Why Yelp is a necessary evil pt. 2: How it works

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Why Yelp is a necessary evil pt. 2: How it works

Section 2: The 3 things you should know about the inner workings of Yelp’s platform

So, how does Yelp work anyway? You’ve got this listing, and maybe you have a few reviews, but you’re not really sure what you’re even supposed to be doing with it. All you know is that Yelp calls you once every couple of weeks (or more) to ask you to pay them for advertising, and you’re really not sure if that’s a good idea.

Here’s the basics of it:

  1. It’s not pay-to-play (no, really)
  2. Not only can you not ask for good reviews, but you can’t ask for reviews at all
  3. Slow and steady wins the race

1.     It’s not pay-to-play

We know. You’ve heard stories, like: “So-and-so up the street paid for an annual advertising contract with Yelp and all of a sudden, all of the good reviews that had been stripped from their page magically reappeared.”  That had to be a result of the advertising, right? Unfortunately, no, it’s not that easy. After years of advertising with Yelp for our 50 partner practices, we can say, empirically, that review filtering is not related to advertising spend. We’ve spent the time and money to test this across our partner practices so you don’t have to, and we’ve found that advertising with Yelp can certainly be worthwhile to your practice, but it won’t be because it will unlock the happy reviews your clients have left you, nor will it send the bad ones down to filtered-review purgatory. It will be worthwhile because, done right, it can drive increased traffic to your site and ultimately bring clients through your doors.

2.     You can’t ask for good reviews

Actually, you can’t ask for reviews at all. As of late 2017, Yelp’s position is that you shouldn’t ask anyone for reviews because soliciting reviews from happy clients leads to bias on your page. Whether or not that’s actually true can be debated, but that’s their position for now.

So, what’s a practice to do? Complying with Yelp’s Terms and Conditions while also trying to keep reviews coming in is a fine line to walk. However, there are actions you can take to remind clients that you’re on Yelp, which should at least keep a sprinkling of reviews coming in. For instance, Yelp will provide you with a “Find us on Yelp!” window cling to put on your door. You can also add a Yelp button to your website that will link clients to your Yelp page.

You may also want to consider putting a sign up at reception worded something like, “We’d love to know how we’re doing! Feel free to let others know about your experience with [Animal Hospital Name] via Yelp or Google Reviews.” This way, you’re not selectively asking only happy clients to review their experience.

3.     Slow and steady wins the race

You may be asking yourself how you can overcome Yelp’s seemingly arbitrary review filter. At the heart of it, Yelp’s algorithm filters reviews it thinks are fake. It monitors activity on your page closely, and any activity that doesn’t jive with the norm will cause filtered reviews. What does this mean exactly? Let’s say you did a very bad thing and sent an email to your client list asking them to leave a review on Yelp, and low and behold you got 10 new reviews in a single day! We can almost guarantee within a couple of weeks every single one of those reviews would be filtered. Yelp’s algorithm expects reviews for businesses like veterinary practices to trickle in slowly, so it will flag any uptick in activity as suspicious. This is especially prudent considering their recent crackdown on review solicitation. It’s also why you’ll want to passively remind your clients that you’re on Yelp rather than straight out asking for reviews.

Stop back tomorrow as we dive into our suggestions for how veterinary practices can utilize Yelp advertising for increased traffic without overspending.

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