When everyone talks about a certain social media site – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter – it’s easy to forget some of the other sites that may impact your business.

What about Yelp?

Launched back in 2004, Yelp is the cornerstone of building a successful online presence. Millions of visitors use this go-to resource to learn how others are talking about local businesses.

And since chances are you are trying to grow your local business, are you doing all you can with your Yelp account?

With over 60 million registered users and over 20 million review on the site, Yelp isn’t “yesterday’s news”. While many think of Yelp as a restaurant’s best friend – and they’re right – over 75 percent of the listings are not restaurant related. Which means while people may be heading to Yelp to find a new place for dinner on Friday night, they are sticking around to find everything local in their lives.

To get started on Yelp, search for your business name. Once you find it, click the link that says “Work here? Unlock this Business Page.” If you have any questions along the way, be sure to check in with Yelp’s support center.

Then take your Yelp presence to the next level.

#1 Find Your Competition

Before you start building your own presence, take a look at what your competition is doing.

Search through Yelp and find your direct local competitors. Take a close look at those that come up at the top, and those that have 4+ star ratings. Watch for patterns and incorporate those same ideas into building your own profile.

Just like other sites, the key to Yelp success is sticking with it and continuing to leverage your content. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews from your best clients.

#2 Complete Your Profile … And Then Some

The problem with most profiles is they are half completed. It’s easy to get started and spend 10 minutes with the basics. It’s much more difficult adding the details and getting your profile 100 percent complete.

Be sure to add all the essentials, including:

  • Adding your complete business name
  • Putting your business into the proper category
  • Including a detailed address and phone number
  • Links to other social sites, including your website and blog
  • Quality photographs – use as many as you can and change them up every once in awhile
  • Your business info – what hours you are available, where you meet people, how your business practices work – anything that would make someone choose you over your competition

#3 Create a Strong Photo Gallery

Yep, this shouldn’t even have to be mentioned to a photographer. Yet I see many photographers include one or two images (or worse, nothing) in the gallery and leave it at that.

It’s important to drive people back to your site; its equally important to give people what they want where they are searching. Put some of your best work up on Yelp, and don’t forget about diversifying and showing people where you work. If you have a studio, include a photo or two of your space to let people know what to expect once they get there. (Don’t forget to get the photography domain name)

#4 Use Your Reviews

When people write a review of your business, it only adds credibility to what you do. But whether your reviews are positive or negative, you can use those to your benefit. Comment back to the people that have problems, or leave anything but a five star review. People understand you can’t please 100 percent of the people all the time. The important thing is your customer service skills.

And when you have a five star review, use it even deeper for your online marketing. Bring it over to your site, and tell your site visitors where the review came from (with a link). Invite people to leave their own reviews too.

#5 Track Your Results

Like many other social sites, Yelp has its own dashboard where you can track your businesses performance.

You can track the amount of traffic your business receives, or see how many times your business shows up in the Yelp search results.

You can look at how your visitors are engaging with your business, including how many clicks over to your website, how many mobile check ins you receive, and more.

Bonus: Yelp Extras

While much of Yelp is free, they do have a few things that can help you target people looking for you.

With Yelp Advertising, you can upgrade your profile and accomplish even more. You can include a video, upgrade your photo slideshow, and even remove the competition from your page when its being viewed.

With Yelp Deals, you can attract a wave of new clientele by offering your services at a discount. Although Yelp does keep 30 percent of the discounted price, its still a quick way to bring in a variety of new clients

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