While online reviews may be the bane of some business owners’ existence, savvy entrepreneurs understand that whether they like it or not, Yelp is here to stay. Claiming and maintaining a Yelp listing isn’t the most glamorous part of digital marketing for your company, but it can mean the difference between appearing like a heartless business or a customer-focused member of the online/local community.

Any strong digital marketing plan should include paying close attention to online reviews, specifically those coming through powerful sites like Google, Customer Lobby, and Yelp (among others). Below are just a few reasons that claiming your company’s Yelp listing should be a top priority — like it or not.

Information Flows

The reviews, pictures, and other data included in your company’s Yelp listing aren’t static. That content carries over to other websites that use Yelp to generate much of their information about your business. Search engines like Yahoo! and Bing both display Yelp reviews when a company’s website shows up in local search results.

Responding to Feedback

It’s easy to understand why no one likes to read negative things about themselves or their business online. Hearing that you’ve done a poor job is painful, and seeing your company misrepresented can be infuriating. For business owners, it’s a hassle to try everything in your power to make someone happy in person, only for them to turn around and slam your company online. Biting the bullet and responding to those negative reviews in a brief, professional tone, however, can turn someone who spent the afternoon tearing your service apart into a brand advocate.

Conversely, everyone needs a bit of positive reinforcement now and again. That’s why it’s equally important to respond to positive Yelp reviews with a quick “Thank you.” It only takes a couple of minutes and shows your customers that you’re listening to them all the time — not just when they complain.

Are You Being Misrepresented?

Even if you don’t ever plan to respond to positive or negative reviews, you will want ownership of the listing to at least ensure that your crucial NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information is correct. If the phone number is wrong, for example, you may not just miss a potential customer who was trying to get in touch he or she could also leave a negative review due to your perceived unresponsiveness.

After claiming your listing, make sure to review and update any outdated or incorrect contact information. Small steps you take now, like checking that your Yelp listing is in sync with your other marketing efforts, can make a huge difference down the line.

The Web Guys provides ongoing Internet marketing services for small businesses across the country. We also design killer websites. Give us a call at (317) 805-4933 or contact us online for more information.