YELP. The New Google. Locally.

The online review directory Yelp has been with us for years.

There are numerous directories out there, but Yelp has been prominent for some time. Yelp is important because its listings often appear near the top of a Google search results page.

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In fact, one of my goals as a local search engine optimization specialist is to have my client’s listings appear above the Yelp listings. Just the other day I was talking to a Yelp rep about a client’s listing, and she noticed our website beat the Yelp listing. She said, “That doesn’t happen much. You have good SEO.” Thank you, very much.

Traditionally, Yelp’s most popular function has been to help folks find local restaurants and to read their reviews. But it’s becoming popular for more than restaurant searches.

I started paying more attention to Yelp when a friend pointed to the Yelp app on his phone and said, “I don’t even use Google. I go to Yelp. If a local business isn’t on Yelp, I don’t use them.”

Wow!

My friend’s comment inspired me to conduct an “official” survey. I randomly asked people how they searched for local businesses and I found that many people, indeed, went to Yelp first for local businesses and not just for restaurants.

As a result, I’m building out and carefully writing the Yelp profiles for my clients.

Like other online businesses, Yelp has both free and paid services. To get started, I recommend local businesses take full advantage of the free Yelp listings. You will have the opportunity to upload images and textual information. Make sure you don’t skimp on your copy. There’s lots of room and keywords are important.

I must say I have found their system very easy to use, and I like the way they give youexcellent free tracking data regarding the activity and interactions of visitors.

To get started with your business on Yelp visit here.

Easy Web Tip 220: Many local shoppers use Yelp before Google. Make sure your Yelp profile is claimed, stocked with images, and written well.

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