How to Begin Claiming Your Online Review Profiles with Google+ Local and Yelp

January 20, 2014 9:22 am Leave your thoughts

How to Begin Claiming Your Online Review Profiles with Google+ Local and Yelp

Studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of consumers will consult the Internet before making a purchase. When sites such as Google Places for Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and MerchantCircle appeared on the scene, many businesses failed to understand the impact that these informational tools would have on their sales and customer retention. Reviews of any nature – negative or positive – will have a significant effect on your search rankings.

Local business reviews and ratings sites like Yelp are designed to allow consumers the opportunity to read and share opinions about businesses, services and products. Some sites organized information based on city and state, while others focus on a particular niche. Customers needing a place to speak their piece will more often than not go online to voice their displeasure.

If a consumer is interesting in visiting your business for the first time, a review site is generally the first place to look. In many cases, these online portals of information are giving your prospective customers their first impression of your abilities. Regular reviews are an important tool for both your search rankings and your customer retention and acquisition. Businesses with a slew of positive reviews are highly considered by Google and by prospective customers.

If the majority of your reviews were written four years ago, you’ll need to put an emphasis on encouraging more recent customers to share their reviews online. There are wildly different metrics for sorting through reviews. Remember that your positive reviews might not shoot to the top of Google search rankings or your review site profiles.

The Federal Trade Commission has recently cracked down on businesses that are posting fraudulent reviews. Not to mention that Google can easily determine the validity of your post. Your business runs the risk of being stripped from review sites completely if any unwarranted activity is suspected.

As a business owner, it’s imperative to claim your page on Google+ Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Facebook and Merchant Circle, as well niche-specific review sites that are tailored to your specific industry. Update your contact information and develop an in-depth profile that keeps customers informed. A profile with product and service descriptions, business hours, videos, photos and links to your social-media properties will boost your status on individual review sites and search engines. Claiming your profile on review sites can also allow you to offer exclusive discounts and coupons, further establishing your relationship with customers.

Yelp is perhaps the most dominant review site on the market. First, business owners will search for their business listing by name and location. If site users have previously posted reviews about your business, the listing will appear and business owners can simply click “Claim”. If not, they will need to create a new page. The next step is to sign up for a Yelp account. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to verify your information before claiming the page. Yelp then sends you an approval and you can start adding content to the listing.

How to Claim a Business on Yelp

Step 1: Go to the Yelp website.

Step 2: Enter your business name and store address on the search fields and click “Search”.

Step 3: Select your business on the list of Yelp search results.

Step 4: Click the link “Work here? Unlock this business page”.

Step 5: On the page “Unlock Free Tools to Grow a Business,” click the button “Go to Step 1”.

Step 6: Fill out the requested information (name, email address and password) and click on the “Continue” button.

Step 7: Check the code and the phone number at the bottom of this page. Click on the “Call Me Now” button.

Step 8: During the automated phone call, enter the provided 4-digit code into the phone keypad.

Step 9: You will receive a confirmation email that provides access to all features of the control panel.

Step 10: To start managing your business listing, click the “Go to your Yelp for Business Owners Dashboard”.

The Dashboard allows you to verify that your phone number, address and website are correct and can be edited when necessary. You can add your hours of operation, history, specialties and any other relevant information. If you click on the “Photos” link, you can add an exterior and interior photo to provide current and prospective customers a better understanding of your business.

Starting a profile on Google Places for Business is also quite simple. For business owners who already hold a Google account, you’ll be asked to sign in. If not, creating one only takes a minute or two. Once you’ve signed into your Google account, you’ll be given the option of searching for your business. Type both your business name and location into the search box for the best results. If no results appear, you can add a new business listing. This listing can be filled out with contact information, payment options, business hours, and products and services offered. Business owners have the opportunity to preview the profile before verification.

How to Claim Your Business on Google+ Local

The popularity of Google has enabled Google+ Local to gain a number of reviewers and users, making Google Places a rapidly growing source of local ratings and recommendations and ratings.

Step 1: If you do not yet have a Google ID, you’ll need to create one. Just visit the Google New Account page to create your Google ID. Fill in all the required information, such as email, location, password, etc. After completion, you’ll receive an E-mail asking you to confirm your new account.

Step 2: Go to Google Places and find your listings by entering your business’s phone number. Google will check if it already has some info on your business. If the information is incorrect, you can edit it after you’ve successfully claimed your listing

Step 3: Claim your business listing from the search results that appear.

Step 4: Verify all of your information, select your location settings and area, and enter your business’s hours of operation.

Step 5: Select payment options, upload your company logo and photos.

Step 6: Upload a video to your Google Places listing if you like. Then choose how you want to validate your listing. Once you’re done, click “Finish” to complete company listing details.

Step 7: Wait for a letter with your PIN and other instructions for activation. Then enter the 5-digit pin number under the Status section. Select “Go” to complete the process.

Yelp and Google+ Local are just the two major examples. Sites like CitySearch, Merchant Circle, Foursquare and Facebook will also play an important role in your online reputation regardless of industry. Doctors (,, hoteliers (TripAdvisor, Travelocity) and restaurant owners (Urbanspoon, Open Table) must pay close attention to sites devoted to their services.

In terms of the impact of online reviews, the numbers don’t lie. In a study from Dimensional Research, 86 percent of respondents said their purchasing decisions were influenced by negative online reviews, and 90 percent were influenced by positive reviews. A 2011 Harvard Business School study examining restaurant online reviews discovered that “a one star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.”

A 2012 Cornell University study examined hotel review sites such as TripAdvisor and Travelocity. It found that a 1-point increase in ratings (on a 5-point scale) would allow the hotel to increase its price by an average of 11.2 percent. Bottom line: Better online scores translate into larger company profits.

Whether you’re a well-established business or a hard-charging startup, gathering positive customer reviews is a vital task in your online marketing activities. Bolstering your business’s visibility will attract new customers and increase your standing on search engines.

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Aaron Kocourek

Chief Strategist at Reputation Advocate
Aaron Kocourek serves as Chief Technology Officer for Third Coast Interactive, Inc. (TCI). He is primary responsible for the overall development of mobile based applications including The Review Solution.