Are Yelp Ads Giving Your Business Enough Bang for Your Buck?

At LinkNow Media, one of the questions that we receive most commonly from our clients is whether it is worth advertising with Yelp? In the past, the answer to this question may have been a resounding yes, but in recent years there has been growing concerns about the tangible benefits that can be gained from doing so.

This article will assess the pros and cons of Yelp and provide our readers with a detailed breakdown about whether Yelp should still be the go-to option for small and medium sized businesses in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the biggest issues about Yelp paid subscriptions is that more and more users aren’t sure if it is providing any more leads than their free listings. Again, we will look at the validity of this statement and assess what’s what.

So, What Are Yelp Ads and Can They Help Your Business?

To put it simply, advertising on Yelp follows a similar path to how ad campaigns work on Google and Facebook in that you pay a sum of money and, from there, your ad gets impressions on other company’s profiles. And while it is true that Yelp provides your business with historical metrics about how your ad campaign is doing, the reality is that these advertising metrics are quite limited. One of the biggest problems with Yelp’s ad metrics is that it shows you the number of ad impressions, ad clicks, cost per click and total ad spend, but little to no detail about the audience who has accessed your site or where these ads were viewed from.

One potential positive that Yelp provides is that it will show you visitors to Yelp who are both local to you and looking at your competitors’ profile on their site. However, a major drawback of this aspect of their advertising service is that competitors are defined very widely on Yelp. For instance, anyone in the same category as your business is considered a competitor whether this may be the case or not. So, if you are a home improvement company, your ad would be shown on competitor’s pages who really aren’t your rivals – this list could include anyone from interior designers to landscape architects.

The obvious problem that many small business owners encounter when dealing with Yelp is that they end up paying a lot of money for ads that are not necessarily targeted to customers that are interested in what your business does. This can end up being a very costly and somewhat pointless venture. However, it’s not all bad and there are several benefits that come from advertising your business on Yelp.

First of all, despite the obvious shortcomings of Yelp’s loosely targeted audience parameters, the fact of the matter is that your business will reach a broad audience of customers that are somewhat interested in the service you provide. With an established Yelp profile, you can reach more people who are looking for what you do.

As a business, your goal should be to reach as many people as possible that are looking for your service and, at the end of the day, Yelp’s entire business model is based upon serving people who need a service. It is the knowledge that your ad is being read by those who need work done that defines Yelp’s appeal as a site you should advertise with and a good way of knowing that you are reaching people who need work done. So, in essence, Yelp’s biggest benefit is that it will grow your business’s exposure and allow you to reach customers you may otherwise never reach.

Taking the Lead – Is Yelp What it Used to Be?

One of the biggest problems with Yelp is that it makes it very hard for small businesses and their web design companies to assess what impact their advertising is having. Instead of showing a direct impact on your ad with Yelp, they will instead only show you impressions and clicks on your site but very little else. Now there are signs that this may be changing as Yelp has recently shared the results of an attribution trial that it has piloted, however it remains to be seen if this will transition into a constant part of their business model.

One of the biggest issues with Yelp is that if a business claims their listing on Yelp, then they will be able to see how many mobile calls and clicks were made on their website. However, when you advertise with them, this breakdown isn’t made available and you are unable to obtain how many of these actions—whether clicks, calls or visits—were because of the ad itself.

As mentioned previously, determining your return on investment (ROI) from Yelp can be a difficult task as it is hard to differentiate between the number of visits to your site that were made organically versus ones that occurred directly because of your Yelp ad. The reason for this is because Yelp does not calculate how many total calls you received because of the listing on their site, instead they simply track the total number of calls you received.

On top of that, another issue with Yelp is that many of the calls and clicks that they do to bring people to your site do not transition into real and actual clients. The reason for this is that Yelp includes all calls that you receive but it is often the case that many of these calls will not result in new clients for your business. So, when you remove missed calls without voicemails, wrong numbers, and calls that are looking for a service that your business doesn’t offer, it can greatly reduce this total.

This issue combined with the rising cost of Yelp listings has left many small business owners questioning whether it makes sense to invest in their service. This is especially true as the popularity of Google AdWords continues to rise and has become a credible competitor to Yelp.

Google AdWords – What You Need to Know

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you probably know what Google is. However, what you might not be so sure about is the more recent development known as Google AdWords—so, what’s it all about? In brief, Google AdWords is an advertising service for small businesses seeking to display ads on Google and its wider advertising network.

At LinkNow Media, we work diligently each day to make sure that our clients are as informed as possible about the variety of online ads and lead generating opportunities at their disposal. With that in mind, here are four tips that we think are very important. If small businesses stick to these tips then we believe that they will be successful in gaining a maximum return from their Google AdWords investment:

  • Set a Realistic Budget:One of the first questions that you, as a business owner, need to ask yourself if you are considering investing in a Google AdWords service is how much should you spend on this campaign? When it comes to Google AdWords, the process is highly adjustable, which means that you can make budget decisions that most closely meet your business’s specific needs. By setting a proper budget that you will be able to stick to, you can rest assured that you will be able to see real growth for your online business but at a premium that works for you.
  • Make Sure Your Landing Pages Count: If you think about it, the real value of your Google AdWords strategy will only begin to bear fruit if you have a number of high-quality landing pages in operation beside it. If you want to make sure that your business gets as much value for money from its Google AdWords campaign, then you need to make sure that all your visitors are pushed in the direction of a highly optimized landing page, rather than a non-descript home page that simply isn’t fit for purpose.
  • Take Advantage of Search Reports: One of the best things about Google’s search term reports is that it provides you with information on the intent of the user so that you can target them for more focused and relevant keywords. An additional benefit of search term reports is that they can even do the work for you by generating ideas for new keywords that remove any irrelevant keywords that will not rank well. If you are unsure what long-tail keywords you should be using, then a simple consultation with your web consultant team at LinkNow Media can work with you to generate phrases and terms that are highly targeted and conversion oriented. Once this has been achieved, the number of clicks on your business’s site should see a direct increase too.
  • Pay Attention to Your Ads: The great thing about Google AdWords is that it can provide real and immediate outcomes for your business if the execution is correct. As well as using a range of properly selected keywords, a great tip for Google Adword optimization is to make sure that your ads are attractive to draw in as many new customers as possible. On top of that, ensuring that your headlines are catchy and have strong and clear calls to action is a great way of encouraging new users do what you want them to. Finally, a great way of testing the effectiveness of your ads can be achieved by testing variations of them which can help establish the one with the highest conversion rate.

Yelp Vs.. Google AdWords – What Brings More Value?

While it is true that every business is different, the reality of the situation is that it is important to have a good idea of what online platforms are working best for you and generating the best leads-per-dollar ratio, and which are not. A recent study has found that from a sample of small businesses that were interviewed, the best bang for buck when it came to lead generation was, on occasion, three times higher with Google AdWords as it was on Yelp. Again, it is important to stress that this study was carried out using a relatively small sample size, but the results are nonetheless striking.

If you are a business owner that has used Yelp in the past and found them to be a successful way of bringing new leads to your business then by all means, stick to what has worked. It is also important to note that if your business is one that has a sufficiently high customer life value to justify paying more for a lead than you may elsewhere, then you should do it. However, no matter what you do, it is important that you do not confuse calls with leads because they are two very different things as we have discussed earlier. The quality of the calls is much more important than their frequency and that is why you need to pay particular attention to this fact.

Is Yelp Worth It?

When all is said and done, this is the six-million-dollar question that many small business owners will have to answer for themselves. At LinkNow Media, we will never tell you what to do. Instead, we will only ever advise our commercial clients on what we think is the best course of action for their business’s continued success.

One thing we will say is that if you have already set up a free Yelp profile and have found it beneficial, then you may find similar, if not additional, success with Yelp Advertising. So, if you haven’t set up a Yelp profile, then this seems like a good starting point as it never hurts to have a free online platform advertising your business.

Once you have an established Yelp profile with a number of good reviews set up and are seeing a spike in visits and inquiries from Yelp, then we recommend that you invest a little money, take things slowly and fine-tune your ad to make it even more effective. What you shouldn’t do is throw hundreds or thousands of dollars at a Yelp advertising campaign if you have a new and bare profile as it more than likely won’t bridge the gap sufficiently.

Eve Mendelovitch

Author: Eve Mendelovitch

About Eve Mendelovitch