View our ten steps to quickly launching your pet business.
Step #: Sign-up for a free YELP listing.
Why should dog walkers sign up for a YELP listing?
Pet parents who search on Google and YELP have buyer intent. They are looking to make a purchase. On the other hand pet parents on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) are usually looking to relax and watch cute videos.
A lot of people still use YELP and being on YELP is a signal to Google too. Just like with Google make sure you add content for every area YELP allows you to. You can sign-up for your free YELP business listing here.
How to Create a YELP page for your Dog Walking Business in 7 Steps
If you have ever scoured the internet looking for unbiased reviews of a business only to shortly become lost in rage and confusion, you actually are experiencing something similar to the inspiration that led to the creation of YELP. If you have never heard of it before, YELP is a business review website that was founded in 2004 by former PayPal employees Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons. The pair wanted to create a reliable recommendation service after encountering difficulty finding something online to help connect them with a local doctor in L.A. According to one of the founders, the website got its name because it was short and easy to spell, along with being a novel combination on the words “help” and “Yellow Pages” whose local services space the website was entering.
But what if you are a small business owner and all of this is new for you? What is YELP? How does YELP for businesses work and is it useful for professionals like dog walkers? For the answers to those questions, and more, you’ve come to the right place. Please read on for everything you need to know on how to create a YELP page for your dog walking or any other type of small business.
- How does YELP for Businesses Work?
- How to Claim A Business On YELP
- Everything You Need to Know About YELP Reviews
- How Much Does YELP Cost a Business?
- Advertising on YELP
- Optimizing Your YELP Listing
- Is Yelp Worth it for Dog Walkers?
How does YELP for Businesses Work?
If you’re unfamiliar with YELP, it is one of the premier customer review platforms online. A business’s aggregate YELP score can sink or float their fortunes.
So, clearly having a good YELP presence is a vital marketing tool for any small business owner, but how can you use YELP’s platform to your advantage as a dog walker?
Well, for dog walkers in particular the need for a good YELP presence is even more important, as customers are trusting you with caring for what is often their most prized possession, their pet dog. It is in this case that the reviews on platforms such as YELP hold most value as an independent marker of your trustworthiness as a dog walker.
Please read on below for a more detailed answer, but in short:
How does YELP for Businesses Work?
While there is room for some tomfoolery on the platform, in general, having a good professional presence on YELP is almost a prerequisite for any business in today’s digital age.
How to Claim A Business On YELP
Now that we know how important YELP can be for any small business, how can we go about ensuring we have the best possible YELP experience? The first step is creating a business account on YELP. This is a crucial first step to take as it will allow you to have greater control over your business on the platform, in fact it is necessary step to claim your business if you haven’t yet done so.
Steps to Creating a Business Account on YELP
YELP says that the best time to open your business account is when your business has begun to actually operate, though you can register up to a month before your expected opening, if you should choose to do so.
- Go to biz.yelp.com to access the platform’s business features and to set-up your account.
- Find your business by zip code, name, or address, if you can’t find your business click the “add new” button and fill in your business’s details.
- At this point, you can create a free business owner account by simply providing a password and email to sign up.
- Be sure you use an email you have access to and check regularly as this will be a primary means of keeping up with your customers on YELP*
- You will be prompted with a verification code either by email or phone, enter the code to verify your business. The entire verification process may take a few business days, so plan accordingly.
Once you have completed the above steps you are ready to move on to claiming your business, which we will detail below.
Claiming Your Business On YELP
Once you have set-up your YELP business account, claiming your business is as easy as heading over to biz.yelp.com and searching for it. Once you’ve found it simply claim it.
If you can’t find your business, it may still be pending approval, be sure to wait before submitting a new business listing, as submitting multiple requests can slow down the approval process.
You also may run into issues claiming your business if someone else has previously claimed your business. In this case they would be the original account owners and would have ultimate control over the YELP account. This person may choose to invite others to help use and manage the account, but YELP cannot provide the personal details of the original YELP account holder. So, you will need to find out this information internally first if there is a problem.
Everything You Need to Know About YELP Reviews
Now that you have set-up your business account and claimed your business it is time to concern yourself with the platforms primary use, customer reviews. As a business owner it can be hard not to obsess over your customer reviews, after all, who doesn’t want to provide the best possible services to their patrons? With that in mind let’s look at some common trouble spots most small business owners have when it comes to YELP reviews.
Tips on Combating Negative Reviews
One of the largest problems a business has always faced is how to deal with unhappy customers. This has always been true and remains true on review sites such as YELP.
If your business has trouble with negative reviews, try taking the following steps:
- Openly communicate and respond to negative reviews from disappointed customers and try to make things right. While there is no guarantee that a disgruntled customer will change their review after you reach out to them in an attempt to rectify the matter, customers do have the ability to update their review after the fact, and the larger community will certainly recognize and appreciate your efforts.
- Be an available presence on your YELP page, this is as important as keeping a tidy storefront or professional appearance. This can be as simple as making sure there are no unanswered questions on your business’s profile.
- Take the time to look at your reviews for helpful constructive criticism. For example, if customers complain about the poor timing of events in their reviews maybe you should look into streamlining your business practices to maximize customer satisfaction and address any cyclical issues that you may have noticed.
Reporting False and Defamatory YELP Reviews
If you think that your YELP listing has become the victim of fraudulent or false reviews there are a few steps you should take, including reporting the review to YELP immediately.
While not every negative or bad review qualifies for removal, YELP usually chooses to remove a review for one of three main reasons:
- The reviewer has a conflict of interest, such as owning a rival establishment or if they are an embittered former employee. The opposite is also not allowed in that current employees and owners should refrain from writing reviews of their own establishments.
- The review in question doesn’t focus on an actual firsthand experience. This is usually the case when an establishment receives unflattering media coverage and an accompanying barrage of negative reviews. Other examples would be if the review primarily focuses on other customers’ experience or an experience at a separate establishment altogether.
- A review may also be removed if it is found to contain hate speech, is harassing or abusive, or contains the personal information of employees or other patrons.
If you feel that any of the above situations apply to you, be sure to report such reviews and behavior formally by following the steps outlined by YELP here.
Manipulating YELP Reviews
With livelihoods on the line for most small business owners, and the value of a positive review likewise being worth so much, you may be tempted to attempt manipulating your YELP reviews to gain an advantage over your competition. Not only is the process of buying or paying for reviews ethically and legally dubious, it also goes against YELP’s terms of service and is a sure-fire way to get kicked off the platform if and when your subterfuge is discovered. And this only highlights other reasons you wouldn’t want to fake your reviews which is that such manipulation is easily found by YELP and inauthentic reviews are also noticeable to the public and to actual reviewers who may feel betrayed and angry about the manipulation.
In short, it is much better to build a rapport with your authentic customer base than to try and trick people and hope you get away with it.
Asking for YELP Reviews from Customers
If you can’t buy reviews, is it okay to ask your customers for reviews on YELP? The answer from YELP is that you shouldn’t ask for reviews.
YELP has many reasons for this which they say include the fact that their platform can tell when a review has been solicited and will be discounted as a result and that offering freebies for reviews will turn off customers and may be illegal.
How Much Does YELP Cost a Business?
By now we have illustrated the value that YELP can provide, but that begs the question, how much is all of this going to cost? The truthful answer is that this very much depends on what services you are planning on using YELP for and other factors such as your location and industry.
For a quick a dirty example let’s look at a hypothetical case below.
The Bottomline: How Much Does YELP Cost?
Let’s say you have started your dog walking business and have already created and claimed your business account on YELP. Congratulations those are a great first step and creating and managing a business page should be completely free for all users.
Other services that YELP provides will begin to cost you, however, and as you can see in the examples below the prices can be hard to nail down without first talking to an account manager or ad representative.
The following prices can be thought of as a general guide:
- Call to Action Buttons: Adding these buttons to your YELP profile will cost around $30 dollars a month. Call to Action buttons often include things such as a phone number or a link to your own external website.
- Enhanced Slideshows: A premium photo array is available for use at approximately $30 dollars a month.
- CPC (Cost Per Click) Ads: Ads that will cost you per user interaction, usually a predetermined amount starting at around $0.50 per click.
- Manipulate Ads on Your Competitors Profiles: While this may seem anti-competitive you can actually pay YELP to have your ads appear on a competitor’s profile and likewise block their ads from appearing on your profile. This service normally costs roughly $60 dollars a month.
Just by adding up the sample costs above we can see that a business that relies on YELP for its digital marketing may end up paying roughly $120 dollars a month for a variety of features on the platform. Whether that cost ends up being worth it to you will largely end up depending on the value YELP provides you by way of increased business or customers.
Advertising on YELP
What becomes apparent when looking at the potential costs of using YELP as outlined in the above section is how the platform serves dual purposes, it is both a local business review and recommendation aggregator and also a digital advertising platform. What this ends up meaning in practice is that you may need to end up paying for advertising to break through on the platform, some people think that this is a shady business practice on YELP’s part. However, this is really nothing new when you think about it. Just as a business used to be able to advertise in the Yellow Pages with a full-page ad to stand out from the competition, so too can you on YELP. In fact, if you are a professional like a dog walker this can be very valuable advertising indeed because you are meeting the consumer where they are looking for you.
In order to find out if advertising on YELP is worth it for you, it’s best to look at your own particular industry and circumstances and decide from there.
The following questions can be useful when deciding on whether to advertise on YELP or not:
- Are you in an industry or service that relies on personal trust that could benefit from the independent verification that reviews on YELP can provide?
- Is your industry heavily reliant on YELP as a means of advertising and promotion?
- Does your customer base already appear to be heavy YELP users?
- Is the YELP community a tastemaker in your location?
- Will you have a way of measuring the return on investment that you are getting from putting money into advertising on YELP? This last point is the most important as it will be the only way you will be able to tell if your advertising is working or even worth the money.
Optimizing Your YELP Listing
Just having a YELP listing isn’t going to be enough to ensure a steady draw of new customers, in order for that to happen you will need a fully optimized YELP listing.
For this process it can be helpful to think of your YELP listing as a digital storefront and endeavor to regularly do the following to maintain it:
-Have a plan to respond to reviews, especially negative ones. Ignoring reviews is bad practice and makes your business seem uncaring.
-Make sure your hours of operation are correct and up to date. No one appreciates showing up to a closed business they thought would be open due to incorrect times on a YELP profile. Don’t forget to update with seasonal or holiday hours as needed!
-Don’t leave your “from the business” section blank. It can be intimidating to think of something to write in this space, but what is even more crucial is that you utilize this space to communicate with potential customers. So, try not to stress too much about finding the right words, be cordial and professional and you’ll be fine. YELP has some additional tips for writing this particular section if you are really struggling with ideas.
Is YELP Worth it for Dog Walkers?
In conclusion, is YELP worth it for small business professionals like dog walkers? The answer is a qualified yes, YELP certainly has value with its many free features alone, such as business listings, that give it use for many varied professionals such as dog walkers. The hedge comes in the fact that YELP’s utility will depend largely on another factor such as the individual business’s market and YELP’s local popularity. It is important to consider these factors as well when deciding if YELP is worth it for you.
Accordingly, how can you tell if YELP will be worth it for you? The easiest way is to pay attention to your own data when using the platform. This can be as simple as keeping track of how many leads, or new customers, you get from YELP and what you think they may be costing you. If you find that you receive plenty of positive reviews and attention on YELP without need for additional advertising or functionality than spending money on such features would appear to be a waste. If the inverse is true and you suspect that advertising on YELP would help you stand out amongst your competitors, you can for sure give it a try.
Thus, as a business listing service YELP is highly recommended. Using the platform for this purpose should be free for all business owners and if you are a professional who largely has no fixed location where customers can find you, like a dog walker, your digital presence will be a comforting presence to customers and a benefit to your business.