How Can You Improve Your Ratings On Yelp?

Ah, Yelp. On the one hand, the Internet’s most helpful resource for reviews of restaurants, hotels, and service providers. On the other hand, an unpredictable and capricious pain point for businesses.

If you’ve been in business long enough, you probably know what we’re talking about. While your customers may love Yelp, you might have run into trouble with an inaccurate or unfair review that seems impossible to edit or dispute.

Luckily, you’ve found this article. Here, we’ll talk you through some tried-and-tested techniques for improving your Yelp ratings by almost 30%.

Why do customers use Yelp?

Yelp is rarely your clients’ primary touchpoint. In other words, they probably aren’t finding out about your treatment services by visiting Yelp. Instead, they are much more likely to either search for addiction treatment and visit your website via a PPC ad or interact with your brand on social media first.

But Yelp does a play a role for customers when they are considering their options. In fact, our research indicates that customers who are shopping for roughly 3 weeks without choosing a provider will frequently turn to Yelp for help making their decision. At the same time, clients who are considering more than $10,000 worth of services also frequently turn to Yelp for reviews.

In our experience, clients who turn to Yelp in their decision-making may take up to 6 to 8 weeks to make a final decision. They are careful customers who have time to make a major decision.

What challenges do businesses face on Yelp?

The main challenge facing businesses on Yelp is the site’s policy towards reviews. Once a user has made a review on the site, Yelp will side with the reviewer nearly 100% of the time, even if the review is inaccurate.

We’ll discuss how to deal with that issue below.

There are other challenges facing business owners on Yelp, as well. For example, asking customers to leave reviews of your business while they are connected to your facility’s Wi-Fi will trigger the site’s algorithm, preventing the reviews from being posted.

While these steps are positive for users and try to keep the site a level playing field, they can be frustrating for businesses who suffer from inaccurate or libelous reviews that they can’t remove.

Are there any solutions?

Luckily, we’ve found a few reliable solutions for making Yelp work better for your business. While we can’t guarantee all these techniques will work for you, they can give you a better-than-average chance of succeeding under Yelp’s policies.

Invite your mailing list to leave reviews.

As we mentioned above, asking your clients to leave reviews while still inside your facility is a red flag for Yelp. Instead, reach out to your recent alumni mailing list and ask them to leave honest, unbiased reviews on Yelp.

This will avoid the Wi-Fi connection restriction while still engaging your alumni whose experiences are likely fresh in their mind.

One caveat for this method: if you’re concerned that certain alumni may be disgruntled, struggling with relapse, or dissatisfied, best to leave them off your outreach list. You may want to engage with those clients via different means.

Flag and report libelous reviews—but follow these steps.

If someone has left a clearly false review about your business, you can take steps to address the issue with Yelp. And if you follow the steps we’ve outlined below, you have a decent chance of having the review removed.

The first step is to flag the review, which brings it to the attention of the Yelp moderators.

The second step is to report the review, which opens up a window in Yelp asking you to categorize the reason why you are doing so. Be careful here, as selecting the wrong category will typically lead Yelp to ignore your request.

If the review includes any personal names of your staff or clients and other personal details that might violate HIPAA regulations or threats, slurs, and other volatile language, you should report the review in violation of Yelp’s review policy.

Reviews that have been marked as violations are removed roughly 80% of the time, whereas other categories of reviews are removed about 30% of the time.

Just because a review is negative doesn’t mean that it is a violation of Yelp’s policy. We’ll talk about how to handle negative reviews below.

Respond to every negative review.

Write it in marker on your desk: respond to every negative review of your business on Yelp, 100% of the time.

The reason this is so important is two-fold: one, it helps you mitigate any damage done to your brand by an unhappy or disgruntled reviewer (or sometimes a reviewer who has never attended your treatment program at all) and two, it helps other reviewers see that you are engaged with what is being said about your business.

When writing a response to a negative review, use neutral, calm language and try to understand the point of view of the reviewer. Yelp isn’t the right forum for discussing the details of the review. It’s better to offer to reach out to the reviewer or invite them to contact you directly to discuss their issues further.

Don’t try to be perfect.

Take a deep breath when you’re confronted with a bad review or you see your overall rating dip on Yelp. Research indicates that users are less likely to trust a business with a rating above 4.5 stars, seeing them as “too perfect” and thus suspicious.

So don’t sweat every detail on Yelp. Understand its usefulness and limitations as a tool and you’ll be just fine.

"Our experience with them has been outstanding."

— Terry K., President & Founder PCH Treatment Center

"They captured our philosophy and essence better than I could have imagined."

— Steve M., CEO, People Inc.

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