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Q&A with Morgan Remmers: Yelp’s Manager of Local Business Outreach

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By now, most of us are familiar with Yelp when it comes to finding a great local business. However, many small businesses are still behind the game when it comes to making the most of a Yelp account. Between optimization tactics and other visibility tricks, understanding Yelp is becoming crucial to any local search campaign.

I spoke with Yelp’s Manager of Local Business Outreach Morgan Remmers to help find the answers for small businesses looking to make the most of Yelp. Below is our question and answer session—enjoy!

Q: Could you tell me a little bit about your position at Yelp? Responsibilities, how long you’ve been working there, etc.

I’m the Manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp. Every day I work with local business owners interested in gaining a better understanding of Yelp and utilizing the free tools available in Yelp’s Business Owners Account. I travel the country to educate business owners about Yelp and the ever-growing world of online reviews, as well as host webinars and contribute to Yelp’s Blog for Business Owners. I also facilitate Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council, a group of business owners from around the world that give their input on improving Yelp for small businesses.

Q: Can you set the record straight about the filtering process Yelp uses to display results? There has been quite a bit of negative backlash claiming that many positive reviews were getting filtered (at least in the past).

We try to showcase the most helpful and reliable reviews among the millions that are submitted to the site. Not all reviews make the cut, and those that don’t are posted to a separate “Filtered Review” page. Filtered reviews don’t factor into a business’s overall star rating, but users can still read them by clicking on the link at the bottom of the business’s profile page.

The filter establishes an objective standard against which every review can be measured and exists to prevent efforts to game the system and mislead consumers with fake, shill or malicious content. Even though it inevitably affects legitimate reviews from time to time and misses some fake ones, too, it helps protect the integrity of the site both for consumers and business owners alike.

The software looks at a wide range of data associated with every review, and the rules are the same for every business and every review, advertisers and non-advertisers alike. It sometimes affects more positive reviews simply because Yelp users write more positive reviews in the first place – nearly 80% of the reviews on our site are 3 stars or higher.

Q: It seems that restaurants earn the bulk of reviews from users. Do you have any future plans to help other types of businesses grow and become more popular with your site?

You may be surprised to hear that, at 23%, shopping is actually the largest category of reviewed businesses on Yelp. Restaurants are certainly a popular category, making up 20% of reviewed businesses, but consumers can review a wide range of businesses on Yelp, from dentists to car mechanics, real estate agents and roofers.

Yelp is a platform to connect people with great local businesses of all kinds, and we’ve recently released a new free Revenue Estimate tool that helps business owners connect the customer leads they’re receiving through Yelp with their revenue opportunity. In a recent BCG study, small business owners reported that advertising on Yelp generates notable annual revenue, particularly for the Home, Automotive and Local Services categories, so we do see all types of businesses having success on Yelp.

Q: On a previous post I’ve written, a few commenters were upset that there was no bulk listings management feature unless you want to spend a lot of money advertising. Do you plan to make any changes in this regard?

Business owners with multiple locations can claim the Business Account for each of their locations and manage these for free. They also have the option to work through a third party platform like Yext, SinglePlatform or Locu to manage their listing information on Yelp, and we do provide a bulk management service through Yelp for a fee. We’re committed to making it easy for businesses to keep their information up to date, so we’re happy to work with them through whatever avenue they prefer.

Q: What are some other features Yelp is working to create behind the scenes?

We’re always working to improve Yelp, and business owners often give us great ideas. In fact, many of the tools for small business owners we’ve implemented in recent years began as ideas Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council brought to the table in our monthly conference calls and annual summit. This group of business owners from around the world helps us incorporate direct feedback into our product and test out new ideas.

Q: Could you tell readers a little bit about your check-in process and how to get started? Specifically, why should people take this route over the Foursquare route?

With 45% of searches on Yelp taking place on Yelp’s mobile app, a check-in offer is a great way to not only gain additional exposure in customized searches, but also may entice Yelp users to patronize your business. Consumers can search exclusively for businesses offering acheck-in offer on the mobile Yelp app. Make sure you’re a contender in these tailored search results by setting up this feature in your Business Account. When a consumer clicks to view your full business listing, your check-in offer appears prominently at the top of your Yelp listing. This can be anything from a discount to a free high-five. Users can also publish their check-in to their friends on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter, further increasing your exposure.

To get started, log in to your free Business Account, choose an offer type, add a headline and any additional details, and your offer is up! Once a customer unlocks your offer, they can use it now or save for another visit. When used, the offer will disappear from the device or you can also tap a button to mark it as immediately redeemed.

Q: Are there any free tools you highly recommend that maybe businesses aren’t overly familiar with?

Yelp Check-In Offers and Deals are both tools that can give a business more exposure in Yelp searches and on the Yelp mobile app. Do some research on businesses similar to yours to get a feel for a competitive offer and consider utilizing these tools to make your business a viable option in more search results. Another benefit to these tools is that Yelp automatically reminds a user to review a business where they’ve recently checked in or used a Deal.

We also have a Yelp badge available within the Business Account so that business owners can link to their Yelp profile directly from their website, giving customers a subtle reminder to find them on Yelp. To increase customer awareness of your Yelp profile, we also provide free graphics on our Flickr.com account, including everything from printable in-office signage to newsletter icons.

Q: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about Yelp?

No matter the type of business, Yelp’s free tools can bring added value to every listing. Whether you’re a realtor, dentist or shop owner, taking a few minutes to set up your free Yelp Business Account, adding some basic business info, and checking in every once in a while to respond to a review or add new photos can go a long way to making your business more attractive to consumers on Yelp. With over 100 million average monthly unique visitors, Yelp continues to be a trusted resource for consumers looking for great local businesses, so make sure you put your best foot forward.

If you’re unsure of where to start or are a longtime Yelp user looking to get more involved, check out biz.yelp.com/support for the Yelp Blog for Business Owners, video tuturials, tips for responding to reviews, and more to help you get the most out of Yelp and our resources for business owners.

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