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Oh, Yelp! The risky, helpful, intimidating, complex and effective world of Yelp.

The goal of Yelp is to connect people with great local businesses. The platform enables customers to review business with ratings and written commentary, in order to showcase real-life experiences with the business in question.

At Sola, you are running your own small local business, so Yelp is a great way to get discovered by customers searching for what you have to offer. Authentic reviews of your work offer new customers a trustworthy and honest glimpse into your work through the eyes of your clients, beyond your controlled branding and marketing efforts. 

Often, we think of Yelp the go-to search engine for restaurants, stores, and entertainment, so we overlook the power of Yelp for beauty professionals running a small business. However, beauty and fitness are actually the 5th largest category on Yelp, making up a significant 11% of the platform's total business.

Yelp offers a space to showcase your studio, brand, photography, menu of services, approval ratings and location in order for customers to get an overview of your vibe, offerings and capabilities. Not only will your returning clients tell your story for you, via Yelp ratings and reviews, but you can also advertise with Yelp for even better search engine optimization (SEO). This means that people will more easily be able to find you in a simple Yelp search.

(@native_hairstylist)

Follow these steps to create and/or improve upon your salon’s presence on Yelp:

1. List Your Business on Yelp

First, you need to make sure that your business is properly listed and optimized for success on Yelp. Not only is it essential to list your business, but to also ensure that your business is easily visible in a search.

Go to biz.yelp.com to create your business owner account and profile. Right off the bat, you must take the time to set up your account as accurately and completely as possible. The more robust your profile is, the more seriously your business will be taken by potential new clients. If a client has to work to discover what you offer and what you are all about, they may simply leave your page in search of a more complete Yelp listing that provides more information.

Fill in your business name, contact information and business category specifics. Do not skip over the category set up, as these categories and tags (i.e. hairstylist, makeup artist, nail salon, massage therapist, etc.) will help customers to find you in a search. The more specific you are, the better their search results will be in finding you.

Build out your profile by adding photos of yourself, your studio and/or your work and include your salon’s hours, address, website, phone number, services, specialties, promotions and any booking details.

(@dianaanteshair)

Be patient. Once you have filled in all the details, it may take a day or two for your business to be approved by Yelp. Once you are approved, Yelp will send you an email that will give you access to your listing.

2) Already See Your Salon? Claim Your Business on Yelp

When you visit Yelp, you may find that a business page for your salon already exists. Do not be alarmed! You were not hacked and there is not somebody stealing your salon identity.

This has likely happened because a client made a page in order to review your salon. If that is the case, you can claim your profile by going to biz.yelp.com/claiming.

3) Attracting Yelp Reviews

Once you have a profile set up, it is time to start thinking about your reviews. The more reviews your salon has, the more likely a new customer is to find you in a search and trust your rating. With more than 192 million reviews on Yelp to date - let’s make sure that some of those voices are singing your praises too. Think of Yelp as a wonderful space where your clients can speak to all the hard work that you do.

It is best to get reviews organically, without specifically requesting them from your clients. On Yelp’s blog, they dissuade businesses from directly asking for reviews from happy customers, but it is not against their Terms of Service to do so. 

(@ginasalonstudio30_)

You can encourage clients to write reviews by putting up a subtle sign in your salon that asks for a positive Yelp review if they are happy with their service. You might also provide a Yelp review link on your website or booking platform for easy access to your Yelp page.

If you are feeling comfortable with a loyal client, you can always make a gentle, in-person, verbal request for a Yelp review. Your best clients will be happy to support you in growing your business.

3) Responding to Yelp Reviews

It’s important to stay up-to-date on your customer reviews and feedback. Schedule time to check in on your Yelp reviews at least once a week. First, focus on the positive by copying the exceptional reviews and adding them as highlighted testimonials on your website to amplify the reach of these positive reviews.

(@thehungryhairdresser)

Next, make sure to respond on Yelp to all of your reviews – both the positive and the not-so-positive. When you respond to a positive review, you can communicate with people who had a great experience, giving thanks or complimenting their new look. These nice personal touches express appreciation and acknowledge your client for going out of their way to support your business. This personal interaction may just turn them into a loyal client.

(@ginasalonstudio30_)

And, if the platform gets the best of you and you get some not-so-satisfactory feedback? Remember, even the best businesses get bad reviews. It is an unfortunate reality that you won’t get sparkling reviews from absolutely everyone – even if the service was faultless. Use the feedback to grow and evolve your business! Make it right with that customer however you can and move forward with the resolution to do better next time. Ultimately, it is better to know than not know what your clients are thinking, so take the information with a grain of salt.

It is a good policy to respond to any negative reviews that you receive.

Yelp suggests that business owners remember three things as they craft responses to reviews:

1. Your reviewers are your paying customers.

2. Your reviewers are real human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities.

3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)

You must treat customers writing reviews with patience, compassion, and flexibility. Even if you do not want to work with them again, you are building an online reputation with Yelp, and other customers will be able to view how you handle difficult reviews with grace.

So when you’re responding, do so diplomatically. Acknowledge the criticism, assert that you are taking steps to improve, and invite the reviewer to return (if and only if you truly want them to return). You can also send the reviewer a private message to discuss the issue further if you think they deserve any kind of compensation, explanation or do-overs.

Just remember, do not get defensive or accusatory. Even if you feel that your salon is being falsely or unfairly reviewed, respond politely and professionally. Always take the high road because your responses on Yelp are out there for the world to see.

4) Dealing with Bad Yelp Review and Internet Trolls

Despite all your diplomacy and patience, you may still get into a pickle with an irrational client or an internet troll on Yelp. You know the ones - haters that are just determined to bring down your rating. You may not even know them, or perhaps they are delusional in their fury. Unfortunately, it takes 40 positive reviews to overcome one negative rating on Yelp, so this can become a serious problem if the review is not true to reality.

If you truly feel that a reviewer has been defamatory or untruthful in their reviews and comments, you do have the opportunity to dispute the review with Yelp. Yelp will assess the situation and decide whether or not they will allow the review in question to remain on the site.

Of course, it is best to strive for all positive Yelp reviews. The best way to ensure that is by providing a consistently great experience for your clients!

5) Advertising with Yelp

If you think you have maximized your Yelp efforts and would still like to boost your visibility, reach and conversions on Yelp, it is time to explore Yelp advertising opportunities for your business.

Yelp Ads feature your business when consumers search for a business/service like yours, increasing traffic to your listing. Yelp Ads makes your business more prominent to customers looking to make a purchase by improving the visibility of your listing in a variety of places, including on relevant search result pages and on competitor business pages on Yelp.

According to Yelp, 82% of Yelp users visit Yelp with the intention to buy a product or service. 89% of those users who buy, do so within a week. This makes Yelp advertising quite effective in reaching potential new clients who are primed for making a purchase. In addition, Yelp offers specifically targeted advertising so that you can reach not just any audience, but the audience best suited to your services.

To learn more about opportunities for targeted, local ads to new customers, click here.

As you can see, Yelp is a fabulous platform for service providers to showcase their offerings and a powerful marketing tool for new clients to discover your salon. You are already offering superior services and stellar customer service - so what are you waiting for? Hop to it and you’ll have that 5-star rating in no time.

 
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