If you ever find the likes of Yelp, Yell or Trip Advisor outranking your website in the search results, you’re not alone.
It’s a common sight for today’s local businesses: you search your business name and find that instead of your website at the top, Yelp or some other directory has taken its place.
Sometimes businesses can be pushed so far down the page that 5 or more directory listings appear in front.
Surely if you search for your business, your website should show up first?
Sites like Yelp often steal the limelight because of their sheer SEO power. In other words they spend millions of dollars to make sure they’re always in the local search results.
Because of the scale and SEO muscle behind these sites, they often find their way to the top for thousands of local search queries, leaving small businesses behind in their wake.
Why Does Yelp Rank Higher?
Some of the common reasons that Yelp or other directories might outrank your own website:
- Your site is new
- Your site has few backlinks pointing to your website
- Your site lacks substantial content
- Your site isn’t targeting the right keywords
When people search for your business, they expect your site to appear right away. If it’s not you could be losing trust, traffic and control over your audience.
Fortunately it is not too difficult to claim back the top spot, at least when it comes to searching your business name.
What to do if Yelp ranks higher than your website?
Increase your online presence – A common reason for Yelp ranking higher than your website is because you have a small online footprint.
- Create social profiles – Create social profiles complete with your business information and link back to your website.
- Complete Google My Business – If you haven’t already, sign up for Google My Business, it’ll ensure your business appears across the whole of Google, it’s also a proven factor for increasing local SEO.
- Submit your business to local directories – Ironically the more directories your business appears on, the more important it will appear, increasing your local search position.
Look at your website’s keywords – Is your business website optimized with the correct keywords? Yelp often ranks higher because every page is well optimized with the types of keywords people are commonly searching for.
- Add your NAP –Make sure your business name, address and phone number are clearly visible on your website.
- Complete page titles & descriptions –Does every page have a unique title and description? Do they include the keywords you rank to rank for? Take a look at how the title and description is structured for Yelp, see how theirs compares to yours. Use a snippet optimizer to help you write them.
Does Yelp Penalize Businesses That Don’t Buy Ads?
There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to Yelp and their so called “tactics” for selling paid ads. According to the FTC they have received no fewer than 2000 complaints from disgruntled businesses about Yelp’s business practices. Some claim they have lost positive reviews and Yelp has promoted negative reviews after they refused to pay for ads.
Yelp has repeatedly denied these claims and independent research seems to suggest there is no correlation between the decision to pay for ads and how reviews are filtered.
Whether these allegations are true or not, there is little relation between paying for Yelp ands and your Google ranking. Reviews do make up a portion of how local businesses are ranked, however there is equal opportunity to get these reviews without paying for Yelp ads, and in uncompetitive markets businesses can rank well with no reviews at all.