In a post-Pigeon-update universe, a strong Yelp presence is an important component of a business’ online strategy. A complete Yelp page has benefits beyond Yelp – it also boosts your SEO.

A Bright Local study found that 91% of consumers turn to review sites to determine if a local business is a good business. With 9 out of 10 people turning to a review site before deciding to spend money with a business, it’s important to understand how to effectively set yourself up for success.

People turn to local directories like Yelp because of the social proof provided by other users in the form of reviews.

The customer search experience is no longer a linear journey.

Users look at a business’s owned media with a dubious eye. They know that you are able to say whatever you want about yourself on the spaces you control. The trust in your brand promise is based on the social proof given by independent individuals.

9 out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as they trust peer to peer recommendations.  There is no virality with Yelp reviews and there is no short shelf-life. Yelp’s data about your reputation spreads way beyond Yelp itself. Siri, Apple Maps, and other systems use Yelp ratings in the search results served to users.

Yelp is a tool for the people who’s loyalty is up for grabs.

Google’s Pigeon update loves Yelp.

A majority of Yelp users are over the age of 35 and have disposable income. On average Yelp users make over $100k per year.

82 % of people Yelp when they intend to buy.

Get More Tips on turning negative reviews into wins for your business.

Discoverability on Yelp also impacts your visibility in SEO.

Authenticity always wins on Yelp. Write up your local business in a way that will enchant users.

Don’t just use photos of your business or product. Include photos of the staff, the wonderful people customers will encounter when they do business with you.

Doing a great job at what you do has far more influence on positive Yelp reviews than any amount of advertising.

6 out of 10 people expect to get a response to their reviews. 1 out of 10 reviewers actually get a response from businesses.

1 star reviewers do not close down businesses. The customers that have a bad experience, walk away, and never give a business feedback are the customers that close down businesses.

You improve your chances of getting an upgraded review by 33% when you respond to negative reviews within 24 hours.

Public responses to reviews are also good for marketing.

John Carroll is the Manager of Business Outreach at Yelp. He hosts informational sessions with local business owners across North America to educate them on best practices for navigating the world of online reviews. He works with local business owners interested in utilizing Yelp to help grow their business. He also hosts a series of webinars on subjects relevant to business owners and regularly contributes content to Yelp’s “Blog for Business Owners.” John also acts as a liaison between the small business community and different divisions within Yelp.