Is Yelp Advertising Worth It?

The short answer…

No.

Who Am I To Talk?

Now I’m commenting here with very little experience as a consumer of the Yelp Advertising service. I don’t pay for it, nor have I spoken to an objective focus group of business owners who use it. My comments here are based on my anecdotal evidence through some of my clients and my expertise in online marketing.

What Does Yelp Advertising Get You?

Again, I’m no expert on Yelp’s pricing structure, but it appears that for about $400 per month, Yelp will:

  • Feature your higher on search results within Yelp
  • Let you put up a slideshow of images on your business page
  • Let you select one review to be featured
  • Show your listing on the pages of similar businesses
  • Display no competitor ads on your page

A bit pricy, but all of these are things that could help your business generate more leads and sales, BUT…

Who’s Using Yelp Advertising?

Yuppie and hipster college kids use Yelp more than anyone else, just take a look at their “talk” section of the site. These people are not going to be searching Yelp for your court accountant service, architect agency, etc. It’s all about nightclubs and sushi bars! The ironic thing is, the average restaurant would have to serve 40 people before they saw a 100% return on investment!

Use Yelp, Just Don’t Pay For It

Yelp Advertising

Let me be clear, I’m not saying stay away from Yelp completely. Use their free tools to make sure your business is “claimed” and you’ve set up all your detailed info as much as you can to help people find out more about you if they do happen to find you there. Encourage your customers to review you there because Google Places collects those reviews and displays them on your business Places page, which will help your rankings. It should be part of your overall internet marketing strategy, but it should never be the only thing you do.

If you’ve only got $400 a month in advertising to spend, don’t give it to these guys. You’d be better served using Google adwords to send visitors to a highly optimized landing

page if nothing else, but nothing beats organic SEO for getting the hits.

What Do You Think?

Leave your comments with your thoughts on Yelp and the value of their advertising service, I’d love to hear from business owners who use them and what they think!

Anonymous About Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor is the man behind Alameda Internet Marketing. He lives in Alameda, CA with his wife, kids, and mother in law. When he's not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, listening to records, and spending quality time with his XBOX.

Comments

  1. advertising on yelp doesnt make any sense. they are selling 600 impressions of your ad for $300. that is 50 cents per impression.
    the guy on the other line is trying to convince me by repeating – you want more business, you got to be in front of more people. he doesn’t take it into account, that being in front of people doesnt pay my bills. even after I told him the math and the averages. he still keeps on repeating the same speech like a robot.
    advertising is about mathematics. ROI means return on investment. if you invest $300 into advertising campaign you better know you are getting at least $301 dollars in return.
    with yelp impression advertising – it is very unknown. because they don’t provide any examples of numbers or stats on click through rates or anything. they just sell this to people who have no clue what advertising is. because it is very easy to prove what they offer is not going to bring you more money than what you pay. at least for my business.

  2. Nicely put, Ed. I actually spoke with someone today who swears by Yelp’s advertising, and he contends it’s brought him almost more business than he’s able to handle. While this is proof to me it can and does work, the program can’t possibly be appropriate for every type of business out there, especially smaller businesses where the average sale is less than $30.

    An effective SEO program, on the other hand, will bring great results for every business model imaginable, whether the goal is branding or more sales.

    Thanks again for chiming in, Ed.

  3. “You are better off investing in Google AdWords” implies that Yelp is just a smaller platform to advertise on. I think Yelp offers a greater value than you think it does. I can’t think of a more credible review site people can visit in their information search. And, I know 28% of Yelp users earn between 60-100K a year. Not a bad audience to market to. Not just a bunch of yuppies and college kids.

    • Hi Gabe, thanks for your comments. I wrote this entry back in March and my opinions on Yelp have changed somewhat. I do agree there’s plenty of value in it as an advertising medium, especially in a day when so many business owners are still spending on phone book ads.

      I also agree with you that there is no review site more credible than Yelp, even though their imperfect filters can sometimes leave obvious shills visible whilst filtering out real reviews. Google places certainly doesn’t come close to Yelp in credibility. I had high hopes for Judys Book but then they started charging subscriptions for business owners to even list their company.

      I now have two clients who tell me they’re very happy with Yelp, and after a sales call last week from a local rep that was surprisingly low pressure, I’ll tell you I might just eat my words and go for a subscription.

      The problem I have with it is many small business owners, who Yelp is surely aimed at, have limited advertising budgets. To spend anywhere from $350 to $1200 a month in a yearly contract for pay per impression ads should be something you do only AFTER you’ve got you’ve maximized your potential to earn clients through organic search.

      Thank you Gabe, I appreciate your comments!