Yelp Reviews for Real Estate: Separating Fact from Fiction
Yelp can be a marketing tool. Perhaps it’s not one you use yet, but it’s helped companies big and small, and countless professionals, grow brand awareness and even improve sales.
A Boston Consulting Group survey even found nearly 5,000 small businesses saw an average $8,000-per-year increase in revenue just by creating a business profile on Yelp … and they did that without spending a dime advertising on the site.
Many unbelievers claim the review platform doesn’t help their bottom lines. These claims, though, are based on myths. Here, we explore the truth about Yelp reviews and how you can use them to enhance your real estate marketing.
MYTH: It takes time and money to set up a business page on Yelp.
FACT: Let’s get this falsehood out of the way first. It is 100% free to set up your Yelp page for your company. As for the actual setup itself? It takes minutes, and in your account, you can add all of the important information the public needs to know about you, including:
- Your business location and directions to your office (integrates with iOS Maps)
- Your website, phone number, and office hours
- Any promotional offers you have going on, like referral programs
- Any work-related photos, including homes you’ve sold
“Yelp powers the iOS maps and business directory, so not being there is like deciding that you don’t want to be easily accessible to approximately 50% of U.S. smartphone users — not a good move,” said Jack Miller, CEO of T3 Experts, a firm that helps agents and brokers leverage technology. “Without a Yelp strategy, you are exposed to anybody coming along and creating a listing for your business and writing a negative review — and Yelp ranks really well in search. Simply put, you’re just plain vulnerable without having a presence on the site and a strategy for using it.”
On top of providing pertinent business info to the world on the site, you can also publicly or privately message other Yelp users — meaning you can converse with past and prospective clients — and track page views, ad clicks, and other actions taken on your page, thanks to the site’s analytics features.
MYTH: Yelp doesn’t really affect businesses’ revenues because real estate leads don’t put much stock in reviews.
FACT: Not only is this just not true (more than half of Yelp users use the site to make a purchase decision), but positive reviews from the site have also shown to improve business for some industries. For instance, a six-year Harvard study discovered that restaurants which received a one-star boost on Yelp saw a 5–9% increase in revenue.
Continue to build strong, trustworthy relationships with buyers and sellers and alert them of your Yelp presence and other places online where they can review you. A great way to do this? Add a call to action at the end of your blog posts and on your homepage noting you’re on Yelp. Three in five buyers polled by the National Association of Realtors said they’d use reviews in their next home buying decision, so get the positive reviews flowing and you’ll improve your chances of getting qualified leads to contact and eventually work with you.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
— Bill Gates
MYTH: Companies that don’t spend on Yelp ads get pushed down in search results in favor of those that do.
FACT: There’s no favoritism going on here. Yelp is simply a service that allows you to post your business listing information. There’s no manipulation of search results. Where you end up in these results depends entirely on the meta data of your account (all the details about your business, basically) and the quality and volume of your reviews (companies with numerous glowing reviews land at the top of search results, while those with fewer, poorer reviews don’t get listed high up).
It may seem like a natural reaction to ask past clients to post over-the-top positive reviews on the site to help you rank high in results, but believe it or not, Yelp actually discourages the practice. The reasons? The site notes “savvy consumers” can tell when businesses are loading up on positive reviews from happy clients. Yelp also indicated asking for positive customer input can lead to reviews getting moved down due to the platform’s algorithm, which sometimes views overly positive or negative reviews as potentially fake.
MYTH: Yelp bumps up positive reviews for advertisers and moves down negative ones.
FACT: Same as with search results here: Yelp doesn’t favor advertisers over non-advertisers. The site does have promoted reviews it features at the top of certain search results, but only one ad is showcased above all other numbered reviews. The site’s reputation in recent years suggests it strategically moves companies’ listings up and down as it sees fit, but as it states on its site (with evidence to back itself up), Yelp knows no allegiances.
When you advertise on the site, you don’t get special treatment, but you do get to showcase your business prominently and affordably. For instance, you can:
- Create targeted, local ads that resonate with your market’s buyers and sellers
- Put a call to action button atop your business page
- Add a video to your account detailing your value proposition
- Spend on a package that fits your ad budget
And what does all of this do for your real estate business? Well, just look at the results for those that have advertised on the site: Companies surveyed by Boston Consulting Group reported average gains of $23,000 in revenue annually.
MYTH: Yelp reviews don’t matter, since the overwhelming majority of them are from teens and college kids.
FACT: Yes, you’ll find a fair share of college students rating their local pizza places on Yelp, but statistics show the majority of the site’s traffic comes from the 25-to-44-year-old demographic — many of whom have substantial incomes and could very well be your ideal audience. Regardless of what kinds of reviews you get (positive or negative) take the time to respond back.
For positive reviews, thank those who mentioned your company in a good light and let them know you want to stay in touch. For negative ones, keep in mind the reviewers’ emotions. As Yelp notes, it’s best to simply thank them (yes, even if it’s bad) and ask them what you could’ve done to make their buying or selling experience better.
To get a referral from positive and negative reviewers alike, actively re-engage communications with them and let them know you care about their experience working with you. You could even follow them on Yelp to show your appreciation, which encourages them to spread word about your real estate business.
Learn all about sites like Yelp and what reviews mean for your real estate business by reading The Agent’s Guide to Real Estate Reviews.
Have you created a Yelp page yet? Tell us your thoughts about the review site in the comments below.
Published on July 21, 2014
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.