yelp restaurant marketing guide
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Online review sites such as Yelp are a great marketing opportunity for restaurants. Make the most of having a Yelp business page by devising a bulletproof Yelp restaurant marketing strategy. We provide 25 Yelp tips that you can implement to crush the competition.

Before we get into the actual advice on how to use Yelp for business owners, we discuss the main benefits of being on Yelp as a restaurant, as well as the allegations that claim Yelp is a bully extorting business owners. Is Yelp good for business? How effective is Yelp advertising? We’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Why Join Yelp as a Restaurant Owner?

91% of customers read online reviews either regularly or occasionally. Moreover, 72% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor get millions of visitors looking for restaurants every month.

Who uses Yelp? Almost everybody. Being on Yelp as a restaurant can open your virtual door to customers all over the world, but especially to locals searching for delicious food. Is Yelp free for businesses? Yes, Yelp is basically free marketing for your restaurant. You don’t have to pay to get your business listed or take advantage of a number of their cool features. However, you can experiment with their paid services if you want to see what else is out there.

How Does Yelp Work for Business Owners?

At its most basic level, Yelp requires you to claim (or add) your business in a similar way to how you would claim your business on TripAdvisor. This alone gives you the authority to edit your restaurant information: website, location, phone number, opening hours, menu, photos, etc.

The free service also allows restaurant owners to connect with their customers by replying to reviews and direct messages. If you want to take your Yelp profile one step further, you can experiment with Yelp ads and upgrade to features like a call to action button, eliminating competitor ads in customer searches, and more.

5 Advantages of Yelp for Restaurants

  • Helps with SEO. When search engines look at a website, they consider a lot of factors, including backlinks and mentions on high-authority platforms and online directories. Yelp is an extremely reliable source on the internet, so, does Yelp help SEO? Yes. Having your restaurant listed there can boost your SEO efforts.
  • Brings in a lot of traffic. With more than 145 million unique visitors a month, it’s not difficult to understand why just having a Yelp business page can bring people to your restaurant.
  • Exposes you to customers who are ready to make a purchase. One of the best things about Yelp for restaurant owners is that customers usually use it when they’ve already decided they want to go somewhere to eat. So, by finding you on Yelp, they are just a click away from visiting your restaurant.
  • Boosts website traffic. 35% of people who check your profile on Yelp will visit your website within 24 hours. Click To Tweet
  • Can boost sales. 4 out of 5 people on Yelp are determined to buy when they visit a Yelp page. Moreover, 92% of customers who visit Yelp make a purchase. It appears that businesses that have a Yelp profile increase their gains with an average of $8,000 a year without investing in a Yelp restaurant marketing strategy at all.

Is Yelp a Billion Dollar Bully?

Curious to learn more about the allegations of harassment and extortion against Yelp, we decided we couldn’t ignore the 2019 Billion Dollar Bully documentary. Here are the key takeaways from it and what you need to know as a business owner thinking about finetuning your Yelp restaurant marketing strategy.
Main Complaints Against Yelp

Strong words like “mafia,” “harassment,” “extortion,” and “racket” are being thrown around when it comes to Yelp and its business model. The main allegation against the company is that they are extorting business owners for advertising money.

Over 2,000 businesses filed complaints stating their Yelp ranking decreased after they refused to advertise with Yelp. Furthermore, some claimed Yelp sales harassment, with the team either calling or emailing them up to 8-9 times a week.

According to the business owners that were interviewed, if you refuse to advertise with them, you might notice some of your good reviews disappear and Yelp fake negative reviews appear overnight.

Here’s how to spot fake Yelp reviews:

  • No profile picture.
  • No friends or few friends.
  • Little to no profile information.
  • Vague review.

Another complaint highlighted by the documentary is the lack of control business owners have over their Yelp profile. Can a business be removed from Yelp? The answer is no, you cannot take your business down from the website. Moreover, if you want to change information like business hours, address, etc., you have to agree to their Terms of Service, including those that say you can’t sue them.

Yelp has full control over filtered reviews (more on that later), and not many customers know they even exist since they are hidden pretty well at the bottom of a business page. Even if Yelp is supposed to filter reviews that include hate speech, lewdness, bigotry, and so on, they leave many of those up and filter reviews that seem all right at first glance.

Yelp Aggressive Sales Tactics

So, according to the documentary, how does Yelp harass business owners? Well, for one, they get in touch several times a week to suggest Yelp advertising, pitching different packages.

In one instance, a business owner was contacted to advertise and he refused, telling the sales rep that his friend already tried Yelp advertising and didn’t get any results. Following the call, he received an email from Yelp with screenshots of that friend’s back end stats, which is a huge violation of privacy.

According to another business owner, it’s even worse if you advertise with Yelp and then want to stop because they keep on harassing you. And it makes sense for them if we ask ourselves “How does Yelp make money?”. As it turns out, 85% of Yelp’s ad revenue stems from small businesses.

Despite the claims filed with the FTC, the commission didn’t take any action and Yelp got out of it without a scratch. They also declined to be interviewed for the documentary.

What they did do, though, is buy the domain billiondollarbully.com and redirect it to yelp.com/extortion, where they dispel these claims and share testimonials from business owners saying Yelp ads were a success for them.

Fun fact: Yelp has its own Yelp page and its rating is abysmal: 2 stars.

Should You Be on Yelp?

Unfortunately, the real answer to this question is that you don’t really have a say in the matter. If someone adds your restaurant, you can’t take it down. The most you can do is claim it to have some control over its management, and it can be argued that that’s exactly what Yelp wants – to put you in a difficult situation where you have no choice but to depend on the platform.

On the plus side, this also means the answer to the question “How much does it cost to be listed on Yelp?” is nothing. Simply getting your restaurant on there doesn’t cost you a dime. However, if you were to ask how much does Yelp cost overall, the answer would depend on how many paid features you would be willing to unlock.

While we found the way some of the claims were framed in the documentary a bit extreme, and I personally don’t believe we can put 100% of the blame for businesses getting shut down on Yelp alone, there is clearly some truth to this controversial story of Yelp corruption if we consider the old saying “no smoke without fire.”

That said, whether someone else added your restaurant on Yelp or you did it yourself, we advise you to make the best of this situation and take advantage of all their free features to create a business profile on Yelp that will convert. Interact with your customers and strive to get positive Yelp reviews because this is one of the things you have full control over.

Some business owners say Yelp advertising is worth it and that they made money with it, while other Yelp advertising reviews say the exact opposite. So it’s up to you to decide if advertising with Yelp is something that would benefit your restaurant. Meanwhile, we’ve put together a Yelp restaurant marketing strategy that includes both free and paid services, so you can pick and choose the right ones for you.

And ultimately, if all else fails and you find yourself hounded by Yelp, you can always do what Davide Cerretini, owner of Botto Bistro, did after brainstorming how to cheat Yelp. He embraced the hate by offering customers discounts if they gave his restaurant one star on Yelp. 🙂

davide cerretini owner of botto bistro

Source: Davide Cerretini

25 Yelp Restaurant Marketing Tips That Actually Work

1. Claim Your Yelp Business Page Before Someone Else Does

To start putting together a winning Yelp restaurant marketing strategy, you first need to claim your business page or add your restaurant if it’s not listed. It’s important to be the first one to claim your Yelp listing because your competitors might do that before you and use it to do your business harm.

To claim your listing, go to their Claiming your Business page. If you can’t find it, it means it’s not on Yelp yet and you have to add it yourself. To do that, go to this page and input your restaurant’s zip code and name.

add restaurant to yelp page

On the next page, fill in the requested information. For now, focus on the address, phone number, and website. The website URL is particularly important because it will give you a free and powerful backlink. Fill in the categories as well, and be as specific as you can. You can change those later when we’ll explain how and why. Finally, don’t forget to add your email address.

yelp update business information

If you don’t already have a Yelp account, you will be redirected to a page where you can create one so you can claim your Yelp business.

take advantage of yelp for business benefits by creating a biz account

Finally, you will have to verify your account either by SMS (code), phone call, or email. Then, you can start optimizing your Yelp profile.

2. Do Keyword Research

Keywords are very important when trying to rank high anywhere, and that applies to Yelp as well. The same way you do keyword research for restaurant SEO, you have to focus on Yelp SEO too.

Related: SEO for Restaurants Or How to Sell More Food Online (Best-selling Expert Tips for Newbies)

Start your Yelp SEO strategy by making a list of keywords that you want to rank for. It’s important to do that before you start completing your profile because you’re going to need to use those keywords everywhere.

For example, if you own an Italian restaurant, you will want to rank not just for “Italian restaurant,” since there are so many of them out there, but also for more specific keywords like “Italian restaurant in New York,” or even more specific, “Italian restaurant Park Avenue New York.”

The best and easiest way to find keywords you should rank for is to do a Google search for the first keywords you considered, so let’s say “Italian restaurant in New York.” Then, go to related searches at the bottom of the page for more suggestions and use the ones that apply to your restaurant.

yelp optimization by using google related searches

You can also find suggestions on Yelp search by entering your main keyword and seeing what other people are looking for and what works for your restaurant. After you have a substantial list of keywords to help you with Yelp restaurant marketing, you can move on to the next step.

how to use yelp for restaurants search bar

3. Fill in Your Basic Business Information

Before getting into more complex Yelp restaurant marketing ideas, let’s review your business information to make sure everything is in order. To do that, click on the Business Information tab in the left-hand side menu of your Yelp Biz profile.

how to maximize yelp by adding your business information

Go to edit Basic Information and check your business name, address, city, state, zip code, and phone number. If everything is in order, move on to the next step.

At the bottom of the basic information section, you will see a box titled Menu Web Address. To have your menu posted on Yelp, copy and paste the link to your restaurant menu from your website.

how to improve your yelp page by adding your menu

Having the menu readily available to anyone who visits your Yelp business page will help them make a decision faster by decreasing the number of clicks they have to make to see your offers.

5. Add Extra Information

Below the basic information section, you will find a section that focuses on additional information customers might want to learn about your restaurant like whether or not you offer delivery or if you take restaurant reservations. Fill in the entire form to have a complete profile.

add additional information to yelp profilehow to add additional information to yelp profile

If you don’t have an online ordering and delivery system in place yet, try GloriaFood’s free service.

Avoid losing 70% of your customers Offer them the possibility to order food online

6. Add Your Exact Map Location

Having your restaurant positioned correctly is one of the most important things on Yelp. Users often use the map to see the exact location of a restaurant, and if yours doesn’t coincide with what’s on Yelp, you can lose precious customers.

To edit your map location, go to Business Information and click on edit Map Location. This will open a pop-up in which you can drag and drop the marker to the exact location of your restaurant. When you’re done pinning the location, click on Save Changes.

how to improve my yelp page by adding my restaurant on the map

7. Choose the Right Category for Your Restaurant

Under the basic business information, there is a tab dedicated to categories. You can add up to three different categories. This is an important step in your Yelp restaurant marketing blueprint because being extremely specific with your categories can help customers find you.

You will notice in the demo below that we chose pizza and Italian because these are the two main things our demo restaurant prides itself with. To edit your categories, just click on the edit button.

yelp restaurants categories

8. Update Business Hours

Also in the Business Information column, you will find a section titled Hours. Click on Add Hours to let your customers know when you open and close every day.

how to boost yelp reviews by adding your opening hours

If you want to add special hours, go to the Special Hours section, but only after you’ve added the regular hours.

Here, you can add holiday hours to let your customers know you’re open, or that you’re on vacation. For instance, if you’re open on Christmas, it’s important to inform customers of that because a lot of them will be searching for “restaurants near me open on Christmas.” If you change your holiday hours accordingly, your restaurant will pop up in their searches.

how to use yelp to promote your business by adding special opening hours

9. Present Your Specialties

This is a brief description of what your restaurant specializes in. Strive to make it as appealing as possible. This is not just a place to list your dishes but to turn them into a story that will attract customers to your restaurant.

Below is an example of how you could describe an Italian restaurant specializing in pizza. You can replace the keywords (“pizza,” “Italian,” “New York,” etc.) with keywords that work for your restaurant and use this as a template in your own Yelp restaurant marketing plan.

boost yelp search engine optimization by using keywords in your specialties

10. Talk About Your Business History

This is a chance to tell your customers a bit more about your restaurant’s history. It is especially useful to restaurants that have a unique selling point such as being the first restaurant of their kind in a specific area or having a long and rich history.

You can fill in the year the restaurant was established and enter a brief summary of its history to boost your Yelp restaurant marketing efforts. Here is an example of a story you could tell. Don’t forget to add relevant keywords here as well.

how to increase yelp reviews by telling customers more about you

11. Fill in the Meet the Owner Section

Make people feel closer to you and your restaurant by going to the Meet the Owner/Manager section in the Business Information tab and writing a bio. To make it even more personal, don’t forget to add a photo of yourself as well.

Here is an example of a bio that incorporates keywords and tells customers a little bit about the owner and what recommends them for the job.

how to improve yelp reviews by making people feel closer to you

12. Use Business Recommendations to Get Backlinks

Any Yelp restaurant marketing strategy should include backlink earning. At the very bottom of the Business Information page, you will find a section titled Business Recommendations. If you click on Add Business Recommendations, you can add some businesses that you’d like to recommend to your customers.

yelp for business benefits: recommend other businesses

The trick is to add businesses that don’t compete with you directly and to contact them and ask if they might want to feature you in return. That way, you’ll get a strong backlink for your Yelp profile, which will help more customers find you.

The reason you recommend the business doesn’t have to be fancy. Just mention the best thing about it like in the example below and make sure you don’t go over 150 characters.

add a business recommendation on yelp

13. Post Inviting Photos and Videos

Now that you have all of your basic information done with, you can move on to more fun stuff like uploading photos and videos that showcase your restaurant.

To do that, go to the Photos and Videos tab in your admin menu. Click Upload Photos and add your most convincing pictures to keep users on your page more. We advise investing in a professional photo shoot if you want to make your photos stand out.

how to get on yelp top 10 by adding photos to your profile

Take pictures of your dishes, staff, restaurant decor, and ambiance. Remember to also snap some photos when the restaurant is bustling and people are having a good time. Finally, shoot a video presenting your staff and some behind the scenes action to allow customers to get to know you better.

Related: 6 Restaurant Photography Tips & Tricks

14. Add Yelp Biz Badge to Restaurant Website

To add a Yelp badge to your restaurant website, go to Review Badges in the Yelp Biz menu. Choose the badge you want to display, copy the HTML code, and paste it into your website.

You can go for a simple Yelp badge to show customers they can review you on Yelp, or you can display the number of reviews you have and your rating if you’re proud of it.

encourage yelp reviews by adding a badge to your website

15. Use Yelp Check-in Offers

Check-in offers are a neat little trick you can incorporate into your Yelp restaurant marketing plan of action to reward customers that check-in to your business on Yelp. How does that help you?

  • Their friends will see the check-in and want to visit you as well.
  • You will build customer loyalty.
  • You will reward the people who enjoy dining at your restaurant.

To create one, go to Check-in Offers and click on Create a Check-in Offer. You will be taken to a page where you can customize the offer. This will appear on your restaurant listing on Yelp’s apps, and in the search results that are related to your restaurant. Below are some examples of what you can offer.

increase yelp conversion by adding a check in offer

16. Order the Yelp Sticker

If you’re from Canada or the U.S., you can also request a Find Us on Yelp sticker to stick on your window and let customers know they can rate and review you on Yelp. All you have to do is fill out this form. It might take about 3 to 4 weeks for the Review Us on Yelp sticker to get to you, but it’s free of charge, so it’s a Yelp restaurant marketing opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

17. Check Your Inbox Often

Did you know your Yelp profile has an inbox? You can find it in your Yelp Biz menu. That’s where all direct messages from your customers are. Obviously, you’re going to want to reply to these messages as soon as possible to show customers you care and that you want to engage with them.

That said, check your inbox as often as you can to make sure nothing slips by you. If you manage to respond to every message within the hour, you will make your customers very happy. Yelp boasts a similar system to Facebook, showing customers your average response time and approval rate, so strive to make it the best you can.

18. Focus on Reviews

Reviews are the pillar of Yelp restaurant marketing, so it’s your job as a restaurant owner to do whatever you can to get good ones and reply to them. Yelp boasts over 184 million reviews, and out of those reviews, 49% are for restaurants. 45% of customers are likely to check Yelp reviews before they visit a business. Click To Tweet

Recommended: How Diners Choose Restaurants: The Importance of Customer Reviews for Restaurants

How to Ask Clients for a Yelp Review

  • Face to face. If you’ve interacted with them and feel like they would be willing to leave you a review, gather the courage and just ask for one. Asking for Yelp reviews is not a crime as long as you don’t bribe customers in exchange for one.
  • Via email. You can also send your client list an email letting them know you’re on Yelp and that they can review you if they’ve enjoyed dining at your restaurant.
  • By adding a link to your Yelp profile in your email signature. That way, customers will have access to it whenever they get an email from you.

Best Way to Get Yelp Reviews

Although there are several ways to ask for a Yelp review, the best course of action is to ask for one after the customer complimented your food, service, or restaurant in general. This means the best time to ask for reviews is after they finished their meal, when they’re at their most satisfied and they feel the need to share that satisfaction with you.

According to data, getting a good Yelp review is not that hard. In fact, in 2019, 50% of all Yelp reviews were excellent. Plus, 90% of Yelp users reported that positive reviews impact their choice of businesses, so getting them is very important.

How to Respond to Positive Reviews on Yelp

Replying to positive reviews is important because it makes the customer feel heard and valued, it builds brand loyalty, and it attracts other customers who see your reply. Here is what you should do when replying to a positive review:

  • Thank the customer for dining with you and for taking the time to leave a review.
  • Write a personalized message (never two of the same).
  • Express how much you appreciate their review and how happy you are they enjoyed your service.
  • Let them know you’d love to have them back some time in the future and that you’re available for any questions or further feedback.

How to Deal with Bad Yelp Reviews

77% of small businesses claim Yelp has changed the way they take action when it comes to customer issues and complaints. This is what you can do when you get a bad Yelp review:

  • Reply to them. Never ignore a negative review because it will only be worse for you. Also, respond to it as soon as possible.
  • Apologize first. Start your reply with an apology for the customer’s negative experience.
  • Keep it personal. The same as for positive reviews, don’t copy and paste a standard reply.
  • Don’t be argumentative. If the customer is angry, it doesn’t mean you have to be too. Don’t insult them and keep your cool.
  • Try to solve the problem or make the situation right. Come up with a solution that will make them feel better.
  • Explain exactly what course of action you will take to solve this and make sure it never happens again.
  • Use every negative review as a learning opportunity. Does the customer have a point? Are my Yelp reviews trying to tell me something? Am I getting many similar bad reviews? What can I do to improve my service? If more people are signaling the same problem, it means it’s time to do something about it.
  • Don’t sweat it. Every business gets negative reviews. That doesn’t mean your restaurant is bad or that your reputation is stained forever.

How to Remove Bad Reviews from Yelp

Can businesses remove Yelp reviews? Unfortunately, you as a restaurant owner can’t remove bad reviews from Yelp. Only Yelp can do that. You can, however, report it if it’s false, malicious, or it includes hate speech, lewdness, threats, or bigotry. Yelp will review your report and remove the review if they think it’s appropriate.

Here’s how to flag a Yelp review:

  • Click on the flag icon next to it;
  • Choose your reason for flagging it;
  • Write a description of why you decided to flag it;

However, in most cases, if the review is not blatantly inappropriate, you need proof that it is actually damaging, and you might not be able to get it taken down.

You can also give it a shot by responding to the review and trying to make it right and change their initial impression. They might be inclined either to delete the review or to change it and give you a higher rating. This will also show other customers you’re making an effort.

Yelp Review Exchange and Manipulation

Whatever you do, don’t buy positive Yelp reviews, not just because the company doesn’t tolerate them, but also because you want to build your Yelp restaurant marketing strategy on honest reviews you worked for.

What Are Yelp Not Recommended Reviews?

Not Recommended reviews are reviews that Yelp positions at the bottom of a business’ page. They are filtered out by Yelp and do not count for your rating on the platform or for the number of total reviews. They are also difficult to spot and as I’ve mentioned, there is some controversy surrounding them.

how to get not recommended reviews back on yelp

According to Yelp, they usually filter reviews from accounts that have just been created, that don’t have any other reviews, or that have an incomplete profile. If you’re wondering, “Can I sue Yelp for filtering reviews?”, the answer is yes. Others have tried it before but to no avail. The Yelp filtered reviews lawsuit of 2018 had no serious ramifications for the company.

19. Grow Your Yelp Ranking

Yelp Ranking Factors & Algorithm

Yelp takes into account a variety of factors when ranking businesses. The Yelp ranking algorithm is based on 8 main factors:

  • Number of reviews – the more the merrier.
  • Review quality – the number is not as important without quality.
  • Reviews from Elite membersYelp Elite members have a reputation that makes their reviews more impactful.
  • Keywords in reviews – if users include relevant keywords in their reviews (dishes, location), this is going to help you rank higher.
  • Business rating – the higher the rating, the higher you will rank. Your rating is the average of all the reviews you get.
  • Profile completion rate – there’s a reason why we insisted you complete your profile as best as you can. This counts towards your ranking.
  • Business categories – remember when we told you you can choose up to 3 categories and you have to be really specific? That’s why. When you choose a category, it’s like you’re bidding on keywords on Yelp’s search engine.
  • Business name – it also matters if your business name includes some of the keywords you want to target like “restaurant,” “Italian,” or “New York City.”

How to Rank Higher on Yelp

This is all about having a good Yelp SEO strategy. Here’s how to improve your Yelp ranking:

  • Add keywords in all the categories we mentioned above (specialties, history, meet the owner, etc.)
  • Ask for specific reviews including what they liked and where they were served (if you have more locations) because this gives you relevant keywords.
  • Add keywords to photos – the photo names should have keywords in them (example: “italian-restaurant-park-avenue-new-york.jpg”). Don’t forget to add captions to the photos as well.
  • Respond to reviews using relevant keywords.
  • Attempt to unlock not recommended reviews if they are positive. Having a lot of good reviews stuck in the filtered section can be extremely frustrating. Here’s how to get Yelp reviews unfiltered (or at least give it a shot): contact the reviewer and ask them to complete their profile. Yelp doesn’t like reviews from users with an incomplete profile, no friends, and no other reviews left.

How to Get 5 Stars on Yelp

Restaurants that improve their Yelp rating by one point can get 9-10% more sales. Get in on that extra profit by making sure you only get good reviews.

  • Ask your customers about their experience before asking for a review – if the experience is positive, then you can ask for the review because you know it will be good.
  • Make it easy for them to leave you a review – add a direct link if you’re sending an email or a customized dynamic QR code if you’re asking for one in the restaurant.
  • Ask when the time is right – after they’re done with their meal or after they’ve left the restaurant, but only if they look satisfied. Don’t wait too long either, since you want their experience to be fresh.
  • Ask loyal customers – they’re sure to give you 5 stars on the Yelp star rating system since they come to your restaurant often.
  • Follow-up but no more than twice. If they don’t reply to the first request, you can try again in 7 days, and then in another 7.

20. Add a Call to Action Button

Restaurants that add a call to action button to their Yelp page get 33% more views and 38% more leads. Click To Tweet

If you want to direct customers to a custom landing page on your restaurant website like a table booking form, a coupon, or an online order form, you can use Yelp’s Call to Action button.

Get Your Own Sales Optimized Website Just 9$/month!

Pick any action you want for $60 a month and set up a button on mobile, as well as web.

yelp call to action offer

benefits of yelp for businesses: call to action button

21. Offer Deals and Gift Certificates

On your Yelp business page, you can also offer customers deals and gift certificates they can redeem immediately. The deals are discounts that you choose. For gift certificates, you can select one or more price options.

For each discount customers claim, Yelp gets 30% and you get 70%. For every gift certificate, Yelp gets 10% and you get 90%.

yelp deal setupoffer yelp gift certificate

22. Consider Page Upgrades

This is a fairly new feature that can help you boost your Yelp restaurant marketing effort. There are 4 options included in this package, and you can purchase them separately or together for a bigger discount.

upgrade your yelp business page

First, you can choose some badges such as “family-friendly” or “locally-owned” to display on your profile as highlights. These will tell people what you’re most proud of.

yelp business page highlights

Then, you can create a slideshow featuring the best photos of your restaurant. The photos you choose will appear first on your page and in searches, so you control what people see.

create a yelp business slideshow

If you don’t want competitor ads on your page, you can hide them if you pay $2/day (or more for the full package).

eliminate yelp competitor ads

If you want to add an action button at the very bottom of your restaurant page, you can do that as well. Invite customers to redeem a voucher or to call you, making it easy for them to interact with you.

yelp call to action button

23. Take Advantage of Yelp Advertising for Restaurants

Yelp Advertising Statistics

  • In 2018, there were 194,000 local advertisers on Yelp.
  • Businesses that advertise with Yelp generate an average annual revenue of more than $23,000 from that alone.
  • 80% of all Yelp searches and 76% of all clicks on Yelp ads come from mobile devices.

Yelp Advertising Opportunities

To get started with advertising on Yelp, go to Yelp Ads in your Biz menu. The first thing you’ll be directed to do is to write the ad text, then click “Next” and choose your ad budget. Here is an example of an ad you could run for an Italian restaurant.

how can you advertise on yelp

In terms of Yelp advertising cost, the options are $10/day, $15/day (this is the one they recommend for restaurants), $25/day, and setting your own budget if you are more experienced with advertising. All of these costs are average and they also provide you with a month maximum, as well as an approximate number of clicks you’ll get a month for each option.

You also have the option to get an upgrade package for an extra $4/day, which gets you an enhanced profile and business highlights. You can also get Yelp Connect for $1/day to post updates on your Yelp restaurant page.

While it’s true that you only pay for the clicks you get, you get an embarrassingly low number of clicks for the money, in my opinion. When we selected the $15/day Yelp ads pricing option, their estimated number of monthly clicks was 41. However, you can cancel the ad whenever you want and you don’t have to worry about it going over the monthly limit.

yelp advertising cost

On the next page, you get a summary of what you selected and you can input the payment information to start advertising on Yelp.

Yelp Ads Tips

  1. Write a compelling ad text – Keep it short and to the point and give customers a reason to click on it (a statistic, a benefit, a surprising fact). You can also choose a snippet of text from your best review if you’re feeling uninspired.
  2. Customize the ad with distance targeting – Establish exactly where you want your ad to show to make sure you don’t waste money showing it to the wrong people.
  3. Choose a nice photo – Pictures speak louder than words so make yours as persuasive as possible. Hungry customers are going to be tempted by a mouth-watering image of a pizza or a delicious-looking picture of a decadent dessert.
  4. Consider the enhancements based on your business goals – Not all restaurants will benefit from Yelp’s advertising program equally. Before making any decision, think about what your goals are and how (or if) Yelp ads can help you accomplish them.
  5. Always keep track of your ad’s progress – You can do that in the ad dashboard/ad analytics. This way, if the ad is not returning as many clicks as you’d hoped, you can turn it off or adjust it accordingly.

Related: 3 Secret Menu Writing Tips: The BEST Food Descriptions that Make You Hungry

Yelp Advertising Complaints

There are a lot of Yelp ad success stories out there, but plenty of negative experiences as well. Why? A lot of owners say that Yelp’s sales team calls them constantly to ask them to advertise with Yelp, and if they refuse, their rating mysteriously goes down, negative reviews appear on their profile, or positive reviews are filtered so as not to count in the ranking.

A lot of Yelp’s revenue comes from advertising, and at this point, they are more of an advertising and sales company than they are an online directory. Since they understand the importance of their Yelp score, a lot of business owners feel like they don’t have a choice but to advertise with Yelp even though they don’t really want to, and that is their main complaint.

Google vs Yelp Advertising

With so many platforms you can advertise on as a restauranteur, it’s normal to wonder which is the best advertising platform. Yelp’s fiercest competitor is Google Ads, so we decided to compare the two’s most relevant features to help you decide.

google vs yelp advertising comparison

24. Use Yelp Analytics to Track Your Success

You can find your Yelp analytics information right at the top of your business page under the Activity tab. This is where you can see how many profile views and customer leads you got, as well as your revenue estimate.

Customer leads can mean mobile calls, website clicks, deals sold, messages, and more. For the revenue estimate, they use the following equation: Customer Leads × Average customer spend × Visits per customer × Lead conversion rate = Estimated Revenue.

You have to input the average customer spend per visit, how many visits per customer a year, and what percentage of leads actually become customers to get an estimate.

The good news is you can select the time period in which you want to review the data. This analytics tab is a great way to keep track of your progress on Yelp. It helps you see whether investing time and/or money in the platform is worthwhile.

25. Get a People Love Us on Yelp Sign

Unfortunately, you can’t just get one of these signs. You have to earn it. Yelp sends these signs twice a year to businesses that qualify. This sticker is similar to TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and a lot of businesses are after it.

So, what can you do to get one? Provide a great service, ask for reviews, and engage with your customers on Yelp. If you get a high rating, you also have a chance to get the sticker. Yelp hasn’t disclosed how they choose the businesses that qualify, but one can assume it has to do with these factors.

Do I need to manage my own Yelp account?

If you’re too busy managing your day-to-day restaurant operations and you don’t have time to grow your Yelp account too, you can hire someone to do it for you. Thankfully, you can grant them permission to your Yelp business page without sharing your password.

How to Share Access to Yelp Business Page

To provide a third party access to your restaurant’s Yelp page, go to your account settings and click on User Management in the left-hand side menu. Then, click on the Invite a User button and enter their email address. If you have more than one restaurant location, you can select which ones you want to grant access to.

how to grant access to your yelp page

After you’ve sent the invite and the user has accepted it, they can start making changes to your profile such as responding to reviews, uploading photos or making purchases. Since this third party will have access to your ad funds as well, be careful who you trust to manage your Yelp business profile.

This is also a viable solution in case someone from the Yelp Partner Program gets in touch with you regarding the possibility of them managing your Yelp advertising campaign.

How to Transfer Ownership of Yelp Business

If you prefer to transfer complete ownership to the person managing your Yelp account (although we don’t recommend that) or if you sold your restaurant and want to transfer the profile to the new owner, you have to contact the Yelp support team.

Bottom Line

The world may never 100% know whether Yelp is actually good for business or not, but since we live in an age where most people look for reviews of restaurants online before visiting them, owners should embrace the visibility and opportunities that platforms such as Yelp give them.

We aimed to provide you with the most effective tips you can use to create a powerful Yelp restaurant marketing campaign. Implement these Yelp best practices ASAP and you have the chance to stand out in the crowd of restaurants on Yelp.

Do you have any experience with Yelp as a restaurant owner/manager? Send us a message and tell us your story!

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.

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