How to Use Yelp (A Guide for Small Business Owners)

As one of the most popular business directories and review sites on the Internet, Yelp has helped match up millions of consumers with local businesses. In addition, Yelp is a great resource for small business owners to showcase the quality of their products or services. If you are looking to grow your business or implement a new marketing strategy, Yelp is the perfect place to start.

Should Your Business Use Yelp?

As a small business owner, you are probably wondering if Yelp is right for you. While the review site has helped plenty of businesses find new clientele, the platform is well suited for a variety of businesses that offer their services locally, with or without a brick-and-mortar location.

Online-only businesses do not benefit as much from Yelp because much of the platform is dedicated to geolocation marketing. If you don’t have a physical location or are not a local service provider, the Yelp platform can still showcase your business, but may not be as effective at bringing in new customers.

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Creating a Business Profile on Yelp

In order to get the most out of Yelp, you will need to set up a business profile. Fortunately, Yelp’s platform makes this process straightforward, efficient, and stress-free.

Adding and Claiming Your Business

Consumers having the ability to add new businesses and partnerships mean they get businesses onto Yelp all the time even if they are new. However, if you have been open for some time, it is possible that a business page has already been created for you and customers have submitted reviews. In the latter case, you may need to claim your page by searching for your business on Yelp and clicking “claim this business.” From there, you will fill out some additional information to verify that you are the owner.

To start a business page from scratch, simply login to your Yelp account and go to New Business Signup Form and complete the signup form to add your business to Yelp. First, you will enter your zip code and business name. From there, you will provide more information about your business, such as your website, address, and contact information. Once you verify your identity, that’s it! Your business page will be up and running.

Information to Include

To provide potential customers with the necessary information, think about what most people would search for when looking to make a purchase. At the very least, you will want to include your business name, address, contact information (preferably telephone number), and hours of operation. Having this information quickly accessible lets people know where and when they can make a purchase.

In addition to the basic information, adding relevant details helps search engines index your business and point customers in the right direction. Consider writing a detailed description of your business, including an overview of your products and services. This will provide helpful keywords to match up your business with potential customers. For example, if someone is searching for “the best sushi bars with a comfortable lounge near me,” and your description includes the term “sushi bar” and “lounge,” they can easily find you!

Photos to Use

When it comes to marketing your small business, visual appeal plays a key role in customer engagement. Yelp allows you to have one primary photo, if your business has purchased the photo slideshow feature, as well as additional photos to showcase your products, staff, and location.

The kind of primary photo you choose will depend on your business. For example, most restaurants get more traffic when they use a professional photo of an appetizing dish. Similarly, retail shops can show off the best products they have to offer.

However, many businesses simply use a picture of their store as their primary photo. This is particularly effective if you have an interesting sign and well-kept storefront. Having an image of the storefront to reference also helps new customers find your location.

Yelp for Business Owners

Yelp for Business Owners, located at, is the one-stop shop for all of your business account needs. From here, you can check your account settings, edit your business page, set up a marketing campaign, and view your business analytics.

Yelp for Business Owners Features

Yelp provides great deals and special offers for both business owners and customers. If you want to start a marketing campaign through Yelp advertising, the self-service plan allows you to run ads in targeted local areas, premium placements on searches and competitor pages on Yelp's mobile and desktop traffic. This paired with Yelp's advertising analytics are a good way to know how your ads are doing, what's working and what's not.

In addition to self-service advertising, small business owners have access to other a la carte features and paid profile options.

The a la carte features Yelp offers include Yelp Reservations, to help restaurants with table bookings. Another is Yelp Deals, which are prepaid vouchers which will help more customers use your services, and (hopefully) provide positive feedback for your business.

These are the two upgraded profile options, which businesses can purchase with or without ads:

A Branded Profile, which features:

  • Photo slideshows
  • An optional video
  • A call to action feature to give your customers a direct action to take, that directs them to a page on your site

An Enhanced Profile, featuring:

  • All of the features of a branded profile, and
  • The removal of competitor ads

Making the Most Out of Your Business Profile

So you’ve claimed your page, uploaded a photo, and added some information about your business. What’s next?

Create a Plan

Once your business page is ready for public consumption, you need to devise a strategy to get the most out of it. Whether you prefer to take a passive or an active approach to your marketing, Yelp can be of great benefit to your business. If you want to jumpstart your page, consider starting an ad campaign.

One common issue with new business pages is the low number of reviews. At this early stage, even one bad review can tank your star rating and scare away potential customers. If your page is plagued with negative reviews, you will want to reduce its visibility until you can accumulate some positive feedback. Wait to run ad campaigns until after you have some positive reviews. It is also beneficial to reply to negative reviews with thoughtful, personalized responses, showing that you care about customer satisfaction.

Don't Beg For Reviews

Getting reviews can be difficult at first. Many small businesses go unnoticed on Yelp until they have accumulated at least two or three customer reviews.

Getting a handful of positive reviews will get your page off to a great start, but let this happen naturally while being engaged with those that do come in.

While it is tempting to ask your regular customers, family, friends, or offer freebies for reviews, don't, spammy or disingenuous reviews can actually hurt your page’s standing with Yelp’s built-in review algorithm. Aggressive business tactics can also be a turn off for many customers.

For more information, check out Yelp's guide to success.

Be Patient

The excitement of starting a new business page on Yelp often gives way to disappointment. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take time to develop a thriving business page. Focus on providing consumers the best products and customer service possible while also encouraging them to leave feedback. With time, reviews will trickle in, and you will begin to see the results.

Sign Up For Yelp Advertising

Once your business has acquired some positive feedback, it may be time to consider developing an advertising campaign through Yelp. It is easy to sign up for the self-service plan, and there are different a la carte to match the scope and budget of your marketing strategy.

For more information, check out our article about Yelp’s advertising options.


If you own a local small business, it is hard to ignore the visibility and features available with Yelp’s platform.

It's a great space for people to discuss your business and a platform for you to promote yourself directly to local consumers, Yelp offers everything you could want in a business directory. With a little bit of planning and investment, Yelp can take your small business to the next level.