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Work to turn a frown into a smile to boost your restaurant39s overall ratings Thinkstock
<p>Work to turn a frown into a smile to boost your restaurant&#39;s overall ratings.</p>

5 ways to cultivate devoted fans online

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According to a study by The Nielsen Company, 78 percent of consumers turn to review sites to find a local business to patronize. The same study found people were overwhelmingly using Yelp as their review site of choice.

To make the most of that opportunity, business owners can not only claim a free Yelp business owner's account and update some of their business information, but also engage with their listings in a way that draws more attention and helps generate more natural review content.


First, a caveat: Yelp discourages review solicitation. For starters, this practice creates innate bias. As might be expected, most business owners are only going to ask happy customers to review their business, not the unhappy ones. Luckily, there are lots of ways to drive eyeballs to your Yelp Business Page and, in turn, gain some reviews without having to ask directly.

Here are the top five tips for business owners to get their customers to rave about them online, without asking for reviews:

1. Focus on incredible customer service. Yelp took a deep dive into its review content in 2012 to see how customer service affects reviews. We found that reviews mentioning good customer service are five times more likely to be five-star reviews rather than one-star.

2. Respond to reviews. Business owners can respond to reviews publicly or privately through Yelp for Business Owners. Remember, when responding to comments, it is important to remain professional, thank reviewers for their feedback and share any updates that have been made to your business as a result. Consumers see a response to a negative review as the business valuing the customer’s experience and wanting to engage with consumers on a personal level.

3. Share your Yelp reviews on other platforms. When you have a great review, you want people to see it. You can now log into Yelp For Business Owners and share your reviews on other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter or via email. We’ve even seen businesses print their reviews and frame them for display.

4. Be proud of your Yelp page. Beyond just telling your patrons they can find your business on Yelp, make it visible in your store, on your company vehicles or on your website. You can always request a “Find Us On Yelp” sticker here.

5. Set up a check-in offer or Yelp certificate. Having a check-in offer helps you look more appealing to a mobile customer searching on Yelp. A promotion (i.e. a free appetizer with an entrée for a check-in) gives them one more incentive to eat in your restaurant. Additionally, whenever someone checks into a business or buys a Yelp certificate, the user is prompted to write a review for that business the next time they use Yelp.

Emily Washcovick is a manager of local business outreach at Yelp.

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