The internet is now becoming the preferred way for many people to do business, and thus it seems only fitting that it also be the way people find out about businesses. Websites like yelp.com have thus found a niche and drawn in a lot of visitors interested in learning what others think about businesses in their area. Yelp.com provides user reviews of businesses in your town, as well as social networking and local yellow pages services. If you own a business, you will want to fix negative reviews on Yelp.
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TIP: Yelp is very popular, and has a lot of Google traffic. Ignoring reviews there about you will not be wise!
Yelp.com has enjoyed quick success, going from launch in 2004 to a site that has well over 50 million unique monthly visitors now. Rumor has it that Google even offered to purchase Yelp.com in 2009 for more than 500 million. Among the features that have made Yelp.com popular is a local search that allows visitors to find businesses of a particular type in their area. Results will tell the user how many businesses match that type, as well as where they are.
Another popular feature of Yelp.com is their online reviews. Yelp allows users to give a rating and a review to any business that is advertised on their site. Customers like this feature, as it gives them an ability to voice their complaints or compliments of a business they have patronized in their area. When another user is looking for, say, a pizza place, they then can read other people's reviews and use them to decide where to eat.
If you're a business owner, the influence of those reviews can be a blessing or a curse. Unfortunately, human nature dictates that you're more likely to post a review of a negative experience than a positive one; it also dictates that negative reviews will carry more weight with Yelp.com users. Thus, many business owners are faced with the prospect of having to repair a reputation that was damaged on Yelp.com, sometimes without them even knowing about it for months.
The damage can be real. Even if a business owner finds it hard to see differences in sales in proximity to a review on Yelp.com, word of mouth can have long-lasting effects on a person's opinion, and word of mouth is technically what Yelp.com is. And sometimes the negative reviews are not even factually accurate. Instances have been reported where a negative review was given before a business had even opened!
There are several ways business owners can deal with negative reviews. One is to respond to the complainant on Yelp.com, in the public sphere where all can see. Of course the response should be courteous and aim to correct the error pointed out by the customer. Additionally, there are now public relations groups that specialize in improving a business' image on sites like Yelp.com.
Business owners can also use negative reviews on sites like Yelp.com to their advantage by utilizing them to recognize potential flaws before they turn into serious repetitive problems. By doing this, a small business can turn a potential internet foe into a friend. It is thus by accepting the new state of online instant feedback about a business experience, instead of fighting against it, that business owners can be successful in the new millennium.
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