Are Yelp Ads a Smart Investment for Your Business?

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Are Yelp Ads a Smart Investment for Your Business?

Let’s get it out of the way right away shall we? Are Yelp ads worth your time and money? The answer, at least for most businesses, is yes. Yelp Ads are actually well worth your investment. They can help you grow website traffic, business leads and even potentially grow your sales all from a single, low cost online advertising campaign. 

With that being said, there are certainly a few industries where another ad channel may be a better fit (we’ll touch on that later) but for the most part Yelp is a great option to find people already intent on purchasing.

But How? Why? Who cares about Yelp? Let’s explore.

What Are Yelp Ads?

First things first, what are “Yelp Ads” – is that a dog barking or something? Yelp.com is a website and mobile app that publishes crowd-sourced reviews about all types of businesses – think Google Reviews. And Yelp Ads are Yelp.com’s advertising platform. Unlike the ads you see on Google however, ads displayed on Yelp are only used by businesses – mostly local. This means it’s the easiest place to find a business if you’re looking for a particular product or service. Google may always be the largest search engine but Yelp, as a local search tool, is more focused. People go to Yelp looking to find the right business and Yelp Ads can help you get discovered by more people. And, in turn, get you more customers.

What types of people are using Yelp?

But wait, you may be asking, does anyone actually even use Yelp? It turns out, yes, quite a lot of people actually. Yelp’s latest numbers state that over 80+ million people per month use Yelp to search for a business. And people don’t come to Yelp just to browse — they’re ready to purchase. 97% of people make a purchase after visiting Yelp, with 90% purchasing within a week and 51% within a day according to Yelp’s own internal research survey. Yelp.com currently touts over 265 million cumulative reviews for those businesses which is good for second most user generated reviews online – trailing only Google.

A natural second question would be “but isn’t Yelp just for restaurant reviews?” – nope. In fact, if you look at the chart below there may be some surprises about the most popular industries on the site. Shown are the top ten most reviewed industry segments on Yelp. Any stick out to you? For most business owners it’s that restaurants aren’t the top industry on the site. It’s actually Home & Local Services at 19%. Followed very closely by Restaurants at 17%, Shopping at 15%, Beauty/Fitness at 11% and Health rounding out the top five at 9%.

Yelp’s user demographics are ideal as well. Also shown below are Yelp’s demo numbers for age, gender, education & income. All of those numbers fall generously within the preferred advertiser demographics. What you’re mostly dealing with are educated individuals who have money to spend. Essentially, what these demographics display are that Yelp’s user base is extremely fertile for advertisers.

Yelp Ad Placements & Options

Now, on to the nitty-gritty. How DO Yelp Ads work and what are your options for them? Well, if you’ve ever seen an ad in your Google searches then Yelp Ads should feel very familiar to you in the way they look and behave. Yelp offers a couple of different placements for an ad and each one is determined by what a specific user is searching for. 

The first and most prominent spot your Yelp Ads will appear are at the top of a users’ organic search results in the “Sponsored Results” section. Do any search yourself on Yelp and you will see the ads above the organic search results. This is significant because businesses that advertise in the search results, and appear at the top of a Yelp organic search receive, on average, 2.5 times more leads than those that do not advertise on Yelp. 

The second location your ads will appear are on any relevant business pages as well as actual competitors of your business. So for example, if a user visits another company page and sees your ad with good reviews along with it they may be more likely to consider you over the business they initially clicked on in the first place. Essentially “stealing” a customer lead from your competitors.

Outside of where your ads will be displayed the most important element to running any successful ad campaign is in the targeting capabilities and Yelp Ads offer tools for that as well. Because you’re able to target by keywords, location & intent there is a fair amount of flexibility in an ad campaign run on the platform. You also don’t need an astronomical budget to get traction like you would on Google which is especially dependent on the industry you’re in. On Yelp, you can spend as low as $5/day and still see quality results. Of course, the option to spend more is always there and the results will also go up accordingly.

Example campaigns and results from some clients

Okay okay, I can sit here and tell you Yelp Ads are worth your time all day long but if you’re anything like me I’d want to see some results before I was convinced. Ask and you shall receive. Let’s take a look at a few charts to analyze the results of two different companies in two different industries who ran Yelp ad campaigns.

Home Improvement Industry

Have a peek at what is shown below. You will see that during the months of September, October and November we ran ads for a home improvement company using a $300 ad credit provided to first time ad account owners. The red bars are the results from our paid campaigns and the blue bars are organic unpaid results. As you can see, in only three months of the year 25% of their impressions on Yelp searches were from ads. The same goes for clicks (or ‘page visits’ here) from ads. The last graph shows the total number of leads acquired on Yelp. Looking at this specific graph will show you that the three months the ads were running were three of the best lead months of the year for this particular business. In the end we actually ended up having to turn this campaign off because they couldn’t handle the amount of business they were getting and were having to turn customers away!

What’s really interesting about this case is that even after we stopped the ads we continued to see residual benefits and results many months after. As the charts below illustrate, we recorded increased impressions, page visits and leads even with the ads turned off. What we realized was happening was that during that three month time period so many new customers discovered them on Yelp it boosted their search rankings as a result. Because those new customers ended up using their services and eventually left them great reviews Yelp rewarded their listing. What happened is that increased engagement caused their profile to get shown in Yelp’s organic search results more often because that’s part of their ranking algorithm. Now, at this point, they don’t even need to run ads again on Yelp until traffic starts to slow down a bit. Not bad for a three month investment, huh?

Hospitality Industry

This particular business only wanted to run ads during their slow season to help bump their profits during a time of lower business. As with the first example above almost ¼ of the impressions in a three month span came from paid promotion. Similar boosts were found in clicks and leads as well. Comparing Feb – April of 2022 to Feb – April of 2023 you can see that the ads played a significant role in the organic results this company received. Not only were paid results higher but organic, free results were higher as well. A clear correlation is that advertising on Yelp increases your visibility significantly. This was also a higher volume business as well which shows that any business size can utilize Yelp’s advertising options and see results.

When are Yelp Ads WRONG for my business?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article most businesses will absolutely benefit from running ad campaigns on Yelp. There are however a few instances where a business may not benefit from Yelp Ads.

For example, because Yelp is a local-focused site, if you don’t have any local offerings there would be no reason for you to advertise on the platform. Another factor that would determine that Yelp wouldn’t be a worthy option for your advertising dollars is if you’re a B2B only business. Yelp excels at helping individuals (consumers) find a local business. If you’re a B2B company other advertising channels are out there that would be a better option.

And lastly, if your company has a large negative presence on Yelp it’s probably not going to be the best place to try and advertise. And this one is more difficult to navigate because the only way you can rectify this issue is by increasing the amount of positive reviews to push down the older negative ones. That can be a huge undertaking in and of itself.

Wrapping up

At the end of the day, if I were to wrap up all of the information from above and boil its points down into a single sentence I would simply say that ‘Yelp Ads can be a beneficial, low-cost and low-pressure way to increase customer interest in your business’. And customer interest is a very powerful idea to be able to put into a person’s head. If you’ve ever seen the movie Inception you will know what I mean 😉

If you’re still hesitant about giving Yelp Ads a shot there are some incentives we can provide. For example, we may be able to get you $300 in ad credits for free as a new ad account owner. By the time that credit finishes up we would know for certain whether Yelp was a good option for your advertising dollars. A no commitment test run if you will.

There’s a lot more to learn about Yelp Ads that I can’t even begin to touch on in this post. You can browse on their site if you’re interested in reading more. They even include some case studies and other helpful resources for your benefit.

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