Disclaimer. I'm definitely not a Yelp Guru. I'm still very new to it. But these are the simple things that I did that made a big difference for me. Hopefully you get similar results.
Let's start with where I went wrong:
We set it up and uploaded a bunch of pictures and put in some of our basic info. At the time we were also setting up about 20 other profiles on similar sites so we put no time or effort into it and only did the bare minimum. It only had our name, website, phone number and a few pictures. If you searched for us by name it pulled up our profile but if you searched for something like guitar lessons or music lessons....nothing. Even though I had us classified under Music Lessons and Instruction.
Here's why....they are looking for content and they seem to rank you based on content. So I started filling in our content. Yelp makes this super easy and will even guide you through the process. There are a few categories that you need to fill out.
Most directory websites have something similar and I decided to really start using mine to be unique. Every place that offers music lessons is going to say basically the same thing...I wanted to stand out. Our niche is that we are very community minded and laid back and help students to embrace and develop their uniqueness through music and community. Like an Island of Misfit Toys. Our profile reads that way. Another important thing is to use keywords that people will search for. I included every instrument that we teach and some variations. For example, I made sure to include the word sing as well as voice lessons in case someone searches for singing lessons. Talk about everything that your studio offers and what makes you special. We also mentioned our Little Rockers music class for kids and I mentioned babies, toddlers, and preschool as keywords in case someone searches for toddler music classes. This is the space to let your studio identity and philosophy really shine through.
Use this space to talk about where you started and how you've grown. Take the opportunity to brag a little about your humble beginnings and how you've worked hard to end up where you are now. Talk about the studio, not yourself. That's coming next. What are you doing as a studio that you weren't doing last year?
I also used this space to mention awards that we have won. This is the space where people want to see that you have been around long enough to be trusted and that you are continuing to learn, grow, and innovate.
Meet The Business Owner
Get really personal here. People want to see a real, living, breathing person. Talk about your personal accomplishments, how you got started with music, what led you to start your studio, and any other personal information you feel comfortable sharing. Talk about YOU. Let people make a connection.
I used the space to talk about what makes me unique: I play a bunch of different instruments. A multi-instrumentalist educator and studio owner is different and gives me a unique perspective. I talk about being married with a kid and dogs. Not having a family isn't a dealbreaker but I think it works to my benefit for potential parents and students to know that I have a child of my own and that I've been married for almost a decade.
You have the opportunity to post a picture of you here as the owner. Make it count. If you run a really formal studio, post a formal picture. We're laid back and community and family oriented so I posted a picture of me and my son on a hike.
**Note: Apparently Yelp has to review your user photo before it appears and this could take a few days.**
Yelp gives you the chance to recommend other local businesses. I don't see many other pages taking advantage of this and I definitely think you should! I listed a few but it looks like only the first one comes up on our page. For us, that was the Guitar Store that I mentioned in our previous blog. I'm glad to give a shout out to another awesome local business and I think it helps for people to see that you're a team player. Local businesses have to stick together so think of a good one to recommend!
You have the opportunity to post pictures of your studio. Post some awesome ones. Here's some mistakes I made. Don't post stock photos. Don't post real photos that look like they could be stock photos. Post pictures of happy students. Post pictures that highlight your studio. Post pictures of your students performing. Post LOTS of pictures. You want people to be able to scroll through and see how diverse and awesome your studio can be. You want them to connect to these photos and be able to envision their kids as happy and talented too. You never know what pictures will resonate with people so make a good selection.
Also, take the opportunity to write a short caption for each picture. You know what is happening, but prospective students don't. Use this opportunity to sell your studio! Talk about the gigs that your students get to play. Talk about how excited you were when a student finished a lesson book. Show pictures of happy teachers and students. Show group classes and private lessons. Professional pictures are great but candid shots from your phone are good too! People want to see real. That's what Yelp is about.
This is really the heartbeat of Yelp. And they take it seriously. It's a lot easier to get reviews on Google or other sites. They filter reviews pretty strongly so some reviews may not show up. Still, it doesn't hurt to try to get some of your students to write you reviews. It seems like reviews often don't show up if it's from someone that is posting their first review and is new to Yelp. I'm going to try adding a badge to my website to see if we can get students to review. A fellow teacher with an awesome Yelp page did write me a review and I feel like that definitely helped Yelp to take my page a little more seriously. Try to get at least one legitimate review, but obviously the more the merrier!
So, that's my experience with Yelp so far. I haven't gotten any students or inquiries yet but I feel like it's helping to boost my SEO and taking the time to do these few simple tasks definitely made a SIGNIFICANT boost in how I am viewed on Yelp.
Two days ago you could only find me if you searched for me by name. Now I'm in the top 3-5 in every search, often ranking over the local big guys that I can't top on Google searches. I'm still tweaking my page but you can check it out here if you're interested.
Have you had a great or awful experience with Yelp? Any tips to do it better? Let us know!