In Rome, Do as the Yelpers Do

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Monticello
Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, a must-see in Charlottesville

During my winter holiday in Charlottesville, every meal we enjoyed at a restaurant was at a well recommended Yelp venue. Similarly my colleague Chris Pilbeam remarked that every venue he visited on a recent trip was suggested by travelers on TripAdvisor.

I guess the old adage should be revised: When in Rome do as the Yelpers do. After all, 100 million other people are using Yelp, too, and it ranks as a top 40 U.S. website according to Comscore.

All jokes aside, local search marketing now extends well beyond traditional SEO mainstays Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

If you have local business getting reviewed on Foursquare, Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local, and perhaps Facebook’s new Nearby service is critical to your success.

As niche social networks and applications have arisen, their users have populated them with powerful reviews.

Now these reviews help grow the networks with searchers who are trying to find just the right place, business, service, or recommendation. For example, TripAdvisor now generates 56 million page views a month, and is consider the ultimate for serious travelers.

Recommendations are so serious that one contractor unsuccessfully sued a customer over a negative Yelp review, and Yelp has had to deploy sting operations to uncover negative reviews. Facebook Nearby simply harnesses the aggregate amount of Likes a venue receives, making soliciting Likes a critical success factor.

There are many tips out there for business owners seeking to improve their local search ranking.

Here are a few quick ones to get you started:

Determine the Right Search Networks: Find out how customers are learning about you. Even have store clerks, wait staff or other personnel ask customers on site. Focus on your top networks, for example Foursquare, Yelp and Google+ Local.

Ask for Reviews: Use signage, staff and links on your web site to ask customers to review you.

Claim Your Page on Relevant Networks: Make sure to claim your page on relevant networks. Some sites like Foursquare allow you to build in tips, deals and other critical information.

Maximize Pictures and Videos: Encourage use of photos and videos in reviews. In today’s mobile world, these go ten times as far as text heavy copy. Highlight user photos whenever possible on your social media, and use your images when you claim local review pages.

What tips would you add?

This post ran originally on the Vocus blog.

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  • http://twitter.com/Spafloating Pamela Morse

    TripAdvisor is the most powerful travel,site because of the reviews..people do read them.

    • geofflivingston

      I do love the TripIt app. It’s fantastic!

  • http://barrettrossie.com/ Barrett Rossie

    I went to UVa and get to C’ville about every other year. What a town! Wish I could have run into you there, but then you’d realize what a stalker I really am.

    It’s mind-blowing how many small business owners blow off local search and social reviews/ratings just because they’re not into it personally. If I were in the restaurant business, I’d take Yelp, TripAdvisor and some others very seriously indeed.

    • geofflivingston

      It’s amazing. Jefferson’s hand is everywhere it seems…

      And yes, if I were a local retail business, I would start with local search, and then focus on the other engines. Customers, local customers, matter more. Plus those sites are certainly considered in the larger algorithms.

  • http://brianvickery.com/ Brian Vickery

    As a consumer, I definitely use both Yelp and TripAdvisor when traveling. I use Yelp mostly for the restaurants, though -and TripAdvisor for the hotels/resorts.

    Of course, we definitely make sure we collect “brand mentions” from both of those review sites with our monitoring solution (along with the regular social channels and blogs). A tweet or Facebook status can get lost in the noise, but those review site reviews have a LONG shelf life!

  • http://twitter.com/TheeDesign TheeDesign.com

    Our clients have seen tremendous growth in web traffic from Yelp lately which is testament to how much it is now being used by consumers. Especially those on smartphones. I wonder though if anyone has had any luck using Google Offers to drive web traffic?

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