We talk to a lot of small businesses that are on the fence about whether or not they need a website. One of the most common reasons we hear for why business owners don’t think they need a website is that they have a successful Yelp page.
Today we want to cover why a Yelp page is not a substitute for a business website.
- Yelp doesn’t make up 100% of local searches
There’s no denying that Yelp can be a powerful source of referrals for your business. It’s probably even safe to say that when you ask new customers how they found out about you, Yelp is among the most mentioned. That’s great! Keep using Yelp to increase your business.
However, just because Yelp is working doesn’t mean that nothing else is. There is a reason that searches with the term “near me” have surged 34 times since 2011. Google, Bing, TripAdvisor, YellowPages, niche directories, and countless other ways all help people find choose the business they will give their hard earned money to. Why would you want to miss out on these opportunities?
The reality is that each person has their own preference for finding local businesses. You should try to make it as easy as possible for them to search for you. Make sure to list your business anywhere and everywhere that people are searching for businesses like yours. For more on business listings, read our previous post on the matter.
Remember though, each one of these places has their own feel, choice of information displayed, and rules on how customers can interact with you. When you have a website, you make the rules. You choose how your business looks. You give them a home to come to regardless of where they started their search for you.
- Local traffic doesn’t just come from locals
When discussing “local searches” it’s easy to forget that 33% of local business searches come from non-locals. You read that right, a third of your searches are coming from people that are just passing through or on vacation.
It’s not so strange when you really think about it. What do you do when you’re out of town? How do you find food, drinks, somewhere to shop? You use local search to find out what this new city has to offer you.
Keep thinking about when you were searching for these places while on your adventure. How often did you want to learn more about the business? A website is a great way to show that potential customer what your business is all about.
- Yelp filters reviews
Have you ever been looking at a yelp page and seen, “15 other reviews that are not currently recommended” at the bottom of the page? Yelp filters out almost a quarter of reviews it deems biased.
Yelp filters these reviews according to their own criteria like user activity, amount of friends, amount of reviews, etc. These factors are focused on keeping people engaged with Yelp, not your business. As a result, you have no control over what a new customer sees on your Yelp page.
Guess where you can choose what and where reviews are shown? Your website! We aren’t trying to mislead you though. Your reviews on sites like Yelp will be taken more seriously because most people feel it’s more honest since you can’t disregard the bad reviews. That doesn’t mean they still won’t see the stellar review on your website and be wowed.
What do you do when you have a question or problem you need help with? You probably Google it. When your business is the answer to that question problem, you want to be the first result to show in up that Google search. The process of getting to to the top of these search results is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO is unbelievably important for creating “organic traffic” – traffic that comes to your website through people searching for something and clicking on a search result. Since more than 95% of search traffic comes from 1st page results, ranking on the first page is very important.
Although Yelp pages do rank in search results, they generally only rank for search terms like “near me,” not general questions or problems. If your business answers a particular question, you want people searching for the answer to find your business.
With your own website, you control what content is being indexed by search engines. This gives you the opportunity to be ranked in search results and get that highly coveted organic traffic.
- Yelp’s credibility is being questioned
There have been reports of Yelp’s questionable practices. Whether you believe what they are doing is wrong or not, the fact is that Yelp is, first and foremost, a business. Their main focus is to make sure they are successful. You can’t fault them for this, but you should always keep in mind the fact that they will do what increases their bottom line, even if it comes at the sacrifice of your business.
Want to know what website is guaranteed to only have your own business’s interests at heart? *Queue broken record* Your own website! It really can’t be said enough. The only place where you have complete control over your online presence is your own website.
The reality is that you can never market your business too much. You also don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. What happens if Yelp suddenly changes the rules or shuts down? Are you willing to risk your entire business?
A website really does put you in control. Yes, there are costs associated with it, but considering so many small business websites we create cost under $1,000 (and come with up to one year of free hosting), it probably isn’t the biggest cost you’re going to incur to keep your doors open.