If you don’t know Yelp from a business listings or marketing perspective, you probably have used it as a consumer. If you’ve ever searched for a new dinner spot near you or used an app to find a new happy hour bar before 5 p.m. rolls around, it was most likely Yelp that helped you out.

Yelp is a website and mobile application that helps consumers connect with local businesses – it’s what we’d refer to as an online business listings site. Most notably, Yelp is known for its consumers ratings and reviews feature, wherein consumers can provide in-depth feedback on their experiences with local businesses.

Is Yelp an effective marketing tool?

According to them, 78% of consumers turn to review sites to find a local business. So on the surface, Yelp should be a great place to funnel your advertising dollars. For a set cost per click, businesses can purchase premium visibility in local searches until a preset spending limit is maxed out. Yelp offers 3 options:

  • Targeted local advertising
  • Premium placement on search and competitor business pages
  • Presence on mobile and desktop devices

But tread lightly. When we quickly research “Yelp vs. Google Adwords,” Yelp isn’t exactly the clear winner for pay-per-click advertising.

Why it could work for your business:

  • Yelp provides some metrics to help you evaluate your ad spend, including page views and ad clicks.
  • Some businesses are poised to benefit more than others with Yelp, for example those that provide urgent services or rely heavily on local reviews – like healthcare providers and restaurants.

Why it might not work for your business:

  • Most studies show Yelp reporting a much higher cost per click and cost per lead than competitors like Google Adwords. (That means a lower return for you. No thank you.)
  • Yelp would prefer you to set up a 12-month contract, whereas Google does not require contracts.
  • Since Yelp doesn’t report on which keywords are driving customers to click your ads, and Google does, Google leads are likely to be much more qualified. And, you can better optimize future ads with this data.

Regardless of whether you choose to advertise on Yelp, they are a big player in the local business market. So they pay really close attention to local businesses. Lucky for us, they share the insights they get with the public.

BONUS CONTENT: Yelp’s 2017 Survey of Local Businesses

Each year, Yelp conducts a survey of more than 1,100 Yelp-listed small businesses across America. As they put it, this survey helps them get a better look at what makes 99.7% of all employers (that’s you!) in the U.S. “tick.”

Their survey revealed a common theme:

  • American business owners are optimistic, on the whole.
  • Of those surveyed, Millennials and minorities are most optimistic about business in 2017.

It also revealed some common challenges among business owners:

  • 57% of businesses cited attracting and retaining customers as their biggest challenge.
  • 35% of businesses cited a limited marketing budget as their biggest challenge.
  • 31% of businesses cited competition from larger businesses as their biggest challenge.
  • 25% of businesses cited attracting and retaining employees as their biggest challenge.

What are you doing about it?

Since the challenges listed above are common among local businesses, there most likely aren’t many quick fixes available. To maintain momentum this year, we recommend evaluating the list above and choosing which of the 4 is your biggest challenge this year. Avoid the temptation to “boil the ocean” and fix everything at once. Instead, tackle the biggest issue first. It may take a few months, or it may take you through year-end to feel like the issue is resolved.

Then, move on to the next challenge. So on, and so forth.

Need help along the way?

Wondering where to start? Our company takes tools the big brands use (tools that help them streamline business so they can focus on challenges like those listed above) and makes them accessible to local businesses like yours. Click the box below to learn more.