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Yelp Reviews - Do They Impact SEO and My Reputation?

Yelp Reviews - Do They Impact SEO and My Reputation?


by Hugh Duffy

Yelp Reviews For Accountants

As a small business owner, many accountants overlook the role of Yelp listings impact upon your firm reputation, search engine optimization and whether Yelp matters overall.

What Is Yelp?

Yelp is an online directory for locating local businesses ranging from restaurants, bars, doctors, electricians, lawyers and even accountants. In fact, Yelp provides 1200 categories and enables customers to search for businesses and determine how satisfied (or unsatisfied) people are with local businesses.

Yelp has 220 million reviews of businesses and has stood the test of time.

In many ways, Yelp is the second best provider of online reviews, behind Google. Yelp enables consumers to rate, post pictures, and comment about their experiences with local businesses.

Today, 90% of all consumers use the internet to locate a local business and determine the best match. Or said another way, consumers often read online reviews to avoid bad experiences and determine who the best provider is.

Yelp Impact on SEO and Your Reputation

Google's primary mission as a search engine is to provide consumers with the most relevant information. And as part of this mission, Google trusts what consumers say with online reviews and ratings. In fact, Google's search engine places much more authority on what a consumer says about their experience than what the business owner promises.

Your reputation as a business owner is formed by the ratings and what people say about your performance. Their perceptions are your reality, today more than ever. And while nobody can please everyone, a few bad reviews in a row in combination with what consumers say becomes gospel and can negatively hurt your reputation for years.

How Google Uses Yelp to Create Your Reputation

Google crawls Yelp reviews several different ways.

Keyword Associations - Your keyword phrases and descriptions of your accounting practice within your Yelp profile are golden nuggets for Google about what services you provide.

Backlinks - Backlinks to your website from Yelp reviews are a signal of authority. These links (off page authority) elevate your firm within the eyes of Google as a trusted provider.

Images - Google crawls the images on your Yelp reviews as well.

Ratings and Number of Reviews - Google likes numbers over text. The more Yelp Reviews you have, the more confident Google is to recommend you within their search engine. And your average rating score matters too. Popularity matters to Google.

Links to your NAP Info - Google likes consistency and looks to your Yelp profile for firm name, office addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, etc. If you recently had a firm name change or address change, then your contact information needs to be updated everywhere.

How to Improve Yelp Reviews

The best way to improve your Yelp reputation is by asking "happy" clients to share their experience on Yelp. While technically, Yelp frowns upon encouraging happy clients to post reviews online, small businesses need to nudge clients to share when they are truly happy because positive reviews drive business.

Yelp's official policy prohibiting businesses from asking clients for reviews is bizarre but is backed up by their preference for random, spontaneous reviews that were requested or prompted by business owners. Hence, this is why Yelp's filter hunts for suspicious reviews and buries them in the Not Recommended section.

Here are some of the ways Yelp identifies suspicious reviews:

  • The reviewer's profile in incomplete or missing key info
  • The reviewer's profile only contains positive reviews
  • The reviewer's IR address and location don't match
  • Multiple reviews from different accounts originate from one computer IP address
  • The reviewer does not have friends, hasn't uploaded photos, and doesn't have enough reviews

What are the Negatives with Yelp

The largest knocks on Yelp are that their sales reps are too aggressive, which is true. In fact, we recommend that our clients not advertise with Yelp because it has not worked in the past.

The second largest knock is getting past Yelp review filter, which frustrates most accountants. In other words, the happy client posts a legitimate review and Yelp decides not to show it and places the review in the Not Recommended section (stuck in filter).

The third largest knock on Yelp is that all reviews are negative (1 or 2 stars). Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, 69% of Yelp reviews are 4 or 5 stars (51% 5 stars, 18% 4 stars).

Yelpers are Passionate and Vocal (Yelp Elite)

Yelp has created the Yelp Elite Squad to encourage those who are passionate writers, photographers, and adventurers who enjoy sharing hidden gems. Yelpers are the vocal minority who have demonstrated over time that likes to be recognized as a trusted voice.

Here is what a review looks like from a Yelp Elite member:

Best Long Term Approach with Yelp

As an owner of an accounting practice that wants lots of Yelp reviews, the best way is to operate like you are a passionate Yelper first. Yes, that means downloading the Yelp app on your cell phone (to take photos on premise, Yelp looks at Wifi geo in pics) and completing your Yelp profile completely (real name, pictures of yourself, etc.). Then, pay the online reviews forward with local restaurants, delis (pics and long reviews) and local businesses that are your favorites. And then sprinkle in a couple unsatisfactory reviews of businesses who have disappointed you (support with pictures). And spread these out over time (2-3 per week, not all at once and go dark).

Sprinkle in 1-2 new restaurants (make it appear you are passionate about Yelp).

After posting ten reviews, now it's time to pay the favor forward with business clients of yours. Scratch their back by posting a glowing review, supported by pictures on site. Some will thank you and most will reciprocate.

Now that you've established a track record as a Passionate Yelper (15+ reviews supported by pics), then it's time to join the Yelp Elite Squad and nominate yourself (

Other tactics are:

  • Send compliments
  • Up-vote other reviews
  • Support reviews with 3 photos
  • Write thoughtful reviews
  • Post a few scathing reviews
  • Respond to reviews written about your accounting practice

Yelp Matters

Incorporating Yelp into your accounting practice is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want long term success, then Yelp should be part of your foundation.

Hugh Duffy