Most people know about Yelp, even if they don’t use it. Yelp is a business directory that allows people to leave reviews about a business to help other consumers find good businesses. They make their money selling ads to the businesses in their directory.
Like many large tech companies, they are founded and headquartered out of San Francisco, CA and based how they run their business on large markets.
The bad news is for those of us in medium to smaller markets, like here in the Eugene and Springfield area of Oregon, they use their large market statistics to convince businesses to waste money on their platform.
Why is it a waste of money?
You have no control or analytics of what you are spending the money on.
Your ad will appear in the “categories” of your business in a X-mile radius:
Yelp has a long list of categories, but not all inclusive, in fact the only specific service we offer that they have as a category is web design. They had no other options matching our services that related close enough to our company. The rest were very generic.
This is a problem when that is how they determine when your ad lists, who your competitors are what the CPC amount numbers will be. You do get to set a radius from your business, depending on the type of company you are.
The only data from your ad campaign is the number of impressions, the number of clicks, cost per click and total ad spend.
There is no data about category or search term, which prevents you from making decisions about successes and failures from your campaign.
No keywords, negative keywords or filtering:
As previously stated, your ad will appear based on your category and competitors. They do not allow you to try and do any targeting, keyword preferences or negative keywords. So, no optimizing your improved ad success.
You can set a “daily” budget to restrict your “monthly” ad spend, but this does not limit how much you spend per click.
In our case study, the CTR was .004% and highest CPC was $43.83. You read that right, they give no analytics and do not allow optimization, but somehow they can justify charging a business $43.83 for a single click. That click did not even generate a visitor to the website.
High pressure sales:
Yelp is so set on selling ads, they will call and call to try and get you to start an ad. They will even give you a bunch of free ad spend, which sounds good, but the problem is that the ad spend still has a high cost to the business and a poor ROI.
We can’t say how poor because they will not give any statistics to you, we know because we asked for numbers.
Maybe we are wrong:
While there are tons of articles like this one that give good or bad reviews of Yelp’s ROI. All of the ones that we have read required the business to have an ad spend over $450 per month in order for them to generate enough traction to properly measure the numbers, which is a lot to put on one channel that does not give you decision making data.
Is it worth it?
By now, the obvious answer from us is “no,” not for digital advertising. Unless you have a large ad budget and all the analytics tracking in place to try and measure the results that Yelp does not give directly.
Our Yelp recommendation:
Yelp is still a powerful and popular business directory that does impact search engine results. So we recommend that you “claim your business,” completely fill out your listing with all the free options. We also recommend using reputation management strategy to request and respond to reviews.
In the digital age, there are many ways to try and generate business. Ad spend is one of them, but there are many other areas that should be addressed during or before you begin spending too much money in ads.
Directory listings and reviews are an important part of SEO as part of your marketing strategy.