winter sale.

Let your customers know that now is the best time to visit your business by using the Yelp announcement tool. This Yelp for business owners tool is an easy way to stay connected with customers and attract potential clients. All you have to do is create an announcement and publish it to your Yelp page.

And while you’re at it, you can increase your offers and deals for customers who find you through Yelp. Offer discounts on services or meals, buy-one-get-one-free specials, or gift certificates for new customers. Whatever incentivizes your customers to walk through your business’s door is worth promoting on Yelp.

Or you can try running one of Yelp’s official “Yelp Deals.” Yelp Deals lets you offer a discount that Yelp users claim through the site. Yelp then promotes your profile to a wider audience of Yelp users to generate revenue through deal purchases. All this means more eyes on your Yelp page—and your business. One thing to note: Yelp doesn’t charge you for using a Yelp Deal, but they will take a percentage of any of the money made from deals.

Step 8: Use your Yelp dashboard.

How is your business doing on Yelp? Are you getting found? Is it moving the needle for your small business?

Luckily, you don’t have to measure your performance on Yelp blindly. Yelp keeps business owners out of the dark with a Yelp dashboard. When you have a Yelp for business owners profile, you can track your behind-the-scenes metrics on your business’s performance on Yelp.

yelp for business owners

Here you can see the Yelp business owners dashboard where you can monitor your profile and analytics. Image source: Yelp

You can track the amount of traffic your Yelp profile is getting, see how many times your business shows up on a Yelp search result, or track your “User Actions” to see how users engage with your business’s Yelp profile.

If you really dig into it, Yelp’s internal web analytics tools can really tell you some interesting things about whether Yelp is a valuable customer funnel to your business. And if you see that Yelp does add a lot of value to your business, then maybe it’s time to upgrade from a free Yelp for business owners profile and start paying for advertising on Yelp.

Yelp for Business Owners: Costs

Although most of the best practices for Yelp for business owners above are available for free with your standard Yelp for business owners profile, there are additional features you can pay for if you want your Yelp business listing to stand out even more.

Free version: $0 per month

The free version allows you to claim your business and establish your profile among the Yelp community. You’ll have some control over the content that’s on your profile, and the ability to upload your own photos and respond to reviews. Yelp describes this level as allowing you to do the following:

  • Update your business information
  • Upload photos
  • Add your categories and service offerings
  • Respond to reviews
  • Respond to appointment or quote requests
  • Create a Yelp Deal or Check-in Offer

Yelp Enhanced Profile: $90 per month

Beyond these free capabilities, you can also choose to upgrade your business listing with a Yelp Enhanced Profile. As Yelp says, “businesses with an Enhanced Profile see a 38% increase in leads on average.” Basically, this version allows for more customization than the free Yelp for business owners version, as you can add call-to-actions and remove your competitors’ ads. Here’s what Yelp says this version can do:

  • Add a call-to-action button ($1 per day, a la carte)
  • Remove competitor ads from your page ($1 per day a la carte)
  • Customize the order in which your photos or videos appear

Although the Yelp Enhanced profile costs $90 per month, you can also purchase one or more of the components a la carte.

Yelp Business Page Upgrades: $1 to $2 per day

You also have the option to purchase Yelp business pages upgrades, including Business Highlights, Portfolio, and Yelp Verified Licence[2].

  • Business Highlights ($2 per day or $1 per day for businesses who also purchase search ads): These allow you to showcase what you want your business to be known for, like being vegan or the number of years you’ve been in business. There are badges you can pick and choose from to highlight on your business profile.
  • Portfolio ($2 per day): The new Portfolio option allows you to add more photos and custom descriptions to help customers get a better idea of your business.
  • Yelp Verified License ($1 per day): With the Yelp Verified License, you can get a checkmark next to your business to show that you have a valid business license—so that customers can make informed purchasing decisions.

Yelp Ads: Cost varies

And finally, you can further promote your business listing with Yelp Ads. This product is pretty straightforward: it allows you to create and customize ads for your business on the Yelp app.

What do these ads look like? Well, they’re at the top of the page when a user searches for a business. You’ve probably seen them before, whether you realized it or not.

They’ll look like any other listing on Yelp, but there is a little green icon that calls out the fact that the listing is actually an advertisement. You’ll also notice that these Yelp ads only feature businesses with three stars or more. That’s because you can’t actually advertise on Yelp for business owners if you have a lower rating.

Like other advertising platforms, Yelp advertising for business owners is based on a cost-per-click basis. You’ll only pay when a user clicks your ad. The pricing depends on two factors: saturation and relevancy. If your area is saturated with businesses similar to yours, then you’ll pay more to compete on searches relevant to your business.

And if you’re competing on terms that are extremely relevant to your business, you’ll likely pay less on a cost-per-click basis. Of course, you can also advertise your business online outside of Yelp, as well, including free advertising channels or other low-cost options.

Tips for Businesses Owners to Use Yelp Successfully

Now that you have a solid understanding of how to use Yelp for business owners, let’s dive deeper into some of the tips that might help you find greater success on this platform. If you’re looking to streamline your performance on Yelp for business, you’ll want to keep these best practices in mind:

Set up your own personal Yelp account.

While Yelp can be a blessing for business owners, some entrepreneurs have mixed feelings toward the platform. Frustrating aspects of not getting found or receiving negative reviews can taint Yelp for business owners as a whole.

One way to get more familiar with Yelp and the benefits of using it is to make your own personal Yelp account and use it frequently. Search for businesses, leave reviews, and use the search filters.

Doing so will give you greater familiarity with how Yelp works and will put you in your customers’ shoes. You’ll understand how they find your business by finding other businesses yourself.

When you start leaving reviews on other business’s profiles, you might gain some tips and tricks to dealing with your own Yelp for business profile.

Use Yelp’s customer service team to your advantage.

Yelp’s customer service team tries very hard to get small businesses advertising on Yelp. And once you start working on Yelp for business owners, you’ll be sure to get lots of inquiries on your interest in advertising.

This can be a nuisance for busy small business owners who have no intention of spending money on Yelp for ads. However, the Yelp customer service team is eager to work with you.

When something goes wrong on Yelp for business—you’re having trouble switching business locations on the platform, or you can’t report reviews, and so on—try reaching out to the customer support team.

When you have a problem that you can solve yourself on Yelp for business, the customer success team is usually happy to help you resolve it.

Stay active.

There aren’t a lot of tips we can give to help you rank number 1 on every Yelp search all the time. Like most search engines, the algorithm behind Yelp’s search engine is a mystery.

But when it comes to getting found and staying found on Yelp, it’s important to stay active on your Yelp for business owners profile. Respond to customer reviews regularly, make announcements, or post special deals—whatever it takes to stay in front of Yelp and their users’ eyes.

As Hardeep Johar, Presisdent of Stone & Tile Shoppe told us:

“Keep your page up to date because Yelp’s search algorithm favors active company profiles. It’s crucial to regularly respond to customer reviews and share fresh content. You should keep your business page relevant, posting updates and announcements, sharing special deals, and uploading new pictures regularly. Keeping an active profile comes with no additional costs and a minimal time commitment. You can set only about half an hour a week to interact with customers. In this way, you’ll ensure that your visitors will have relevant information and encourage them to interact with you.”

When it comes down to it, if you let your Yelp for business owners profile go untouched for a long while, your customers—and Yelp itself—might think something’s up with your business.

And as, Johar mentions, being active on Yelp comes at no financial cost to you and adds visibility to your business on all accounts.

Make it known you’re on Yelp.

As we mentioned above, it’s one thing to set up your Yelp for business profile, but it’s another thing to actually get customers to see your profile and leave you reviews. Therefore, it can be extremely useful to let your customers know you’re on Yelp.

Of course, you can add a “we’re on Yelp” sticker to your door at your physical location, but there are other marketing tactics you can employ as well.

As Aqsa Tabassam, Brand Manager at Simpl Fulfillment, told us:

“Do not confine yelp stickers only to doors. This platform runs on reviews, so go crazy for them. Many companies place stickers like “people love us on Yelp” or “find us on Yelp” on their main entrance. However, you should put such stickers inside business premises as well. Such notes would be a gentle and continuous reminder to visit your business on Yelp. Additionally, train your staff to ask clients about their experience and then ask happy clients to give a review on Yelp.”

In addition, you might let customers know you’re on Yelp and encourage them to leave reviews by:

  • Including a Yelp icon wherever you show your social media icons (like on your business website, on business cards, etc.)
  • Add a reminder for customers to leave you review on physical or digital receipts
  • Link to your Yelp page from your business website, as well as your social media profiles
  • Send out email or mobile marketing communications regarding your Yelp profile and leaving reviews

Use the Yelp for business app.

Although you can start and use the entirety of your Yelp for business owners profile online, you can also download the Yelp for business app to manage it from your mobile device.

yelp for business owners app

Here you can see some of the things you can do with the Yelp for business owners app. Image source: Yelp

With the app, you can:

  • Track engagement and leads.
  • Respond to reviews, as well as inquiries and messages.
  • Upload and manage photos.
  • View reports on ad clicks from Yelp users (if you use Yelp advertising)
  • Report reviews and messages.

The Yelp for business app is a great tool for busy business owners, allowing you to maintain your Yelp presence regardless of location. Along these lines, this small business app helps you implement our previous tip, “stay active.” It’s quick and easy to stay active on your Yelp for business app when you can simply pull out your phone and respond to reviews.

Yelp for Business Owners: Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve given you a deep dive into the Yelp for business owners platform, but you might have a few outstanding questions. Here are some frequently asked questions:

Should I upgrade to a paid version of Yelp for business?

After reviewing the different options from Yelp, you might be wondering what option is right for your business.

Here’s the deal: If you have the time to put in effort maintaining the free version of your Yelp account (uploading photos, responding to reviews, encouraging reviews, and so on), your profile should organically attract customers—doing the work for you.

If you put in the effort to maintain your page, you probably don’t need to pay for extra services on your Yelp for business owners account.

However, there are a few scenarios where you might want to pay for the extra options. For example, restaurants generally benefit most from paying for Yelp advertising—especially if you operate in a competitive area. If you run a Mexican restaurant that operates in an area with a ton of direct competitors, maybe you want to pay to make sure your listing is seen.

Or, you might have a ton of great reviews, but find that your profile isn’t being found. Those businesses might want to opt in to have their listing seen.

On the flip side of that, if you don’t have a ton of reviews, it’s probably not worth paying to get your Yelp page seen as customers tend not to go to businesses with relatively few reviews.

Is Yelp just for restaurant owners?

It’s a common misconception that only restaurants use Yelp.

Yelp has many different types of small businesses on their platform. So if you’re not a restaurant and are wondering whether to invest in managing your Yelp account, take a look at the chart below. As you can see, many different businesses are on Yelp. If you’re not on there, your competitors probably are, so it’s probably worth learning how to use Yelp for business owners.

yelp for business owners

Different kinds of businesses that use Yelp. Image source: Yelp

How easy is it to use Yelp for business owners?

For many businesses, Yelp is one of the easier ways to gain visibility among potential customers. The free version is the easiest to use, allowing you to upload photos of your business and respond to customers.

Although the Yelp advertising product is easy to use and you’ll have support available to you, there have been complaints with the lack of functionality of their advertising platform.

The Bottom Line

So, if you want to get found on Yelp, always update your profile, keep up the positivity, and stay active.

If you run a fantastic small business with a loyal customer base, there’s no reason why you won’t succeed on Yelp for business owners. Plus, the more time you spend learning how to use Yelp for business—whether online, through the app, or both—the better understanding you’ll have of the platform, and the better results you’ll see for your small business.

Article Sources:

  1. HBS.com. “The Case of Yelp.com
  2. Yelp.com. “Yelp announces business page upgrades

yelp for business owners infographic

Director of Content Marketing at Fundera

Georgia McIntyre

Georgia McIntyre is the director of content marketing at Fundera.

Georgia has written extensively about small business finance, specializing in business lending, credit cards, and accounting solutions. 

Read Full Author Bio