Are you using Yelp to promote your dental practice? Is your dental practice even listed on Yelp? For those of you not yet in the know:
"Yelp is an online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great — and not so great — in your world." (Yelp FAQ)
According to Google Analytics, Yelp had a monthly average of 84 million unique visitors in Q3 2012. With more than 33 million reviews from consumers, Yelp has asserted itself as the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth recommendations on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. Even if you, yourself, have never heard of or visited Yelp, there is a very good chance your business is already listed and reviewed. Do you know what your patients, past and present, are saying about your practice?
Yelp also happens to be a forum for business owners to interact directly with customers. These crowd-sourced, user-submitted reviews also double as testimonials, which could either boost or blast your practice's reputation, depending on the average rating. The higher your practice's average rating, the more trustworthy you appear in the eyes of prospective clients. If you are in the hunt for more leads, reputation management on Yelp should be among your top priorities. With that said, here are some necessary steps to ensure your practice is in good standing with the general Yelp public.
Claim Your Business On Yelp
Or as Yelp coins it, "Unlocking Your Business Account". This confirmation process takes a matter of minutes and is vital in opening up the channels of communication, both publicly and privately, between your customers and your business. Why is this important?
Respond to Yelp Reviews
Depending on how much time you can allocate to this brand of reputation management, you should respond to feedback whenever possible, good and especially bad. A simple "thank you" shows customers that you are listening and that you care for what they have to say. In the event of a negative review (it is bound to happen), you can contact that person via a private message and sort out the discrepancy in a civil manner.
Yelp users can adjust their ratings whenever and however many times they see fit. This means a 1 star review resultant of some mishap can be easily bumped up to a 4 or 5 star if you make things right with your customer. There is always room for improvement and these low score Yelp reviews will show you just where to put your focus.
Polish Your Business Listing
There are millions of businesses listed on Yelp worldwide. Much like Google Local, Yellow Pages and the milieu of other online business directories, the more detailed your business description, the more visible your practice will be to potential patients searching for a reputable dentist. Information like accurate addresses, office hours, contact information and website url are standard fare, but to go above and beyond, we recommend you put some effort into the "About This Business" section where you are given free reign to describe your practice.
Because both Google and Yelp's search function canvasses the entirety of the site, the "About This Business" section is the perfect forum to implement your keyword strategy. If your practice offers some unique treatments such as WaterLase dental lasers or Invasalign, mention it in that section. This is your one and only chance to make your page stand out from the rest...aside from paying Yelp to do that for you, but that's another article altogether.
Embrace Yelp. They have somehow coerced consumers into willingly divulge their experience online without much in the way of incentive. Turn those negative reviews into positive testimonials. Word-of-mouth is and will always be the stongest arm of marketing. Yelp has merely established a forum for it online. Don't leave yourself out of the conversation.