Should You Pay for Yelp Advertising?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Yelp sales team must be working double time. In the last month, I’ve received several inquiries from my clients about advertising with the review site. I’ve never promoted Yelp advertising to my clients as I’ve always had ethical questions with their algorithm and their management. That’s always been my opinion, but there’s no denying that a ton of people use and trust the app.

Rather than give an opinion, I’ve spent a few hours this week researching what other marketing agencies are recommending based on their experiences with their clients. I now have a more concise conclusion.

What Are You Getting with Yelp Advertising?

When you sign up for their Sponsorship Program, your business’s profile on Yelp becomes enhanced with a slideshow, highlighted reviews (you can highlight your favorite reviews), and sponsored search results. Essentially, when someone uses a search engine to type in keywords applicable to your business, your Yelp page will show up on the results page.

Burble Manifest Software


High Traffic 

According to Yelp, over 145 million unique visitors use the Yelp app monthly. So, there’s a lot of eyeballs searching for a lot of things. 


Consumers view Yelp as a credible source for information. To date, there are 102 million Yelp Reviews across 2.8 million listed businesses.

Easy To Use 

Using Yelp is easy. Potential customers can read reviews on a business without having to setup an account. Ease of access leads to higher exposure for your business and an easy way for potential guests to contact you. 


Customers expect to find all businesses on Yelp. The platform is well known that an unlisted company can give the perception that it’s not as credible as its competitors. 

Minimal Ads 

Yelp displays only one or two ads per search

Removes Competitor Ads 

Yelp’s enhanced listing allows you to remove competitors’ ads.

Sunpath Products



Or as my clients like to say, that fu****g algorithm. Yelp’s algorithm is designed to filter fake reviews, but it’s uncanny how many great and honest reviews seem to get filtered, and the negative review from the yahoo who mistakenly reviewed your business instead of your competitor sticks. To say the algorithm is maddening for business owners is an understatement.

It’s Expensive

The pre-requisite for running ads on Yelp is to have an ‘enhanced listing’ which is $350 per month. Add cost per click advertising on top of it, and it can start to get very expensive.

Digital Strategy

My strategy for digital marketing is to drive traffic back to a business’ website. If your Yelp ad shows up in a Google search result, the consumer will click into your Yelp page and not your business’ website. The information on the Yelp profile is limited, and if you have few Yelp reviews (or many of your positive reviews have been filtered), then that does not leave the best impression.

Long Term Contract

Yelp doesn’t allow an opportunity to test the waters with their advertising. Contracts lock business owners in for 12 months.

Limited Tracking Data

I’m a big fan of Google AdWords because of the data. What keywords are driving the most traffic to your site? You’re not able to attain this degree of data to better understand consumer behavior. 


Having read more than a dozen blogs, my initial thoughts on Yelp feel more justified. I’ve read about many business owners who feel that they have not received a positive ROI on their investment. I have read where some business owners claim to have had success, but that feedback seems to be few and far between. There are many reports of very pushy salespeople.

On the whole, I would recommend a business investing more in Google AdWords but, I do recommend being listed on Yelp (for free) and encouraging guests to review their experience as much as possible.

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