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Yelp SEO Ranking Factors and Profile Optimization Guide (Updated)

By August 19th, 2021SEO, Infographics

This article answers two questions.

  1. What are the major SEO Ranking Factors of Yelp?
  2. How do I optimize my Yelp Profile for maximum visibility?

Keep reading if you want to:

  1. Rank number 1 on Yelp’s internal search engine.
  2. Rank your Yelp profile on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
  3. Learn how to get on Yelp top 10 results.

Let’s get started

Yelp ranking factors

Question 1:

What are the major SEO Ranking Factors of Yelp?

1

Existence of Reviews

Having some customer reviews is essential for your business to rank on Yelp. If your company doesn’t have any reviews yet, it won’t be rated well unless you are in a very small region or you don’t have a lot of competition in your business category.
2

Keyword Relevance of Reviews

When a person does a review for your business, the language they use is important. If they mention your products or location or make direct comments about your services it will have a bigger impact on your ranking.
3

Business Categories

Having the correct category listed for your company can be the difference between being found and never being seen. If you run a restaurant but its listed under factories you won’t be found.
4

Name of the Business

If you are creating a new business, your company’s name can mean a lot on Yelp. If your company has the city name or keywords that depict the service you offer, this can help your rankings higher.
5

Quantity and Quality of Reviews

Both the quality and quantity of your reviews will have a positive impact on your Yelp rankings. While high-quality reviews will raise your 1 to 5 ranking within their system, the number of reviews will have a greater impact on your actual page ranking.
6

Reviews by “Elite” Members

Reviews by Elite members have a bigger impact than normal customer reviews for your business’ ratings.
7

Check-Ins Via Smart Phone

Having members check-in and say they were at your business is a great way to quickly raise your ratings and one of the easiest. It doesn’t require the customer to give a review, but just say they were there.
8

Content Freshness

Maintaining current, relevant, and fresh content is an important part of keeping good rankings on Yelp. It doesn’t require a lot of work, but it does need to be done regularly to keep your page’s content fresh. Update each written section, and include frequent photo and video uploads with carefully crafted descriptions.

Yelp SEO Ranking Factors Infographic

We have also put together an Infographic about Yelp Ranking Factors so you can share on your social media accounts or websites.

If you do, it would be great if you could link back to this page as the original source. : )

Yelp SEO ranking factors Infographic

Question 2:

How do I optimize my Yelp Profile for maximum visibility?

Now that we have studied and reviewed the ranking factors, let us start optimizing our profile page step-by-step. This guide will help you rank your profile on Yelp’s internal search engine and also Google and other major search engines.

First, let’s start with all the free tools offered in your dashboard area.

Yelp Profile Optimization (Free Tools)

1. Stake Your Claim

First off if you haven’t claimed your business yet, it is vital that you do that now. Without doing this you have no control over your profile, and someone could maliciously claim the page and do harm to your business’ reputation.

2. Update Your Business Information

After claiming your business, you should edit your profile and provide potential customers the most up-to-date information about your business.

To do so, navigate to your profile’s Business Information tab, you will see a few Edit buttons make sure you click on all of them, and update your information.

To update your contact information click on the Edit button under your business name.

Yelp profile optimization

…and fill out the following information.

Yelp SEO basic info.

The more information you provide the better chances of ranking you will have. This section allows for a primary website address along with a secondary link (Service Web Address), which directs users directly to your website’s menu or services page.

Please Note: Depending on the business category, some may not see the Service Web Address option.

There is also a section of checkboxes that allows you to indicate additional services offered such as free Wi-Fi, Parking, and more…

additional information

Pro Tip: If your business name and the city in which your business resides are the same, your search returns will increase exponentially.

For example, if your business is in Glendale, CA and the name of your business is Glendale Driving School, it will return more frequently in searches for Glendale than if the name was Ed’s Driving School.

Depending on a business category this section many also include Service Areas. List out the primary areas you wish to reach. Using city names creates additional location keywords for better local rankings. There are six slots to fill out, name all the cities you want to target. The areas listed will create a grid-map customers see under Service Areas.

Yelp service areas

3. Categories and Services

This is the most important section to include when filling out your business information; it is the core of Yelp’s organizational structure. A directory cannot properly function without categories.

To input your categories, go back to the Business Information section, click Edit next to the Categories and Services section.

Categories and Services

Update the following information and pick the best category for your business.

Update categories

4. Update Business Hours

Back to the Business Information tab scroll down to the Hours of Operation section to update your business hours.

Update Business Hours

This step is very important, as this is the information Google and other search engines check when representing your business’ working hours.

Be sure to include special hours as well, if applicable.

5. Specialties

Under the business hours, there is a section called From this Business, which has three sections, Specialties, History, and Meet the Business Owner.

These three are very important sections to fill out and target keywords and other information that will be beneficial for SEO and the potential client.

We will start with the Specialties.

The Specialties section is paramount as it is the primary place to fully explain your services and separate your business from local competitors.

The content in this section needs to be well written, filled with keywords reflecting the benefits you offer, your specialties, discounts, locations, and accurate descriptions of your products and services.

This section is for the customers as much as it is for the search engines. As the section title suggests, include any special services and other information that provides your customers with the information they want and need to choose your business.

Below is an example of great content and format that you can use to write for your profile. Pay attention to how we have targeted our services and location keywords and included beneficial information that will help the client choosing us over others.

Specialties

Pro Tip: When writing this content, remember about your customers first!

Think of how you like to research a business before you engage, for example, if you want to go to a local salon, do a research and find out what benefits they offer to customers, where they are located, and why you should shop there rather than at another store.

6. Business History

As the section title indicates, this is the place to write out your company history. How did you get started? When were you founded? Who was involved?

In short, tell your story…

Be sure to use this section to once again include location and any other keywords reflecting your services, and products.

The content for this section is important for Local SEO, so be natural in writing, but make sure to include the necessary keywords to reflect your business.

See below how we did our History section.

Business history

7. Meet the Owner/Manager

Share a bit of information about the owner or manager for your store and how he/she can assist the customers.

People love to feel a personal connection with businesses, and this is a wonderful place to give your space a face.

While keywords are useful here, these aren’t as necessary in this section. If you can integrate keywords in naturally, that’s great, but don’t force it for the sake of SEO because it’s not as relevant here.

Below is a great example of the content for this section, as you can see it targets location and services keywords naturally and it talks a little bit about the owner.

Oh and make sure to upload a clean, nice headshot. : )

About the owner

8. Keep Adding New Photos and Videos

Photos and videos are a great way to continually add fresh, relevant content showing off your business while also improving your rankings on Yelp.

This is a space to showcase customer interactions, products and services, your location, your staff, and any special events in a visually engaging way.

Pro Tip: Don’t solely rely on daily photos to act as fresh content. Be sure to update your written sections (such as Specialty) regularly.

9. Responding to Reviews

It is a good idea to respond to reviews, good or bad.

Review responses build trust with your customers and audiences while in tandem giving you the opportunity to organically add fresh content and keywords.

When writing responses, if you can do so naturally, include keywords for your business name, services, and location. This way you can target location and service keywords while also creating an environment of trust and respect for your customers.

As you can see in the example below, the business name, location, and service keyword “nail salon” is being targeted.

Thanks for the review

10. Deals and Gift Certificates

In the Deals and Gift Certificates Section on your dashboard, you can set up special discounts for your customers.

Listing deals on your profile doesn’t directly affect your Yelp SEO rankings based on keywords, but this is a golden opportunity to attract customers.

Yelp may start paying more attention to your listing if you get constant visits from local clients.

Yelp deals and gifts

11. Response Time, Rate, and Estimated Price.

Yelp provides your customers with the option to Request a Quote (for some businesses Request a Consultation) through your listing.

And depending on your business category there is also a new section that will show an estimated price, should you choose to set up.

Yelp CTA

These direct messages go to your Yelp Inbox.

Response time reflects respect for your customers. The quicker the response time the better. A good rule of thumb is to respond within the hour, though this may not always be feasible, it’s a good goal to have.

The system tracks and reflects your average response time and approval rate. This alerts customers to your reliability and builds trust.

10 to 20 minutes with a 100% approval rate is an example of an extremely good response rating.

Yelp Profile Optimization (Paid Tools)

Above we have talked about all the free tools that Yelp provides to keep your profile up-to-date. In this section, we will review a few paid opportunities you can take advantage of to boost your Yelp SEO.

1. Set up Ads

Ads are great for generating traffic and leads! Yelp gives a huge priority to Ads when displaying your business information.

Similar to other social media advertising methods, you decide how much of your budget to delegate to running an Ad, and the system will proceed to further boost your Yelp rankings and promote your business above all other returns for a relevant search.

Your Ad will be listed above all the other search results, with the marking of an Ad badge. If you show up first then obviously you will get more clicks and activity then the below listings.

first placement

2. Page Upgrades

Take advantage of Page Upgrade to attract more clients. These can be set up in the Page Upgrade section of your dashboard.

While some of these do not have direct SEO-related benefits, any time you put your customers first you reap ranking benefits.

These features include:

  1. Business Highlights – Pay to showcase up to six highlights if your business is in an eligible category. Yelp claims that businesses using highlights get 15% more leads. You can learn more about Business Highlights here.
  2. Enhancing photo and video display with slideshow.
  3. Picking a preferred profile image and organizing your media visibility order. (Recommended for your overall branding because you get to choose your company logo, otherwise, the system will pick a random image to display.)
  4. Remove Competitor Ads – Highly recommended upgrade!
  5. Setup call-to-action buttons and encourage your customers to make a purchase or sign up for a service.
  6. Portfolio – There is also one more feature that has been added to Yelp recently, it is called Portfolio. It is a paid service and as of this writing, the average price is $2 per day. The Portfolio lets you showcase your work, show before and after shots and you can even write descriptions, note your costs, and timeline.
Yelp page upgrades

3. Yelp Connect

So, what is Yelp Connect?

Yelp Connect is more like Instagram but for Yelp, it lets you post images and status updates about your business. You can showcase a new product, promote a sale or event, or just post about anything you want your customers to learn about your business.

Why is Yelp Connect useful and how does it improve my profile?

Connects can help you boost your profile rankings and promote your brand in a few ways.

For example, you can be active and connect to your customers that you would in any other social media network by promoting products and services, write posts and include relevant keywords to target more people, include links to send the traffic back to your website and upload images for overall brand awareness.

Yelp connect

Yelp Connects is a paid service and as of this writing, it is $99.00 per month. Is it worth it?

You won’t know until you try. : )

Off Yelp Optimization

In this section, we will learn what you can do off-site of the platform to further boost your rankings.

1. Social Integration

Yelp provides code snippets so you can easily place badges, buttons, and icons on your website which drive traffic back to your Yelp page, while also showcasing your ratings directly on your website.

These can be found in the Review Badges section of your dashboard.

Review badges are a good way to build trust with your customs and let them know you are listed.

You can also include a social icon linking back to your Yelp profile just like you normally would do with other social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and etc…

2. Link Building

Link building is an incredibly critical part of SEO.

Use your other social networks, blogs, and websites to link back to your Yelp page. Write guest posts to get other sites to link back to your page as well.

This is a huge part of the process.

You can get link building ideas for our post: A List of the Most Actionable Link Building Strategies That Will Blow Your Mind

Monitor Your Results

A huge part of Internet Marketing is analyzing your results. If you do not analyze you will not succeed. – Emin Sinanyan

1. Yelp Analytics

The Home tab in your dashboard is the place you can monitor your Page Visits and Customer Leads.

The Customer Leads tracks a variety of useful information, such as how many clicks to your websites, check-ins, how many visitors have entered your store, or how many phone calls have been made to your business.

Below that you can also see the audience overview showing mobile user views and how many times your business appeared on Yelp search.

You can dig deeper into this report and use the information to further optimize your profile.

Yelp Analytics

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another source you can access to get an even more in-depth look at your web traffic and user behavior like how many visitors you have received from Yelp and how long they stayed on your website.

There are two primary sections to get reports from. Let’s look at each one step-by-step.

We’ll start with the Referrals tab.

    1. Click on the Acquisitions button on the left-hand side of the Google Analytics page.
    2. Under this button select All Traffic and then Referrals from under that. A list of referral sources will display. Look for the source indicating yelp.com.
    3. Here you can check your sessions, which is a number of visitors, how many of these visitors are new, how long they have browsed your website, and more.Google analytics referrals
    4. Look at the bounce rate. The bounce rate is an indicator of how quickly your visitors left your site.  The lower the bounce rate the better.  30% is a great bounce rate and indicates visitors are staying and converting.  80% is a high bounce rate; you will want to evaluate your site to determine why people are leaving.
    5. If you want to get even more details, click the yelp.com link under the source column.

These reports are incredibly in-depth but very helpful. However, you need to be well versed in using Google Analytics to fully understand all the statistics listed and how to use the information provided to your benefit.

Next, let’s look more closely at Social Network Referrals.

  1. Once again click the Acquisitions tab.
  2. Close the All Traffic drop-down, and open the Social drop-down tab.
  3. Click Network Referrals.
  4. Find the Yelp line and click. This is where you can see a breakdown of exactly how people got to your website. Most likely, the primary source will be your home page, because this is the page listed on your Yelp business page. You might see other URLs listed, these will be because of the Service Area link and the additional links you have placed in your image descriptions.
Social network referrals

These tools are incredibly useful when working to improve your traffic and optimize your profile.

Bonus Recommendations

1. Response Time and Rate

Yelp provides your customers with the option to contact you through your listing. This section is listed under the main information on your page typically as “Request a Consultation/Appointment” or “Request a Quote.”

These direct messages go to your Yelp Inbox.

Response time reflects respect for your customers. The quicker the response time the better. A good rule of thumb is to respond within the hour, though this may not always be feasible, it’s a good goal to have.

The system tracks and reflects your average response time and approval rate. This alerts customers to your reliability and builds trust.

10 to 15 minutes with a 100% approval rate is an example of an extremely good response rating.

Response Time and Rate

2. Rating buttons (Useful, Funny, Cool)

The review rating buttons are for your customers. It’s a free feature you get with your business page, and while there is nothing you need to do with these, it is a nice feature to track reviews and responses.

Most likely Yelp is using these buttons for their review filter, the more ratings you get, the chances are your reviews won’t get filtered. However, this is not confirmed!

Yelp rating buttons

3. Photo Best Practices

When uploading photos, it is crucial to do so correctly to ensure your photos show up in Google Image Search. While your photos are to display your business on your Yelp page, these images are also useful in driving business to your website. Be sure to include an accurate description of the photo, as this is the primary method of how search engines recognize relevant content for photos.

Most modern search engines can recognize photos without a description, but having a text explaining helps them understand your photo content even better.

Also, we recommend including a link to your website in the image description field if appropriate. If you included a link, it will send relevant traffic to your website. Try including a link that is the most relevant to the image you are uploading.

4. Image Social Icons

If you choose to use an image-based social icon on your website to link back to Yelp, there are a few SEO best practices to keep in mind.

First and foremost, if you are using an image as an icon, make sure the image file name is descriptive.

It can be something like yelp-icon.png or yelp-profile.png

Then make sure your image Title Tag and the Alt Tag are also describing the image.

See the below code for example:

Code sample for alt and title tags

Finally, make sure your link is dofollow.

5. Be Mindful of WHO You Ask for a Review

While it may seem beneficial to ask your customers for positive reviews, it can also get your business in trouble. Yelp wants its users to only give reviews on their own accord and will penalize businesses for asking for reviews on their platform. If you get caught asking for reviews they can block you on the site or give you a significantly lower ranking on the site.

Take some time to get familiar with the way the rating system works and follow this Yelp SEO strategy and you’ll get on Yelp Top 10 and rank your profile higher on Google and other search engines with no time!

Also, if you are new to SEO and want to better optimize your profile, check out our On-Site SEO checklist, this will be a great help for your Yelp profile optimization.

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