How to Use Yelp as a Small Business Owner

Christina Christian
Christina Christian, Columbus Community Manager for is a website that connects people with great local businesses, a community of real people who are passionate about sharing their local experiences, and a marketing tool owners are learning to maximize− for free.

It’s not just a restaurant review site! While restaurants do account for a good portion of our 22 million reviews, the site has grown to much more than that. Shopping is now on par with restaurants as the most reviewed category, each representing 23 percent of reviewed businesses.

Now more than ever, consumers are demonstrating they want to keep their hard-earned paychecks close to home by supporting local. With a monthly average of 61 million unique visitors in Third Quarter 2011 −and an iPhone and iPad mobile app that’s been named the No. 15 and No. 5 most popular apps of all time by Apple iTunes, respectively− Yelp is both the fastest-growing and deepest source of information on local businesses.

So how can you reap the benefits of positive word of mouth with Yelp?

Step 1: Unlock your page on Yelp!
It’s a free way to give your business a voice and personality. First, find your business by searching for it on Yelp. Once you find it, click on the link below your address that reads, “Is this your business?” Follow the three-step process to unlock your business account. Refer to this video for more.

Step 2: Polish up your business profile page and put your best foot forward.
We like to refer to this as your “online storefront.” You’d keep your brick-n-mortar storefront clean with your hours and website, right? The same concept applies here. After all, people are searching for you on Yelp.

  • • Upload photos.
  • • Share your story with your customers on “About This Business.”
  • • Create a Yelp Deal with no upfront cost or a free mobile check-in offer.

Step 3: Engage your customers and begin a dialog with yelpers.
Message people who have reviewed your business with these key things in mind:

  • • Your reviewers are your paying customers.
  • • Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities.
  • • Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated. (Otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)

And those negative reviews? There is a positive side!

Step 4: Connect with your local community manager.
I’m Christina C, the Yelp Columbus community manager and your resource for all things Yelp. From local events to the Weekly Yelp, I’m here to help bridge the gap between an active community of people using Yelp and your business.

Follow me on Twitter at @ColumbusYelp, keep up with Yelp Columbus happenings on Facebook, or email me at [email protected].

Still have a question? Check out some common questions on Yelp’s Business Owner Support Center page or the Yelp Blog for Business Owners.