Many small business owners are reluctant to work with Yelp but Yelp is here to stay. It was recently announced that Yahoo! will be partnering with Yelp to enhance their local search functionality. I personally know many people who turn to Yelp for information on services and businesses before they hire them – not as the solitary source but definitely as part of their research. I encourage all my clients to claim their Yelp page, add their business information and photos and monitor the reviews. If they receive a bad review, respond to it professionally.
I do hear that many business owners feel the Yelp reviews can be unfair or biased to businesses that pay for advertising and some businesses are finding that reviews are not showing up on their pages. Yelp has been working to combat many of the issues brought up by small business owners. Their Communications Director, Vince Sollitto, was recently interviewed on Ronn Owens on KGO Radio. You can listen to the podcast here. I felt this was an informative and candid interview where he explained Yelp’s business process and how/why certain reviews are posted when others are not. There were a mix of callers – some who relied on Yelp to grow their business and others who felt Yelp was unfair with their reviews and ratings.
I do think if you are a local business and rely on your local community for business, Yelp is a necessary part of your marketing and it should not be ignored.