Yelp isn’t just for restaurants and Yelp reviews aren’t only for restaurants either. All types of businesses can benefit from building out a presence on the popular review site and from Yelp reviews. Having a strong presence on Yelp can increase credibility with consumers and help boost your standing on local and organic searches. Because of this, it is important to make sure your Yelp business listing is optimized to its full potential to take advantage of the many benefits Yelp and new Yelp reviews can bring.

How to set up and optimize your Yelp listing

First things first, before worrying about Yelp reviews you will need to claim your business on Yelp. This is an easy and straightforward process. You will need to do is navigate to and search for your business by name and address. If your business pops up in the search results, you will want to claim it. If it isn’t there, you will need to create a new listing.

Once you’ve found your business, you will need to fill out basic information about your business including, address, phone number, website, business category (to improve search results make this as specific as possible), hours of operation, and the email of the person who will be managing the page. Then click add business. This information will need to be verified by Yelp.

Update Business Information

After the verification process is complete you can begin the process of filling out more detailed information about your business listing. You can get started by logging into your account and selecting ‘Business Information’ on the left-hand navigation bar. A lot of this information should already be filled out like your business name, contact information, phone number, website, and business hours. Take a look and make sure everything is correct. Then you will want to take the time to fill out the following fields.


Specialties: This section gives businesses the opportunity to provide searchers with relevant information that can help them make an informed purchase decision. You will want to be very descriptive, use keywords, and highlight the type of information that will help them make informed decisions.

History: In this section, you can describe the history of your business, when it was founded, and let your customers know a little bit more about why you got into business in the first place.

Meet the owner/manager: A lot of customers like to put a name and a face with the people they are doing business with. In this section, Yelp lets you do just that. You can upload a photo and tell your customers a little bit more about yourself.

Business recommendations: In the business recommendations section, business owners can recommend up to five like-minded businesses on Yelp.

Upload Photos to Yelp Listing

Searchers researching a business on Yelp stay on the page 2.5 times longer on listings with photos than on listings without. There is no limit to the number of photos you can upload, so take the time to take high-quality photos and post them to your page to help tell a visual story about your business. Photos can be uploaded both from your computer or via your iPhone or Android device using the Yelp Business owners app. Frankly, your Yelp reviews will be much more valuable when your business listing includes great photos.

Message the Business

Yelp allows you to set up your listings so customers can contact you directly through the app. When customers send you a message you will receive it via email. You can respond to those messages directly via that email, through the messaging section on your Yelp Business Owners account, or through the business owners app.

Yelp Reviews

Now that you have your listing set up, the real work begins. You should take the time to interact with your customer reviews on a regular basis. You should respond to all types of Yelp reviews, not just negative ones. Yelp is a community and the members of that community will appreciate it if they know you are reading reviews and responding either with a quick thanks for their business or with a solution to a problem if there is one.

Best practices for Yelp reviews

Yelp recommends placing a badge to your Yelp listing on your website. Yelp will provide you with the code that you just need to paste into your website. You can also place ‘Find us on Yelp’ signage in your window or near your checkout area. This will make sure your Yelp presence is top of mind for customers when completing the transaction. Finally, Yelp suggests including a link to your listing with the words ‘Check us out on Yelp!’ in your email signature.

How to respond to negative Yelp reviews

As mentioned previously, businesses should respond to all types of Yelp reviews to build and improve relationships with members of the Yelp community. This is especially true when you receive a negative review. When negative reviews are left and no response is made, customers notice, and that inaction could cause as much damage to your reputation as the negative review itself. No business is immune to negative reviews, so how you respond matters. When responding to negative reviews, you should follow these steps:

  1. Apologize
  2. Stay calm
  3. Offer a solution
  4. Offer to speak privately

1. Apologize (you know it’s the right thing to do)

Even if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, it’s important to acknowledge the customer’s complaint and offer a sincere apology. It’s amazing how far the words “I’m sorry” can go toward smoothing over a situation and making it better.

2. Stay calm about a negative Yelp review

No one likes to receive negative feedback, but one of the worst things you can do is let your emotions get in the way. Because of this, we suggest making sure the person responding to the negative Yelp review has some distance from the situation and a calm demeanor. This will ensure that cooler heads prevail and help keep everything in perspective.

3. Offer a solution to the negative Yelp review

Make sure that you aren’t just giving lip service with your apology. You should also offer the customer a proactive solution to their problem. This will show the customer you have put some thought into the response. When responding publicly, you should avoid using canned answers. They oftentimes come off as impersonal and inauthentic.

4. Offer to speak privately about their Yelp Review

Lastly, you provide the customer with the contact information of someone in customer support that they can contact directly to resolve the problem. Doing so doesn’t mean you don’t believe in transparency. It’s just easier to communicate via email or on the phone than going back and forth in the comment section of an online review. It will also ensure that the problem is solved as quickly as possible.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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