Yes, I admit it: I just recently signed up for a business account with Yelp. After seeing a colleague go through a really bad time dealing with a negative review from a disgruntled patient, I swore I wouldn’t sign up for it; however, I recently discovered that even if I don’t sign up for an account, someone else could sign up my business. That convinced me to take action.

Whatever your own thoughts are on Yelp, it appears it’s here to stay. Founded in San Francisco in July of 2004, Yelp has expanded to cities around the world. By the end of Q1 2014, Yelp reviewers had left more than 57 million reviews, and Yelp had a monthly average of 132 million unique visitors (with 61 million unique visitors via mobile devices).

These stats make it clear that you need to claim your Yelp page. Yelp can bring new business to your practice and prevent negative word-of-mouth reviews from driving away potential patients. Creating a business account involves filling out a few online forms and answering a quick automated phone call. (It will take you less than 5 minutes to do it all.) Click here to read a quick explanation of how to set up your business page.

Here are a few ways you can make your listing more successful:

  • Be sure to fill out all information as completely and correctly as possible. There’s nothing worse than having a potential client try to contact you only to find out that your address or phone number has changed.
  • Respond to customer reviews in a positive manner. When responding to a negative review, thank the reviewer for the feedback and briefly address the issue. You also can respond privately to the reviewer. Yelp provides some advice on responding here.
  • Share announcements and offers on Yelp. These will appear in an offer/announcements directory for your city (similar to Groupon or Living Social), thus exposing your business to potential new clients. This would be best for wellness services or cash-based programs, because offering discounts on therapy can be difficult. APTA has resources to address the issue of discounting payments here.
  • Display a Yelp badge on your website that potential clients can click to see your reviews.

Some business owners have criticized Yelp’s algorithmic filter, which combats review scams by weeding out comments from people whose personal profiles aren’t complete and who have left only a single review on the site. To prevent Yelp from flagging any comments your clients have written, encourage them to fill out their profiles as completely as possible and to review other businesses they’ve visited. Both efforts will increase the likelihood that Yelp will accept and display their reviews.

To make the most of Yelp’s ranking system, try to obtain regular reviews of your business. It is against Yelp's terms of service to pay reviewers or to engage in review trading scams, but you absolutely can ask clients to take a few moments to leave comments on your page. Most satisfied clients will be happy to leave a review for you.

Have you used Yelp for your business? What are some of the benefits you’ve seen?

The Profitable PT: 5 Simple Strategies for Private Practice Success - Regular BannerThe Profitable PT: 5 Simple Strategies for Private Practice Success - Small Banner
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