How to get more Yelp reviews for your business

Local businesses have a love-hate relationship with Yelp.  If you have a 3.5+ rating on Yelp with over 30 reviews, then Yelp is a terrific resource for new customer acquisition. On the other hand, if you have a sub-3 rating on Yelp, then Yelp can destroy your business. The ratings and stars is a good example of gamification, a booming trend. (Click here to see What is Gamification)

It’s therefore important to not only get a lot of reviews on Yelp, but to make sure they’re positive reviews.  This post will cover how to increase your review count, while a future post will cover how to make sure these Yelp reviews are positive.

Who should read this post: local business owner that are looking to increase their Yelp reviews

Why you will learn: how to get customers to leave you more Yelp reviews

1. Post Yelp signage

Obvious and effective.  Post a sign at your location to encourage your customers to find your business on Yelp.  Now that more and more customers have a smartphone, customers can write a review while they’re shopping or dining at your location.

2. Post your positive Yelp reviews at your business

This is very very effective.

I saw this used at one of my favorite vegetarian fast-casual restaurants in Irvine, CA.  They printed and framed their best Yelp reviews and posted them inside of the restaurant so you can see them while waiting in line to order.  Furthermore, the frame looked very exquisite and they blew up the reviews to 10x their size so that it’s very easy to read.

This technique has two very positive results:

  1. Other Yelpers realize that this place is highly reviewed and worth reviewing, so they’ll take the time to review it as well
  2. People in line will feel very positive while waiting in line and the taste of the food will be that much better because they expect it to be great, leading to positive reviews

3. Offer a special reward to the Foursquare mayor

Yelpers are highly likely to use other social media service such as Foursquare.  Therefore, the more Foursquare users that you attract, the higher the chance that you’re attracting people that leave reviews on Yelp.

Fourquare users must also take out their phone in order to check-in.  If they’re taking out their phone to check-in, they may also take out their phone to review your business on Yelp.  Increase your chance of Yelp reviews by getting more Foursquare users.

4. Host a Yelp event

Another obvious and VERY effective way to boost your Yelp ratings.  Take the following steps to hold a fun Yelp event with many Yelpers:

  1. Interact with your current Yelpers (the users that have already reviewed your business on Yelp)
  2. Interact with Yelpers that have reviewed a similar business to yours
  3. Contact your local Yelp Elite member to let him know that you’re looking to host a Yelp event and that you’re looking to work with him to host it
  4. Create a a web-form with Wufoo and invite Yelpers to RSVP for your event

5. Collect emails and request reviews in the footer

It’s always a good idea to collect emails.

Do NOT send an email just to ask for Yelp reviews – this can have negative consequences and makes you look like a needy business owner.  Instead, make the ask passive.

In the footer of your emails, create a link to your Yelp page:

Let us know your feedback on Yelp! Over 100 others have already!!!

Each step above takes investment on your part.  If you hustle, have excellent food and service, and constantly remind your customers to review you on Yelp, then you will greatly increase your reviews and see a very positive increase in foot traffic to your business.

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50 thoughts on “How to get more Yelp reviews for your business”

  1. hi thank you very much for this . I would go and do it for G+ and facebook . they have the same system. 
    thanks.
    4amirlevy

  2. ronbentata Haha, thanks for the note! When this was written, still not enough people could use QR codes comfortably (and mainstream consumers like my mom still can’t). But I think now it’s a very valid point 😉

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  4. hi Yukai. about the first point, Posting a Signage. i would recommend using a QR code on the sign to make it easier for customers to find the business on Yelp, and get quicker to reviewing the business. you can also set up a page before loading yelp, asking the customer to review the restaurant and get free drink (or something)

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  7. hey, great Yelp ideas. What is the name of the restaurant that you saw the Yelp reviews at. I live in the area and would love to check it out. Thanks and keep up the great ideas Jun.

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  15. The best and cheapest way is to google fiverr and search for jacktheguru who is a user. Send him information on or about a business, product or service and he will give you an credible review. Stop spinning your wheels.

    1. Nate this is quite possibly the worst advice anyone has ever given on this topic. If you engage in bogus reviews you will get caught. Its short sighted and damn foolish.

  16. Great advice. I did like the idea about hosting event and having small group of exclusive loyal visitors come by. Treat them with a fair respect and they’ll definitely go out of their way to write good reviews.

  17. I don’t understand Yelp’s logic for filtering out reviews?

    I run a small independent business, and all of my clients were happy to write a review for me. 11 out of 12 reviews got filtered out. WTF? These are genuine honest clients of mine, who want to support me and understand how hard it is for small business owners.

  18. our customers wrote 4 and 5 star reviews for our fast casual restaurant on Yelp, but they are not visible to public but only to us. We realized if it’s the customer’s first review on Yelp it doesn’t show up, but if they’ve written reviews for other establishments then it’s visible to public. If we request a review from a happy customer and they write a review and it doesn’t show up I’m sure they’ll be pissed off. Do you have a solution for that?

  19. Not just getting reviews but getting POSITIVE REVIEWS.
    This article is great however I think the overwhelming problem is getting positive reviews spread, and not just on Yelp but on other social websites like Google places, City Search, Yahoo local etc.
    How do you get more positive reviews???
    While there are business owners trying to purchase reviews, there are also Yelpers trying to get free services and food from businesses. We have heard over and over from clients who keep a log of their customers and insist they have never serviced some of the people who have left a review … the reason being is its quicker and cheaper to leave the review first, and then try and extort the business than actually use the service in the first place.

    While buying reviews is not a good idea, there are strategy/methods that have significantly helped improve our clients ratings and position on Yelp. We often blog http://esioh.com/blog/ about our Yelp encounters and suggestions as its quite the hot topic these days.

    Business owners: Don’t forget about the other review sites. Though Yelp has the biggest cut of the online review market, there are other players like Google, Citysearch, Yahoo Local, UrbanSpoon, SuperPages etc etc et … Make sure you’re taking advantage of them.

  20. Hello Jun,

    Can you help me, how to fetch the reviews (rss) from yelp site. I am trying to collect the reviews for my college project.

  21. Hi Jun,
    I read this article and enjoyed the recommendation. It is difficult to take a practical approach to Yelp as these reviews can upset owners (sometimes rightfully).

    You missed an important detail. In “2. Post your positive Yelp reviews at your business,” you do not mention that you can not take the content/text of a Yelp post without the permission of the reviewer. It violates copyright rules and Yelps terms of service. Enough abuse of this can cause Yelp to shut down your business’ entire Yelp page. So if a business wants to reprint a Yelp review, they have to make sure it is okay with the reviewer.

  22. Jun,

    Do did a big disservice to small business by asking them to suport YELP. Yelp is bad for business community and I any effort to support them will take down the spiral downward. They are first of all no business friendly and most of the Yelpers are bargain hunters. 90% of the reviews are complaints and it has become a complaint forum.

    Why do you want business to pay / support a complaint forum. If people really care about business they can talk with the owners and resolve issues. You dont want people to give you a 1 star because they dont like the paint color or they didnt like the owners hair style.

    I strongly suggest you should do research and write about how Yelp can hurt local community. Yelp makes a business by pitting customers against business. This is not a healthy model for the economy and local community.

    The only way for Yelp to fail is to ignore them and stop their cash flow from businesses. If businesses understand this they will stop support to Yelp.

    1. Hey Patrick, thanks for your comment.

      It’s true that many businesses have had poor experiences with Yelp. There are even stories about how Yelp triest to take advantage of local communities.

      However, Yelp is still a BIG driver of customers to local businesses. I don’t have numbers at the moment on what % of new customers discover a restaurant via Yelp, but I can tell you that I use Yelp every time I want to try a new restaurant. The same goes with the majority of my friends.

      It’s foolish to ignore a social network because businesses have had poor experiences with it. Instead, the best approach is to utilize Yelp for what it’s worth. High reviews can greatly benefit a restaurant, so it’s important that a restaurant learn how to get lots of reviews and make sure they’re positive.

  23. Personally, I prefer Yelp to Foursquare. I’ve seen a lot of people who just walk in to my store, check-in and leave.

    Any suggestions on how to prevent that?

    1. There’s no way to prevent a Foursquare user to check-in at your location.

      The goal of giving a Mayor reward is to encourage Foursquare users to check-in and try to get the reward and recognition.

      Sure, a person can check-in without buying anything, but because there’s really only 1 mayor per location, you have very little to lose.

      Lastly, if the mayor is coming in that often, then most likely you or your staff will recognize the customer.

    1. No, you cannot delete negative reviews on Yelp. If you claim your business page on Yelp though, you can respond to these negative reviews. If you clear up the situation with the Yelper, you can ask the blogger to re-review your business.

  24. Can you tell me more about the Foursquare Mayor. What does it mean to become a Foursquare Mayor?

    How do I know if someone is a Foursquare Mayor? When I give him a reward, how do I track that he doesn’t get more than 1 reward a week?

  25. Jun, just the post I was looking for!

    Can you tell me more about organizing a Yelp event. How much does it cost, how many people can I expect, what are some do’s and don’t?

    Appreciate your answers

    1. Hey Samantha, below are your answers:

      1. It can cost as much as you want to spend. There’s no formal fees from Yelp. You just need to contact the Yelpers yourself and set up the event at your location. Just total up cost for food, hand out materials, and the cost to section off an area at your location just for Yelpers.

      2. Again, depends on how many people you contact. Use a webform from http://wufoo.com/ to allow Yelpers to RSVP, giving you an idea about how many people will attend.

      3. Don’t blatantly ask for Yelpers to review you at the event. Do be on your best behavior and give your best food because Yelpers WILL review you

    2. Hi Samantha,

      Pls don’t support Yelp. They are bad for small business. Instead spend your money on Google, Facbook and FourSquare.

      Yelp takes advantage of failing business to advertise, once you start to advertise you get into this mode pitting against another failing business. This is how they get more business. Once businesses stop supporting yelp, they will act more fair and not behave like a bully.

      If you are a small business, pls do not support Yelp.

      “YELP IS BAD FOR BUSINESS AND FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY”

      1. Hey Patrick, it’s not about supporting Yelp, it’s about using it intelligently to get business.

        The worst thing a business owner can do is ignore Yelp. Whether you like it or not, customers use Yelp to discover new businesses. If a business ignores Yelp, then any random reviews and comments can be posted on the business’ yelp page.

        Furthermore, a business with 4-star reviews on Yelp will receive much more foot traffic than a business with only 3-star reviews on Yelp.

        That’s why it’s so important to leverage and use Yelp for what it’s worth.

You must engage in the conversation!!