Cue sounds of a broken record…it’s time to talk about your online listings again. We talk about it a lot—the importance of having accurate business information online. That’s because your listings are where your online presence begins and ends.

Having listings (lots of them) with your correct information helps consumers find your business online. It contributes positively to your search rankings, so you show up in local search results more often and at higher positions.

Once you’ve been found and chosen, your customers and clients return to your online listings to leave reviews. These reviews impact your reputation and your ability to win over future prospects.

See what I mean? Listings can really make or break your business.

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About Yelp

One of the most popular online listings and reviews sites (and apps) is Yelp.

Founded in 2004, millions of consumers use Yelp to find local businesses like dentists, hair stylists, handymen and mechanics. In 2018 so far, Yelp’s averaging about 162 million visitors each month via their mobile app, mobile web browsers, and desktop computers. They also have more than 121 million consumer reviews of local businesses.

That’s a lot of Yelpers. And with a lot of Yelpers come a lot of questions and concerns.

Is your business having trouble with your Yelp profile? We compiled the most common issues and how to address them.

Issue: My business name, phone number, address or hours are wrong.

If you went to Yelp expecting to build your profile from scratch, you might have been in for a surprise.

Was there already a listing for your business? If you already have a listing on Yelp, but you know you didn’t put it there, you’re not alone. Don’t worry. You can fix it.

Anyone from consumers, to web crawlers and data miners, and even Yelp representatives could have built a business profile without your knowledge. Yelp’s not the only business listings site that does this. The majority of them, especially Google, rely on data from other sites and consumer input to confirm and build upon information they have for each business.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or claiming an already-existing listing, it’s easy.

Go to Search for your business based on your location, and click Get Started. Once you have an account, you’ll be able to enter (or correct) critical details about your business.

Wondering how to claim your business on Yelp? It’s free, so there’s no excuse not to!

Issue: I keep fixing my information, but it changes back.

There’s a common misconception that claiming your free listing will lock down your Yelp business page from future changes. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

Like I mentioned earlier, business listings sites often rely on third party input to build out business profiles. So if you don’t actively manage your listings and check back often, some of your information could get out of whack without you knowing it.

Also, Yelp will occasionally lock fields on business pages in an attempt to prevent the very errors you’ve found. This usually happens after you (the business owner) fix incorrect information.

But you’re not helpless. If you notice a specific piece of information keeps getting changed repeatedly, there are a couple things you can do to fix the recurring error.

  • From a desktop computer, visit your business information section of your profile. Hover over the round “i” icon next to the field you want to change. A pop-up will show you who to contact to follow up.
  • Use a third-party listings management software like Thryv. Thryv not only helps you lock down your information across sites like Yelp, it also puts all of your online reviews in one place, so you can take action the second a new one comes in.

Issue: I’ve got fake reviews and want to get rid of them.

Every now and then, competitors and disgruntled former employees leave blatantly false reviews on business listings sites. This, of course, goes against Yelp’s policies and general guidelines.

If they do so on your Yelp business page, you have the power to report it and ask Yelp to remove it. Here’s how.

  • Find the fake review.
  • Tap the icon with 3 dots, for More Options.
  • Choose Report Review.
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Yelp will ask you why you want to report the review. When they do, be as specific and detailed as possible. If you have proof that the reviewer is not an actual customer, or that they’re a competitor or former employee, include that in your explanation. Write clearly, and try to leave emotion out of it.

What happens next?

Once you report a review, Yelp will get to work. You can always revisit the review and hover over the flag icon for a status of your report.

When Yelp makes a decision on whether or not they will leave or remove the review, they’ll email you at the business email you used to claim your listing. It may take as long as a week for Yelp to get back to you, so hang in there!

What if you report a review to Yelp and they don’t agree to remove it? You’re not done just yet. Email [email protected] with as many additional, fair details as possible about why you reported the review.

If they still won’t take the review down, don’t fret.

Yelp consumers and searchers can smell a rat pretty easily, especially if they consult reviews often before making purchases. To appeal to them, respond to the fake review, and invite the reviewer to contact you so you can make it right. Even though you know this is unlikely, it will show consumers you’re interested in resolving all issues.

Pro tip: You must have claimed your page to report reviews as the business owner.

Issue: I’ve got negative reviews, and I don’t know what to do.

Negative reviews are nearly unavoidable. Even if you do everything right, you can’t please everybody.

The best way to handle a negative review is to have a plan in place to address it beforehand. That plan usually includes responding to each and every negative review.

When responding to negative reviews online:
  1. Start with a deep breath. If you’re really mad, step away from the computer or phone and come back once you calm down.
  2. Choose a strategy. Will you try to take the conversation offline, or will you use ready-to-go response templates you’ve written in advance?
  3. Draft a response. Use the reviewer’s name if you have it, and include a sincere apology for their bad experience.
  4. Avoid making excuses. If you see too many words like, “but,” “while,” or “usually,” your apology might not seem authentic.
  5. Make it right. Offer something like a discount or freebie the next time they come in. If you don’t want to do that, ask politely for them to return and commit to trying to do better.

Issue: I keep getting calls about advertising.

When you claim a free listing on just about any online listings site, prepare to start getting phone calls. The listings sites, as well as third-party companies, will almost definitely attempt to contact you and sell you additional services like advertising plans and even listings management on other sites.

If a sales representative contacts you about advertising or additional services, you have the right to decline.