What are people saying about your construction company? What’s the word on the street?

Go to Yelp and find out.

Yelp is one of the largest user-generated review sites on the internet. People go to Yelp and leave reviews for businesses of all sorts: restaurants, auto repair joints, accountants—and, yes, contractors.

It’s word of mouth in the Internet Age.

What is Yelp?

Yelp started in 2004 by focusing strictly on restaurant reviews. It caught on quickly. Everybody was going to Yelp and asking “What should I eat?” It worked so well for restaurants, that the people behind Yelp decided to expand. Yelp boasts 142 million unique monthly visitors a month—generating more traffic than YellowPages.com and WhitePages.com, so it’s a great way to convert prospects into customers.

With trusted local business information, photos, and review content, Yelp provides a one-stop platform for consumers to discover, connect and transact with local businesses of all sizes by making it easy to request a quote, join a waitlist or make a reservation, and make an appointment or purchase.

Yelp has many detractors, though. Many small businesses openly complain about Yelp. “The review filtering is blocking all my good reviews!” some say. Yelp’s review filtering algorithm tries to ferret out “phony” reviews—for example, reviews planted by family and friends.

Also, small businesses have complained that Yelp is overly aggressive in selling its premium services. Some businesses are upset that Yelp doesn’t allow them to ask people for reviews. (What do they allow? They allow you to display your badge/widget on your website and at your place of business. The widget links to your Yelp profile. They also are happy to give you Yelp decals, which you can post on your windows at your place of business.) What’s worse, some businesses complain that unless a customer has used Yelp three to five times in the past, their reviews will never show up!

How Yelp works

Here’s how it works. After visiting any business, customers can rate their experience and leave their comments on Yelp. Businesses are given a star rating of one to five, one being the lowest. Once a review is written, it’s public and open for everyone to read. The idea is to help people to make educated decisions based on the completeness and conviction of the reviews combined with the credibility of the reviewer. These reviews are what is known as “social proof” in the world of digital marketing.  The reviews allow customers to tell their side of your story—unfiltered—showing you’re a good choice for their next construction job.

  • First off, create—or “claim,” to use Yelp’s lingo—your business page on Yelp. You may find you already have a page! Customers are allowed to create pages for businesses they want to post a review about. To claim your business page, enter your company’s name into Yelp. Yelp will search its database for your business. If you already have a listing, you can claim it. If it doesn’t, just click “Add to Yelp for free.”
  • Now it’s time to “optimize” your Yelp page by filling in all your business details, such things as address, phone, hours, email address. You can also add photos—both of your storefront and of finished projects! Then categorize your page. There are 22 main categories and hundreds more subcategories on Yelp.
  • Complete your “About Your Business” section. This is a way to get that “extra” information in that shows how you separate yourself from the competition. You have 1,500 characters to explain to prospects that you’re the go-to local contractor.
  • People can find almost any type of local business on Yelp. They use the search bar near the top of the Yelp homepage to search for key terms (e.g., burger, plumber, delivery/takeout or the name of a specific business). Also, they use the location bar to set the geographic region they want to search (e.g., city, neighborhood or your current location). Yelk then displays the businesses that best match the person’s search term. The more positive reviews you receive, the higher your ranking in this list of results. The higher the ranking, the more it says “This business is the best.” For example, here’s the results page for “contractors-remodeling” in Grand Rapids.
  • Respond to reviews. The reviews on Yelp help you understand what customers think of your business. You can respond to customer reviews, both positive and negative, through a private message (this is best with a negative review) or by posting a public comment that everyone can see. What should you do if you get a negative review? First off, don’t take it personally. Use the review as an opportunity to avoid making the same mistake twice. Most people will reverse their review if they feel the company has responded to their review professionally.
  • A basic Yelp page is free but the platform also offers premium features. For example, for a dollar a day, you can add a Call To Action button, inviting visitors to book an appointment or obtain a quote. Also for a dollar a day, your can remove the “You Might Also Consider” section, which features links to your competitors.

Wrapping up

The goal of contractor marketing is to position yourself as the expert you are in your service area. In today’s competitive business environment, with online searching becoming the prevalent way of finding service companies, the new “word-of-mouth” referral method has become online reviews via Yelp. Consumers searching for home-service contractors are finding Yelp reviews especially helpful in making selections. If your business isn’t being represented on Yelp, you are at a disadvantage. In fact, to illustrate the impact star ratings have for businesses, Entrepreneur.com cited a study showing one out of three customers were dissuaded from patronizing a business when there was less than a 4-star rating. Get started on Yelp today!






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