The Internet has revolutionized the face of marketing and offers consumers a plethora of resources to thoroughly research a product or service before making the decision to buy.

According to the Fleishman-Hillard Digital Consumer Index, 89 percent of the consumers surveyed claimed to use the Internet to make their buying decisions. Approximately 70 percent of consumer searches on the web are for local businesses, and 81 percent of these local searches that are performed using a mobile device result in conversions. These statistics alone indicate the power of local search. 

Yelp and Local Search 

In an effort to bring together consumers and local businesses, Yelp was born in 2004. This online collection of reviews on local restaurants, attractions and shops prides itself on helping consumers find nearby businesses based on reviews and recommendations from informed and credible locals. As of the first quarter of 2015, the site featured more than 90 million reviews of local businesses and reported approximately 142 million monthly visitors, on average.

Yelp is one of the most widely used local search and review resources for consumers, so your business can’t afford to not have an active presence on this site. 

Having an active presence on Yelp offers local businesses a number of advantages, including: 

  • In a world where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key, Yelp provides another opportunity for your business to appear at the top of a search-results page. Yelp activity has a real impact on your search rankings. 

  • Consumers crave validation before making a purchase, and being able to read positive reviews on your Yelp page from actual customers about their experiences with your product or service helps to build instant credibility for your brand.  

  • Yelp provides your business with another opportunity to deepen the relationship with your customers and create loyalty for your brand. By recognizing the value of your customer reviews and responding to them, you can communicate your appreciation for your customers and encourage repeat business. 

Getting Started with Yelp 

Now that you’ve made the decision to make Yelp a part of your local search marketing strategy, you may be wondering how to get started. 

It’s always a smart idea to first browse through Yelp to view your competitors’ profiles to see what they’re doing right. Take note of what their customers are saying about them. Try to gain an understanding of what merits a strong customer review and why your competitors may be receiving poor reviews. By doing so, you can leverage your own success on the site.  

The next step is to create your own Yelp business profile in its entirety. Pay close attention to the following critical components: 

  • Be sure to fill out your business name, select a category for your business, and provide your full address, phone number. 

  • Share your website address and other social media sites on which you have an active presence. 

  • Include important information about your business, such as your hours, price point, parking information, and anything else that your customers should know before paying you a visit. 

  • Create a detailed bio about your business that will help to further convince prospective customers to visit your business. 

  • Offer a strong photo gallery, ideally with professional shots that will help communicate to your customers what your business is all about. It’s a good idea to include a picture of the front of your business to help first time visitors better recognize your location.  

Yelp is an online guide that offers businesses a free way to connect with existing and prospective customers. Being recognized as one of the most credible review sites with more than one million online visitors per month, on average, your business cannot afford avoid having an active presence on Yelp. Today’s consumers crave third-party validation before making a buying decision, and Yelp offers opinions about brands from trusted locals in the know.