Advertising on Yelp: What you should consider

by Toby

March 29, 2023

Yelp ads Worth It - Pros and Cons

Hey there, business owners and marketers! Are you ready to dive deep into the world of Yelp's advertising platform? This post offers ou unbiased, agency-tested, matter-of-fact feedback and insights that will empower you to make informed choices before investing your advertising dollars.

Yelp has a range of paid solutions up its sleeve, from Page Upgrades that enhance your page's appeal to enticing paid ads.

However, we're zeroing in on Yelp Ads in this post, and for good reason! While Page Upgrades have their perks, it's the ads that truly drive results for a business.

So, is it worth joining the Yelp Ads bandwagon to get your company noticed by potential prospects? This post will help you uncover the answer based on your unique situation. 

Prefer to watch a video?

Are Yelp Ads Worth it?

Yelp advertising can be an effective way for businesses to reach potential customers, but it's not without its drawbacks. And there are more effective options out there. Some of the most common concerns include:

  • Limited targeting options: While Yelp allows businesses to target users based on location and with keywords, the targeting options are not as sophisticated as those offered by other advertising platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads. This can make it more difficult for businesses to reach their ideal customers.
  • Mixed reviews on ad performance: Some businesses report success with Yelp advertising, while others claim they did not see significant increases in traffic or sales. This inconsistency in results can make it difficult for businesses to justify the expense.

  • Competition: Yelp ads often appear alongside competitors' listings, which means that users may still choose to patronize a different business, even if they click on an ad. This can be frustrating for businesses that invest in advertising, only to lose potential customers to their competitors.
  • Negative reviews: Yelp is well-known for its user-generated reviews, and businesses with negative reviews may struggle to benefit from advertising. Potential customers may be deterred by negative reviews, even if a business has a prominent ad placement.
  • Lack of Ad Transparency: The ad platform lacks transparency into what is producing sales and conversions and what is not. 

Don’t Take My Word For It 

As you read through the post, don’t forget to read the comments at the bottom for additional insight - there are dozens of comments from past Yelp advertisers and their first-hand experiences.  

One thing is certain:
Interest in Yelp Advertising has been steadily declining for several years. Below is a recent Google Trends graph highlighting declining search interest in Yelp Ads. 

Yelp Advertising Trend - Google Trends

Yelp Advertising Trend - Google Trends

Yelp Advertising Trend - Google Trends

Yelp Advertising Trend - Google Trends

First, Where Does Your Target Audience Hang Out?

Does your ideal customer visit Yelp often?

Not sure?

Study your competitors’ Yelp presence.

Make a list of businesses similar to yours in terms of products, services, target audience, and location. Consider both direct and indirect competitors. Search for their Yelp profiles. Are the profiles filled out well? Do you see ads from your competitors on Yelp? 

Not that your competitors’ strategies are the best for your business, but if not many in your local market have much of a presence there, then you should consider that. 

Next, Be Clear About Your Goals

Clearly defined advertising goals, such as increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or acquiring new customers, helps you stay focused on what you want to achieve with your advertising efforts. 

And when you clearly understand your objectives, you can dedicate resources—such as time and money—more effectively. 

This helps you maximize your return on investment (ROI) by prioritizing tasks and actions that directly contribute to achieving your goals. And at the end of the day, it helps maximize your cash flow - after all, the last thing you want is negative cash flow from advertising. 

For example, if you have specific sales goals, you might not be able to achieve those goals using Yelp Ads for various reasons. Perhaps there isn’t enough traffic on Yelp to achieve your sales goals. Or the cost is beyond your budget. There’s too much competition. Or your customer just isn’t on Yelp looking for you. 

Targeting Options

Geotargeting Options Of Yelp Ad Campaigns

Yelp provides a couple of options. You can target based on:

  • Zip Codes
  • City
  • Neighborhood
  • Or, you can set a radius with a minimum of 5 miles
  • Not all businesses have the same geotargeting available to them

For businesses that have the search volume in Yelp, you might see these two options. 

Yelp Ads Geotargeting Options

Yelp Ads Geotargeting Options

Yelp Ads Geotargeting Options

Yelp Ads Geotargeting Options

And for other businesses, you may only see the option for targeting based on a radius with no other options like city, zip code, or neighborhood. Below is an example for a spa business (related post here on Google Ads for Beauty Salons, Facebook Ads for Beauty Salons). 
Yelp Ads Geotargeting By Radius Only

Yelp Ads Geotargeting By Radius Only

Yelp Ads Geotargeting By Radius Only

Yelp Ads Geotargeting By Radius Only

If your target market is small geographically, say within a few miles of your location, you may have difficulty reaching enough customers. And likely, you’ll have wasted ad spend since the smallest radius you can target is 5 miles. 

From a reporting perspective, Yelp is not for you if you want data. There’s little you can change to affect performance other than change the actual geographic area of where your ads show, your budget, and the keywords you’re targeting. 

Below is an example of what Yelp shows regarding where ads show. In this particular case, it’s for a business in the Houston Heights area. These data are interesting but not helpful or actionable. 

Yelp Ads - Heatmap of Where Ads Show Geographically

Yelp Ads - Heatmap of Where Ads Show Geographically

Yelp Ads - Heatmap of Where Ads Show Geographically

Yelp Ads - Heatmap of Where Ads Show Geographically

What would be beneficial is to see where the actual conversions or phone calls were coming from, not just where the ads are served. 

In this case, this business’ clients are within a 3 - 5-mile radius. But notice the red-hot spot to the south near Pearland? This is likely wasted ad spend. This area is 25 miles away, and the drive can take anywhere from 30 min to an hour, depending on the time of day. But we’ll never know if the advertising in Pearland is worth it since we cannot see conversion data on the map.

In comparison, in Google Ads, you have greater flexibility in your geotargeting and transparency on what geo areas drive results. 

For example, in Google Ads, you can see where conversions, phone calls, clicks, and impressions are coming from geographically. Then, you can bid more aggressively using bid modifiers for areas you know convert more searchers to customers making your ad spend as efficient as possible and eliminating wasted ad spend.

Keyword Targeting: What Keywords or Topics Is Yelp Showing Your Ads For?

Similar to Google Ads, you can choose keywords for your business. Here’s an example of a plumber:

Yelp Ads - Keyword Selections

Yelp Ads - Keyword Selections

Yelp Ads - Keyword Selections

Yelp Ads - Keyword Selections

Like the geo-targeting issue earlier, there’s minimal transparency in what keywords or topics your ads are showing for. Some of your keywords perform well, and some just burn your budget, but you’ll have no idea.

Unlike Google Ads, where you have complete control and transparency with keywords and topics, you are limited in the Yelp ad platform. And that’s the scary part – how much ad money are you wasting on keywords or topics that are not producing sales and profit? I would imagine Yelp doesn’t show that to advertisers because if it did, advertisers would spend a fraction of what they could be spending once they uncovered underperforming keywords.

What Is The Cost To Advertise On Yelp?

Yelp charges you based on CPC (cost-per-click).

The CPC you pay varies widely – advertisers pay as low as $0.30 per click (for some food establishments) and more than $50+ per click for more competitive niches like personal injury law. You can choose your ad budget and set it as low as $5 per day.

Generally speaking, Yelp cost-per-clicks in some industries is less than Google Ads in Search campaigns. But Yelp also provides less ad efficiency and effectiveness. 

However, suppose you’re in a highly competitive niche where the cost-per-click (CPC) is very high in Google, as it is personal injury law or leak detection for plumbers. In that case, you may consider adding Yelp ads to your marketing mix in addition to a Google Ads campaign.

Here’s an anecdotal example of a personal injury law firm using Yelp Ads and Google Ads. The cost per lead coming from Yelp was slightly lower. And for leads, we didn’t count leads as Yelp counts them, but instead as calls and messages. 

Yelps Ads vs Google Ads Cost Per Lead Comparison

Yelps Ads vs Google Ads Cost Per Lead Comparison

Yelps Ads vs Google Ads Cost Per Lead Comparison

Yelps Ads vs Google Ads Cost Per Lead Comparison

Remember that this niche is highly competitive ($50 per click on Yelp, $200+ per click in Google Ads). However, for many other businesses, the competition is less fierce. 

Campaign Performance Metrics 

The first chart here shows the “leads” breakdown. I put leads in quotations because that is a loosely defined term with Yelp. Most of what Yelp calls “leads” are not leads, as most business owners would describe them.

I define a lead for this business as someone who booked an appointment, called and wanted to know more about the company, or submitted a form online. I estimate that ONLY 10% - 15% of what they call “leads” are true leads. But the data do look lovely in a chart, so there’s that (lol). 

Yelp Ads - Leads Breakdown and Sources

Yelp Ads - Leads Breakdown and Sources

Yelp Ads - Leads Breakdown and Sources

Yelp Ads - Leads Breakdown and Sources

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of leads:

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of leads:

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of leads:

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of leads:

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of leads:

Very few Directions and Map Views are legit leads - many of those may be repeat customers or people just checking to see how far away you are from them and whether it’s worth the drive. Similar situation with Website Visits - many people want to learn more about you, but a low percentage are converting to actual leads (i.e. booked appointments).

What Does Yelp Do Well?

Yelp does a good job with SEO and ranking its pages in Google searches which means potentially more exposure for you as a Yelp advertiser.

Many queries in Google will show Yelp pages appearing at the top of the organic listings For example, below are the search results in Google for the query, “med spas near me.”  Yelp is the first traditional organic listing, so it’s pulling in traffic for Google searches which can benefit you. 

Yelp Ranks Pages in Google Search

Yelp Ranks Pages in Google Search

Yelp Ranks Pages in Google Search

Yelp Ranks Pages in Google Search

Don’t expect your business’ Yelp page to rank in Google – most of Yelp’s pages ranking in Google are its category or search pages, not individual business pages. The key point is that if you’re advertising on Yelp, you can capture more traffic than just Yelp’s internal traffic – in this case, the organic traffic that’s coming from Google as well.

Diminishing Returns for Yelp from Google

However, Yelp’s presence in Google continues to diminish as Google maximizes its own opportunities. 

Because Google is dominating the top part of its search pages so well with its own properties (Local Service Ads, Google Ads, Google Local Packs, Featured Snippets ranking in position 0, etc), it’s increasingly difficult for Yelp to continue to acquire non-paid traffic from Google organic searches and thus deliver more traffic to Yelp advertisers.

This trend with Yelp’s pages ranking in Google is most evident with service-based businesses where Google shows the following properties ahead of Yelp pages:

Google pushes the Yelp organic listings way below the fold and below its own properties.

In Summary

Overall Positives

  1. 1
    Yelp ads will increase your exposure inside Yelp - without Yelp ads, you won’t reach many new prospects
  2. 2
    Ad options have become more flexible for advertisers removing contracts (pay-as-you-go options are available with no long-term contracts), page upgrades, and ads
  3. 3
    There’s plenty of awareness among consumers in specific industries that Yelp is a source for reviews (that’s subjective, of course), so Yelp will likely maintain its own internal traffic for some time. However, Google Reviews in most cases, take precedence over Yelp reviews with consumers
  4. 4
    Lower cost-per-click in some industries compared to other channels like Google Ads
  5. 5
    Yelp ranks its own pages well within Google, although this is diminishing

Overall Negatives

  1. 1
    No transparency on what keywords or topics you’re spending your ad dollars on
  2. 2
    The Yelp app skews to a younger demographic which may not align with your target audience (the younger demographic was uncovered in our survey)
  3. 3
    Lack of transparency in the ad platform to cut back on wasted ad spend
  4. 4
    Difficult to verify the actual economic value of leads coming from Yelp ads (compared to other paid channels like Google and Facebook

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

  • Lance Throttle says:

    I use yelp for my other business, I fear listing it as my Yelp credibility could get even worse than it already is. I have been paying the evil dollar to yelp to the tune of $550 a month. The filter has us losing our mind. The positive reviews do not stick more often. I can’t wait until my yelp contract is up. Do not sign up and do not pay them the monthly fees.

    • Chris Rodriguez says:

      i agree, i only got he 6 month plan and i regret it now. its 325 monthly which is ridiculous for not even getting any leads from it. I get more leads from traditional advertisement and word of mouth than what yelp has ever claimed to offer

      • Norma Christie says:

        Yes, I agree with Chris Rodriquez. I have a 3 month contract with Yelp & after over 150 clicks from the first month & half; and still haven’t received any new clients. I also think that something is wrong here. How could I have that many clicks & not even one prospect. I check the stats daily & I find it odd that the first two weeks of the month I only have one click per day; however I got 15 clicks overnight last month & again this month towards the end of the month & still not one new client. I’ve heard that Yelp is deceitful & I dare to say that it wouldn’t surprise me if a team member is clicking on my ad multiple times a day in order to receive the total budget amount I have set monthly.

  • I just got off the phone with yelp. Their packages are definitely a little weird and they were pushing me pretty hard to sign up here and now. I get great results with Google and if I was going to spend an extra $350-$550/month, I would put it in a place where I know people are clicking. The yelp packages they offered me were for impressions, and it was a moderately low impression count. It came out to around $.70/impression, which in Google Ads is outrageous. Anyway, after reading your review, I believe I will stay away from it until they get into the world of CPC.

    Dr. Canfield

    • Yes, good points Dr. Canfield! I’ve tried with several clients to get more transparency on Yelp results and distill results down to a cost per lead but they always come in higher than other tactics. Yelp does offer a CPC option, but they set it at $3/click — it’s not a Google efficient real-time auction for keywords.

      • Jaime Mansfield says:

        My ‘wanna be” rep, who was trying to get me to come aboard as a yelp client, quoted me $4 a click, capping the ceiling at 25 clicks would be the most I’d be charged for. I told her we weren’t ready at this time.

        • Eva Cotter says:

          they told me $4 per click too. They’ve charged me two months in a row, over $8 per click. They just charge up to the limit of your ad spend budget, which for me is $600, so, magically, my bill this month is $600. Imagine that!

          • Michael D. Elliott says:

            WOW, you are fortunate! I just cancelled after getting charged $18 per click! That is absolutely ridiculous!

            Yelp is only in business because there are enough suckers out there!

          • Eva Cotter says:

            $18 per click????? Un heard of! We need to spread the word.

          • Ours was 20.00 x 4 clicks, AND THEY WERE TELEMARKETERS!

    • Phillip, I generally recommend clients tap their budget on Google first if possible before moving to Yelp. Leads are pre-qualified in Google search and Google is a proven advertising channel with results that are easily measured. Understanding results from Yelp is more difficult.

  • 7 days after signing up Yelp,
    I canceled the account.paying $600.00 early termination fee is way better than sticking to them for a year.

    • Mike Creel says:

      I got the high pressure sales pitch and finally gave in hoping that it would help. I was promised that all my competitor’s ads would be removed from my page. What I quickly found was that Yelp moved the competitor ads to the bottom of my page and calls it “best of Yelp”. I called Yelp to see if there was some way of having the ads removed, and they insisted that its not an “ad” for my competitor because it is placed at the bottom of the page and everyone has them. It sure looks like a competitor being advertised on my page. Does anyone know where we can rate Yelp’s advertising??

  • As a business owner, Yelp is basically it is a shakedown. Their advertising doesn’t produce, but they may gradually delete negative reviews, which can help your business. Kind of like paying off the concentration camp guards so they give you favorable status.

  • I would prefer not to be listed on yelp ever, but consumer like to check out business on yelp and your positive reviews will not stay on the site unless you have advertising account. This is form of blackmail from yelp, and I would say that this is disturbing tendency. Business community should be aware of this business practice.

    • WLV Lighitng says:

      That’s not accurate at all. I have 4 5 star reviews for my business and have never given a dime to Yelp.

    • Vicki, I agree greatly! Def. feels like blackmailing. All of our new reviews would get filtered until we began advertising with them. then they all magically came back. A few months later got a call from our rep and was asked to increase our budget, i told him that it was not possible at the time and what do ya know. 4 positive reviews were filtered 2 days later.

    • Ashley Nguyen says:

      I agree with you. We are a startup business and did not advertise on Yelp. They filtered 7 out of 9 reviews from our patients and part of the reason is that we decided not to do business with them. They kept on calling us and emailing us to do so, but I felt like I’ve been bullied by Yelp.

  • Screaming Stone says:

    Like others have mentioned – the Yelp ad rep tried pushing the Cost Per Impression method – $350 for 600 impressions/month requiring I commit to one year contract. When I inquired about the Cost Per Click, the rep had very little knowledge about the product, continuously stated that that was not what I wanted – and pretty much made me reconsider working with him at all as an ad rep. We are considering the $3.50/click program – because it has other advantages. They need to reconsider their sales training.

  • Great review ! So Helpful I was going to advertise with them but just found out there is a one year contract and no guarantee of any kind !
    This helped a lot.

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad it was helpful. I would look to Google Adwords first before going to Yelp if your goal is lead generation.

      • beyondbrandi says:

        Totally, I literally am deciding right now…and the rep has been calling every 3 hours….just that alone is annoying! ugh.

  • I don’t like Yelp. Even though they are saying that if you pay them it doesn’t affect your reviews, I decided to test it out myself. I can’t give 100% if it was true and not random algorithm change, but you can make your final decision yourself. So they called me with an advertise offer. I said them that I had only 3 reviews and 4 filtered ones. My point was to get my filtered reviews back so I had something to show and only after that I could start advertising. What if Yelp filters all my reviews and I sign up a year contract – doesn’t make any sense. Then I ask them to call me next day. Believe it or not but one of my reviews got back from filter, so I had +1 review when they returned a call next day. This company doesn’t seem playing white hat all the time at least I made this decision for myself after all my conversations with Yelp and following all its behavior. Conclusion: I have all 5 star reviews and I have constant traffic that comes from Yelp, BUT I would wish if Yelp disappears one day – ASAP 🙂 P.S. the review that I got back after first conversation as a sort of ‘deposit’ (probably) got filtered in two-three days after my second conversation when they failed to make a sale.

    • sandra Vitale says:

      It’s sad that Yelp does that to almost all the small businesses. I recently started a salon faced by heavy competition in the locality, I was struggling to get new clients being my first. That’s why i made my Yelp account, much to my horrifying days they started pushing me to buy their packages. Just because I said no to their advertising all my previous reviews got filtered out. It’s been 3 months and yet no reviews stick on to my page, still everything gets filtered away. The best thing to do is not to answer their calls. To avoid them and believe as if they don’t exists. Personal advice even better stop using Yelp. Stick to google.

  • Heads up – Yelp finally rolled out a true PPC campaign recently. It still has lacks the transparency of Google AdWords and has the silly contract and monthly fee though.

  • I just signed on with yelp. I felt the video they now offer would help my business stand out among the competition. After two weeks of advertising, I am so ready to quit. I put a halt to my video shoot because I am listed 52nd in a general search.
    For me and by the admission of my representative, the only results that matter are the top ten. I was told that my position could change if I offered a “yelp deal”, that means I offer my service for 20,40,50%off and give them a percentage. they have a great business model to maximize their control of advertisers.

  • I find I’m relying on Yelp as a consumer less due to inaccurate search results (burger joints show up on a Vietnamese food search, advertisers preempt higher reviewed businesses. As a business owner, I feel like they’re extorting us… a 4-review, 3.5 star business’s Yelp page shows up at the top of page 1 in Google search results despite our 8 review, 5-star business. So I don’t know if we should advertise to try to get on page 1 of Google searches (we could really use it), or if we should stick to our principles and not negotiate with extortionists.

  • Robert Marcos says:

    I invested in a Google Adwords campaign for almost five years. The results got worse over time, probably because a million wedding photographers entered the marketplace over that period. So I pulled it and have had no advertising whatsoever for the last two years, except for a free Yelp listing. It’s only because of the occasional BAD review that Yelp can be trusted. If they allowed no bad reviews than they’d just exist to make money. The fact is all of the local search lead portals charge – Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, and Google Adwords. Of the four of them Yelp leads by far in actual usage…


    • Google doesn’t have a local portal, but they drive far more awareness and leads for just about all businesses by a large margin over any other. Not sure exactly what happened to your campaign over time, but even in the most competitive industries (personal injury law where cost per click can be $150+) I’ve seen Google deliver.

      Some markets as yours (wedding photographer) are highly competitive but there are additional tactics to make Google Adwords campaigns much more effective, i.e. retargeting on both Google and Facebook for anyone that visited your site, or running targeted ads towards people on Facebook that are engaged and if they go to your website and you’re doing remarketing you can then follow them around for up to a year serving them ads reminding them of your service at very little cost — almost nobody converts on the first visit.

      Yelp has its place in some limited form, but a thorough well thought out marketing plan with multiple online tactics will make everything work better and will certainly out run your less savy competitors.

      • I am thinking of using Yelp but since reading the comments Google seems to be far better. What forms of advertisement should I use with Google?

        • Hi Michelle,
          Google offers two basic forms of advertisement: search and display. Search is often the best place to start. With search you are bidding on keywords that are relevant to your business so the benefit is that customers are pre-qualified since they had to type in a query related to your products or services – they are actively searching for you. You can also integrate remarketing campaigns too which allows you to follow customers around for up to 1 year serving them ads – this is very beneficial when you consider that only a small percentage of site visitors convert to a lead on the first visit to your site. Hope this helps.

  • Michael Denufrio says:

    I own a personal training company in providence RI . I am in the beginning stages with purchases of equipment, my website, and now marketing/ advertising. Yelp called me from AZ and a man named Daniel was EXTREMELY pushy with the sales. I don’t appreciate someone nearly forcing the advertising down my throat. He spoke very slow but when it came down to cancellation he very quickly stated the cancellation is $200. There is an annual commitment which seems very shady. I like yelp and think they are reputable but the sales approach really angered me. I will stick with google

  • zack craig says:

    The lady from yelp called me twice this week with all the sales pitches. I told her i was still thinking about it and she is going to call me again tomorrow. Its a good thing i read this article because i was locked with superpages and yellow pages who were not delivering for my other company and i was considering a new type of advertising venue for my new company but i will not go that way. They just want to lock me in for $350 a month and then they will disappear they can care less whether or not i get calls or not.

  • After 3 years of hundreds of phone calls from Yelp.com , I deal with a New York representative Meredith Hottinger who lie in very sweet way and sell $325.00 per month advertising program that should create 800 leads of clients who’s looking for airport transportation in New York.

    My small business “Abatar Car Service” locaten in Brooklyn NY was a victim of bogus advertising that created only 7 links or phone calls to my business. If you divide $325 in 7 leads it’s $46 for each leads.

    I argued with Ashley Wilbraham (My advertising Manager) about the enormous cost and zero business results and she told me “if I need better exposure” to be more aggressive and increase to $1000 a month . I refused because $325 was proving that was bogus advertising already. I better canceled. Am going to New York small claims court for the return of my money.

    Stay away from Yelp.com it’s a ripoff company that will steal your money and create difficulty’s to your company.

  • I almost signed up for yelp ads and locked myself in for a 1 year committment but when I logged in to my business owner account for the first time, (mind you, while on the phone with a yelp sales rep) the first page one lands on prompts the user to “Set Up Yelp Ads”. On that page it says “No contract. Cancel any time”. When
    I asked about, the rep said “oh that’s a different program” but when I read the agreement I was supposed to sign, it sounded like the exact same thing except for the 1 year commitment. Maybe I’m wrong & just didn’t understand all the jargon in my agreement, but the rep could not clearly explain the difference to me & was pressuring me to sign saying “the price increases on Monday”. It was Friday afternoon and I didn’t sign. It’s a shame they are so dishonest & aggressive because after hearing the initial sales pitch, I thought it sounded like just the boost my business needs right now.

  • martinw392 says:

    Yelp advertisers will be targets for other businesses being hurt by yelp, they will hit you with negative reviews to try and deter your support for yelp, I wouldn’t touch yelp if you value your good will and reputation.

  • I just got off the phone with yelp and must say I’m very surprised. The pricing seems a little silly to me, I was offered a 6 month contract at $325 per month for 500 impressions, early termination fee is 1 month on the 6 month contract and 2 months on the 1 year contract. It is $25 more for the same impressions if you choose a 1 year contract. What I don’t like is how few of my questions they were able to answer, I asked if I could pay to increase my service area and was told they didn’t know and I would have to speak with my account manager whom they are not able to forward me to until after I make the commitment. They also could not tell me how many others I would be competing against nor how often my ad would come up (every 8 searches or 12 or 50). The information was not available. I find it difficult to give this company $2000 of my hard earned money when simple questions cannot even be addressed.

  • My law firm decided to advertise on a Yelp for $375 per month with a free video and one year commitment. There’s an early termination fee of about $1000. It has been two months and we have seen no results. All our reviews remain filtered, competitor firms show up all around our “sponsored listing” and the whole experience has been underwhelming. Google AdWords produced much better results. Demanding an early termination penalty should have been the first clue that this campaign would be a dud.

  • EON Electric says:

    Great article! Thank you. I tried the Yelp paid advertising when I 1st joined and got nothing out of it, BUT… my local business had no reviews at the time.

    Now that I have some good reviews on there, I’m wondering if it would work better this time.

    Big fan of Yelp, just not sure about the “locked-in” one year commitment to their advertisement.

  • Daniel Chan says:

    They need to automate a bidding system and get rid of their pushy sales team, similar to what Facebook and Google does.

  • This was very helpful. We were considering using Yelp for our brand as well as for some of our clients but after reading this, I think we’ll pass. Thanks for the great article.

  • Ganesh Gs says:

    i signed up with Yelp advertising starting june1, 2014 and so far the results have been VERY DISAPPOINTING! 1 CLICK THRU TO MY WEBSITE AND 2 CALLS, THAT’s IT, i believe i’m not getting the number of impressions i was promised. they said i needed to sign up for a minimum of 12 months, mandatory, with a $200 early termination fee. i don’t recommend it, waste of money.

  • Eric Shaw says:

    I have to admit that yelp has been great for our business but I just can’t get around
    paying them to drive more people to our Business Listing and not to our Website. This is something that yellow pages and city search have done as well and it continues to fail. Also showing additional ads on competitor’s business pages doesn’t really jive to well with me. Google has done this with the business
    bubbles on google maps and all it does is confuse people and tricks them into
    clicking on ads. What bothers me the most is when customers call and say
    they saw our yelp listing and wanted to call but never got around to actually visiting
    our website. It leads me to believe that getting more people to visit our
    business listing is not the answer if they don’t click on the website link and for that reason I wouldn’t advertise on yelp.

  • Warren Peck says:

    I was very happy with my free Yelp business profile, so when the Yelp salesperson told me that with paid Yelp advertising I could expect great results almost immediately, I was suckered in. Not only did my leads from Yelp not increase, they actually decreased the month I started advertising with them. The second month, I noticed that I had only a 10% increase in my Yelp traffic, when I was told to expect 50% to 100% because I would be at the top of my category for 1300 views. Big waste of money, big money to get out of the contract, horrible customer service. I will never give Yelp another penny.

  • Joel LaRusic says:

    I paid for a pay-per-click campaign with Yelp and wished I hadn’t. First off, they charge you $100/month just for the privilege and then its about $5/click… so the net cost is about $10/click. Ridiculous (and not made clear by the way). I decided to cut my losses and cancel and pay the $200 cancellation fee but was told I had to give a months notice. I did that and just before it ended my Yelp guy called me and convinced me to give it another month and he did help me fix up my profile a bit. So another 3 weeks goes by and I’m getting nothing so I tell him I’m still going to cancel and he tells me I have to give ANOTHER 30 days notice. That’s a low blow. So, expensive and unethical business practices is my take on them (also untrustworthy but don’t even get me started on that!). Thanks for your review.

  • DO NOT ADVERTISE with Yelp. We are a small business that believed YELP to be a reputable way to advertise. We entered into a $250/month contract, and from the get go were not given what promised. I confirmed with the sales rep 3 times that we would be able to downgrade to $100 month if we were not seeing results and he said yes. When we tried to do so after the first 3 months we were told that this was not possible. We were paying a flat price with a monthly report showing Less than 4 clicks per month.WE never received 1 Call from Yelp! Often times we were still on the 6th page of yelp search for our industry in our zip code. We have 10 reviews that are not showing (only 3 that are). These are our customer, not paid reviews. We convinced them to allow us at least to change to a pay per click (yet were still being charged $200 for an “upgraded Profile.”) Suddenly they claim we are getting 60 Clicks per month and our bills increased! This is when, clearly, our report shows only 3 clicks. I can not believe how bad we got scammed. Put your money in Google – that is honest to advertisers and gets results. Advertising with Yelp was the biggest mistake we made!

  • Chrissy Lee says:

    Yelp Is AWFUL DO NOT SIGN UP WITH THEM!. They do nothing but market to you. They told me that the most inexpensive advertisement they have is $555 per month and if I even get that many clicks I will definitely make it up clients coming in, COMPLETE LIE, Now I have to pay an early termination fee of 1500 even though I am only 7 days into a year contract. AND i told them I was given information when I signed up I was given opposite information. Its free to be on yelp and they tell me after I sign up that I will not be receiving many clients for a few months. Its free to be on Yelp. Only Sign up if you can afford to give a company $2000 before seeing any results of it.

  • Chris Terry says:

    I too was suckered in to yelp, having established a great yelp on my own I became a target of their relentless sales calls. They promised to deliver 5 to 10 times more traffic to my page, which would lead to “thousands” of dollars in additional revenue. Man they are good at convincing people, I don’t know how the reps sleep at night.

    In the end I thought it was a great idea, month 1 of advertising I received 3 visits to my website. That’s a 300% DECREASE from my pre-advertising days. Month 2 I received a whopping 4 visits to my website, down 266% from my pre-advertising days. So I cancelled and they want to charge me a cancellation fee. Go efff yourself yelp, I gave you enough of my hard earned money for zip in return.

  • Thanks for your comment Robert – I do think Yelp ad results vary on industries as per your business it seems to be working well. If you can do short-term contracts as you have and then measure results I believe that is the best which allows you to exit if it’s not working.

  • Completely worthless and extremely over priced. They coaxed us into signing a contract, promising everything from a video to a 4 to 1 return on our ad spend. Once the contract was signed, I never heard from them again. Didn’t get a customer login, screenshots of any advertising campaigns, the video never materialized, we got ZERO customers and ended up spending almost $1,500 for exactly 5 (alleged) clicks on an ad that was placed on our own profile….that linked to our profile (aka: the same page). The only thing I got out of this was a bill and a bunch of BS from our sales rep. Hang up when they call.

  • Brian Benson says:

    I had a free listing on yelp. An ad rep called me and while she started off pleasant, turned rude at the end when I told her I wasn’t interested. When I looked for my company today,our companies listings have been taken off the site totally. And we don’t even exist on there site anymore. Talk about extortion

  • I joined Yelp as a paid advertiser on Febuary 9th and my page wiews increased dramatically day one fo rthe next 7 days until I pulled the plug. Every morning before 7:00 am it looks like Yelp served up my ads and I got burned bad for a week solid. Spent $900 and cannot contribute a single phone call or inquiry from Yelp.

    So who’s doing this a competitor protecting his advertising or Yelp raking in revenues. At this point I’m just happy I pulled the plug.

  • I wish I did not sing up the contract with yelp, but I did since I saw and was recommended to do it. But now I see o did a big mistake. They don’t do anything, I did increase calls advertising myself, that’s click impressions doesn’t look like it’s true , they just adjust it to the money you pay them monthly. I want to cancell my agreement with them but I don’t wanna pay them and this cancellation fee. Does anyone know who can I do it? they called me before all the time, but now when I want to cancell the agreement and talk to the Accountant manager Ashlee , and I tried to connect her they do not allow me to talk to her. They lied to me that it was a trial month. When I wanted to cancell their service in three days after I singed it , they said its a trial month you don’t need to pay anything. I got abt 8 calls from yelp to my business and they kept silence abt a minute that’s how they put calls and impressions. When I said to the yelp agent he cant say anything. Please If you know how to help me or give me an advise I’ll appreciate your help. Thank you.

    • Hi, unfortunately you will have to deal with your acct mgr at Yelp…it’s really up to her and her manager. If you signed a contract my sense is you will have to pay the cancellation fee to get out of it.

  • Thanks for the article. I had received a call form Yelp a week ago about advertising with them. Wanted to do some research and found what others have experienced.

  • I originally signed up with Yelp because I wanted to keep competitors’ adverts off my page. (We have a competitor who is a really aggressive advertiser!) I just cancelled my Yelp contract and sucked up the $600 early termination fee. We’re a very small business – highly personal service – with just 20 clients. I surveyed the most recent 10 and none of them had even visited the Yelp page. Just not a good ROI when not a single lead has come that way.

  • I just cancelled YELP and have to pay the early cancellation fee. My formerly nice account manager called last night to see “how he could help me.” Don’t think I have ever been that angry in a phone conversation. Everything he said was more insane than the earlier one. Our salesman emphasized that YELP would be as good for our service business as for a pizza place. Wrong! We teach reading. Search for reading and you get a company that had that word in a review not a company that has it in its name. Type in reading improvement and you get Lowes. Typing in reading instruction and you get Yoga. He said that when you use two words to use a comma. Like those searching would do that? That didn’t work either. Our ad only appeared once in a great while. Reviews sometimes show up and sometimes don’t. The salesman said that we could get more business with a special offer. But (after we signed the contract) we discovered that you can only offer dollars off but not say what the deal is for! I can’t yelp loud enough about YELP.

  • Here is the problem, I am advertising with them, and my 5 starts reviews are still hidden. Advertising with YElp doesn’t bring any positive results. I am so upset I sign up with them, the biggest mistake. Just have your customer give you positive review, after they review few more before, and they need to have friends on Yelp, other way, they would be hidden.

  • Anton Gio says:

    Do not go with YELP.. They’re just sucking money from your pocket

  • Toby danylchuk. I’ve ben with yelp now over 3moth and its not helping me at all, they told me, it would be guarantee help with advertise my business.. what I don’t no is the high percentage rates and they were real clever on getting me to join with them.. my bill this month is 350.00 with and this just on clicks. if I’d known it would have been like this I wouldn’t have never hooked up with me..

  • I was approached today by a one of their reps.

    I also found them to be pressuring and she wanted me to sign up today or I’d miss the June 1 deadline. DON’T CARE!

    In just the small amount of research I’ve done, I’ve found it probably won’t be worth it. I did a test on one of the example businesses she used in her presentation that was paying for ads. I searched from several different computers on different networks so that I could bypass any IP tracking that might give me different results. I also checked on my phone and a tablet.

    What I checked for was the prepopulated search category this business was focused on and their city and their zip code from their listing. The results I got were that this businesses ad never appeared on top of any results, additionally their business page showed up at the bottom of the second page from the computers and was the 56th result on the mobile devices.

    Also on each search, the top results were always businesses that could barely be classified in the same category and were businesses still using their free listing.

    Full disclosure, I still use Yelp and think it’s great to get reviews. I do however think most people will be best off using their free listing but directing their clients to review them as it seemed that the most reviews would show up at the top of the results.

  • I was told that I could create my own video and that I would get 350 impressions per month…neither were true. So now I’m disputing the charges including a $600 early termination fee.

  • Ali Sotoudeh says:

    yelp is the worse way to advertise your business and exposure to the consumers since they first approach your business with a very pushy tactics and or then come back with strategy if you advertise with them higher budget then they claim they make your phone rings off hook like crazy for which I was not a fool as business to fall for it since I knew words of mouth is always best way of advertising specially if you are a small service oriented business and don’t need very high exposure and consumers most of the time find out for himself by appropriate judgement of service you provided them and or they ask through friends and or at least they give your business a try first but not the kind of prepaid of customers they sent your way to vent out their dis-pleasure and you have no chance to defend your business simply the yelp acts like a business bureau without any chance given to explain and or dispute false hood of comments and yelp claim you can dispute through your account but there is no account if you are not advertising with them any more and they sent you around as they do filter your good reviews and even

    now they claim this that ” There’s no amount of money a business can pay to manipulate their reviews or rating and Yelp does not skew things in favor of advertisers or against businesses that don’t ”

    Though you can try to contact the people with bad reviews they vented however as they wished they are no reply from the viewers bad mouthing your business and yelp doe not give a damn about how hard you built up a business over numbers of years to where as a few yelp viewers come in and try to damage it since they were not pleased with you and or the type of customers they sent in and I have read that they are prepaid bloggers. and they do damage to your business reputation and long standing and yelp think that they have you all on the hook just like what Douglas Karr said on a different site about yelp advertising that:

    I’d still recommend having a page on Yelp, Facebook and Google+… but not sure I’d advertise on Yelp given their requirements. If you’re a service provider in Angie’s List, they have the most valuable audience out there and a fair way of mediating between the providers and the customers and so do your self a favor.

  • Yelp has been trying VERY hard to sell one of these packages to me. After finally forcefully rejecting them my listing went from #1 to #10 and they removed two of my three 5 star reviews! Like the BBB paying seems to be the key to the kingdom. I’ve read enough Yelp horror stories from businesses to know to not support such a thing. My marketing dollars will be spent elsewhere.

  • I am going to pay a $700 early termination fee to cancel my yelp business add. My Yelp add has not paid off . I feel that yelp has robed me. They only care about themselves and their sales. Yelp is a scam which cost my new business $1200.

  • Todor Jelev says:

    Ive put all their numbers as SPAM. I have 30 positive reviews listed and more than 18 filtered….realy Yelp…go suck b..ls

  • Yelp is a huge ripoff! The sales rep bombarded me with a sales pitch that basically told me that my business was going to explode! I don’t think he bothered to mention to me that it was $400 to cancel the contract. I have now paid them $700, and have not received one single phone call. Not even a phone call! Trying to contact them is difficult, and they have just stolen my money. Do not advertise on Yelp.

  • disqus_nbAgbMvX5O says:

    I started an advertising campaign with Yelp and had the ad run for about 10 days. It seemed very simple but it is not. They make claims that your exposure will increase drastically and drive more customers to your business. During this campaign they give you updates, for instance “A man in his 40s located in Houston just got directions to your business”. This gave me hope, but it was a false sense of hope. I am a startup so I ask every single customer how they heard about us. 99% of new business is from people driving by the B&M location or from a referral. Yelp was the first online marketing I did and I received ONE customer from Yelp. In their defense advertising is not a science, however the claims made did not translate into an increase in business as stated. The most frustrating thing was how the campaign is structured. They have you pick a daily maximum amount you want to allot toward your ad campaign. I chose to do $5/day so that after ten days I would only be out $50 if it was unsuccessful. I was going to track this after a few days of activity; only to not be able to login to my account. I requested a password reset be emailed to me and it simply was not making it into my inbox or my junk mail. I send an email to Yelp with no response. Finally, I found a phone number and called in to get my password reset. The lady on the phone was very pleasant and sent me the email which made it straight to my inbox. I was able to login and discovered the marketing campaign had run over $100! I asked the representative what happened and she explained that they take the $5/day and multiply that by 30 days in a month, so the overall monthly budget is $150. So it is not $5/day it is $150/month and they can use that $150 up in a day if that’s how many clicks you receive. I was less than pleased but was told there was nothing they could do as services were rendered. I am writing this review to warn others of what you can expect. This is not the end of the world for me but I hope that others have a better experience. Good luck all!
    P.S. I will be trying Google PPC next as that seems to be a more cost effective option.

  • Today i call to stop my advertisement with Yelp and…Boom…two of my 5 star reviews were filtered, and a one star review that was previously filtered now released which lowered my overall rating down half a point…that how Yelp intimidates business owners.

  • Anthony B. says:

    Don’t do it. I don’t know what kind of scam Yelp is running but it’s a successful one. I lost $1,400 advertising with Yelp. Terrible. Not one call for business. Completed my page successfully, had many pics, spoke to Yelp account managers and followed their advice and nothing. I was getting mystery phone calls. Just dead air calls through my Yelp page and being charged by Yelp for the clicks. Don’t do it. Yelp is good as a free business listing and that is it. Also 5 of my customers left good reviews for me on Yelp and they didn’t approve them as valid reviews. Do not advertise with this scam.

  • Duddioman says:

    How are some of the comments on this thread 3 years old, when the article was published in Dec 2015?? =/

    • Because we update the post periodically with new information, the last of which was Dec 2015 thus an updated date.

  • I was approached the same way every comment starts and today I told them I was not interested. She is still trying to get me into a smaller package but in the meantime, I went to my Yelp page, took all the great rating comments for my business with Windows snipping tool and saved them as JPEG’s so now I can add them to my website. This way I don’t care if I exist on Yelp or not.

  • Ashley Espejo says:

    I signed up last wednesdah and theyre charging me 13.83 per click which they lied to me about they said it was fonna be 9.83 per click and now i want out of the contract and cant find a way plus i havent gotten one customer call. Yelp is a HUGE SCam they want to charge me a 650 fee for terminating and a month which is gonna be up to 300.00 and i just started this company so I am broke.

    • Donald Hajdari says:

      wow this literally just happened to me right now fml

  • I had an hour long sales presentation yesterday with Ben. It was painful to say the least as it was the most aggressive and manipulative sales interaction I have literally had in my whole life, and I am 49 years old. He lied to me when he told me that the videos increased conversion by 38% as I later learned that is the statistic they say is from their whole upgrade package that includes the video.

    He constantly referred to what most people do and what package he sold his mother (yes, he said that multiple times), pressured me to sign up asap because I might miss leads tomorrow or my package might not be there on Monday if I waited from Wednesday through the weekend. He over and over told me that he liked me more than most of his other clients and customer and referred to me as his friend until later in the conversation when I was not willing to sign up asap he said maybe we should not be friends – I mean really. Unbelievably insincere, constantly, every word out his mouth was working me, trying to push my buttons, tweak me emotionally, and drive the sale asap.

    In the presentation he told me that he could not tell me the click rate because it varies but that is super important to know to value your investment. So I emailed him and he responded,

    “The estimated click price is right around 10$ — it could be higher or lower. Based on that number, you would be getting around 27 clicks. If you believe you can get at least 1 of 27 of those targeted transactional leads to pick you then you should do it. But if you don’t then I’d be confused and recommend parting as friends.”

    Again – what is up with the “…parting as friends”. Who doesn’t actually get turned off by such insincere sales tactics.

    Anyways, I was looking at their iOS business app reviews and was surprised to find their app had 1.5 stars which is horrendous. So I started reading reviews and began to see the light. Then I searched more online and found this post and the non-stop comments about how bad their service is and how no one has had any results.

    The sales presentation was pretty convincing. Ironic how the concept of real people reviewing services is what is turning people away from Yelp – because it seems their service is unethical and lacks value.

  • Josh Pavich says:

    Yelp is the biggest rip off ever! Stay clear

  • Please don’t do this! Yelp is the worst way to pay for advertising. Pushy reps will call you almost everyday to promise you and ensure more business. They target new business owners because they are more likely to sign up cus they use fear. My struggling business now is struggling more because of their marketing campaign I signed up for that got me one customer in the one month used after cancelling. They billed me for 2 months as well as the $600 cancellation fee. These reps don’t care about your business. They say they do as a selling tatic. If you care about your business, Google and having good SEO helps. Maintain your free Yelp account with good reviews and answering bad reviews in a professional manner. Just don’t EVER pay Yelp a dime! They should be called out for the damages caused to businesses

    • Totally agree with this!!! I did not get any adds. Very good at marketing and have an answer for everything I threw at her. Questioned everything but not into paying 275 per month. No I will use FB adds and get better conversion from that! Glad I found this!!! Sorry April you had to pay that. I told the gal I will work on my own listing and go from there.

  • Elizabeth says:

    It says this article was written 12/15 but these comments are 2-4 years old. What is up with that?

  • I just got off the phone with them and they told me it’s $7.32 for each click and minimum package was $400. Covering a 125 monthly fee and 275 advertising budget at $7.32 per click. With a average of 32 clicks without yelp ads I’d be paying for my normal free traffic plus New . . Min 6 month contract and 360 buy out fee . . Very pushy

  • Me being stupid, I sign up for a year contract at $1575 a month hoping my new business will get much need exposures has not worked at all, now the worst thing I want pull the plug from Yelp with required $700 termination fee but the account rep trying to extend the AD every time comes with excuses. Ironically my Ad gets pop after I close the business during sleeping hours, I did ask the rep why is the AD is not showing during business hours like use to on previous two months he’s replay was “your Ad is running 24hr” I firmly believe he is lying, If I can’t see it whom will see the ad?

  • Total rip off. Dont ever advertise with them. They started and agreed to $9.50/ click which is outrageous in itself. My last bill they charged me $17.00/click. Ourtageous. Worse yet is that in 3 months I have not gotten one single call or emai business lead from Yelp. I think their friends click on the site to generate click revenue for them.

    RIP OFF!!!

  • Elaine Carlton says:

    I have had a terrible time with Yelp Advertising. I am very unhappy. I did not get good results. I paid too high a price for the advertising I got. They are not helpful. The contract is expensive to terminate and apparently now I have no control over when and how I pay my contract termination fees. STAY AWAY FROM YELP!!!

  • Markus Maro says:

    I tried advertising with Yelp and it’s the worst idea I have ever had! I was cold called by a persuasive sales rep offering me a FREE consultation on how to maximize my profile. I said ok but please call me later as I was busy. He does, and when he does there is no free consultation he goes straight into selling me on signing up. I brought up some examples of how people in my industry that have been advertising with them have quadrupled their business getting many leads daily. I signed up and after the 1st month I had 1 lead and had spent over $500. That lead was in email form and almost seemed written by a machine and never went anywhere. I start calling Yelp terminate my contract but because it wasn’t the first of the month I needed to pay for the whole month in ads and the termination fee, because you have to close your account at an end of a month which is ridiculous! Why couldn’t they just stop the ads when I ask to close my account? They are already charging a fee to brake the contract. But I ther for had to have my ads running for all of last month. Owe them over $800 WITHOUT A SINGLE LEAD LAST MONTH! Complete bullshit and a terrible company to advertise with! I tried to Yelp their ad service to give them a 1star rating but of course they don’t even have any of yelps offices listed on their own service.

  • Daniel Graham says:

    I have a profoundly negative opinion of Yelp. The revenue return is not worth the spend and Yelp presents the hazard of allowing trolls to post fraudulent reviews. We have had demonstrably false reviews and Yelp just yawns. Hadeed Carpet in Virginia successfully sued Yelp for the names of fraudulent posters, and Yelp paid fines rather than offer up the fraudulent posters. Be clear: Yelp has an adversarial relationship with business, and businesses are foolish to reward them with advertising dollars

  • Kenneth Durrum says:

    I just had a conversation today with a Yelp representative. I had turned my back on yelp for many years as I too felt that could not prove ROI. I was a little pleased to review their self serve advertising tools. I may try a few rounds of this before recommending the tool to clients. I thin Yelp still has a way to go and I found that the Representative had little to know insight on the tool and cod not even tell me how long the platform had been around. Has anyone tired the pay as you go options provided by yelp?

  • Eric Calistro says:

    I was called by yelp on Monday and after 30 minutes we set up another phone conversation for the following day so i could be in front of my computer , I expressed to him I would not make a decision based off the conversation tomorrow but he said he was fine with that. Spoke with him yesterday and he was getting a little pushing asking me if I could see the benefit of yelp Ads. I told him I could see some but was still unsure. I asked him a couple times for pricing and after much hesitation he finally emailed them over. I was taken back by the year commitment and the $825.00 per month they wanted. He told me the cost per click was roughly 8 dollars and couldnt tell me when the price would fluctuate or give me a cap price for CPC. After pricing he was still pushy but I reiterated that I would not be making a decisions at that moment but to call me in two day. He managed to set up an appointment with me the following day and said it would only take a few minutes to sign me up. After reading the reviews I will be holding off and look to spend my money elsewhere.

    • I’ve been on the same path. Close to committing to a 3 month contract, but at $13/click for a small podiatry clinic with no reviews it just doesn’t make sense. He offered to knock down the monthly fixed cost from $100 to $35, which threw me off a bit too.
      Now I’ve read several reviews and I get the impression they are basically out to take our money. My rep also forgot to mention if I want to cancel, there is a fee and you need to pay for another month or two.
      I think I’m going to hold off and invest more in our SEO campaign..
      For any of you other small, private healthcare businesses, any experience/success with advertising on healthgrades?

      • Danny, you can also advertise on a pay-as-you-go plan with no contracts with Yelp. I’m sure they prefer not to promote this and it doesn’t come with as many features (blocking competitor ads on your page, or video hosting), but you can control your spend and not be locked down in a contract. Most are not aware of this, and it’s probably not something a sales rep will mention.

        • I asked my rep if there were PPC ads I could buy without the Enhanced Page contract. He said “no”. He also said the call was being recorded in the beginning so, I’m going to question it when it’s activated in a few days. I’ve never regretted anything before it even took place, until now.

  • Patrick Guiett says:

    I tried it, got nothing from it, informed them I was cancelling (after 8 months) they charged me for another month and as well as the 600 cancelling fee..of course after I informed them of my intention of cancelling I magically get a few phone calls from yelp users (the only ones in 8 months), which of course they tried to convince me of staying. I think they are a shady business, and chalk the horrible results (and major money losses) to a learning experience. I requested for them to delete my account because I want nothing to do with them.

  • Yelp protects bad reviews like precious commodity, but good reviews like trash. It gives all the power, advantage and the sword to a client with a vendetta. Us poor business owner can be burnt at the stake and can’t even defend ourselves. This is extremely unjust and unfair.

  • My problem with Google PPC is that they keep adding search phases that do not pertain to me, evey time shut them off they add new one’s, I called Google Addwords and they told me to send them a list of words I didn’t want them to use… I advise in a small local area and out of 50 + clicks not one call, that makes no sense. Now I get a ton of work through my free Yelp add but I think they did something to it because my phone stopped ringing and now they are calling me to advertise…..

    • Maybe take a peek at Toby Danylchuk’s comment under Lance Throttle’s thread at the top of this page

  • Paul, regarding Google, depending on how you set up your keywords in Google, yes Google will match to variations – it’s set up that way by design depending on how you set your keywords up. It’s possible to set up your keywords so that there are no variations, but the drawback with that is that you miss queries that were relevant and that you didn’t think of. Unless you negative out those phrases you don’t want, Google will continue to show your ads to queries that perhaps you don’t want them to. There are several categories of how you can enter your keywords into Google: broad match (just keywords with no modifiers), modified broad match (+my +keyword), phrase match (“my keyword”), and exact match ([my keyword]). Broad match will match to all sorts of variations including synonyms, modified broad that has a + before each keyword tells Google these words have to be in the query but can be in any order and other words can appear with it, phrase match tells Google these keywords need to appear in exactly this order as between the “” but words can also appear before or after it, and exact match means exactly that – only the words between the brackets [my keywords] can appear in the query in exactly that order with nothing before or after them.

  • Does anyone suggest yelp for nationwide companies? I own Ace Connect Auto Shipping and Yelp has been calling me quite a bit. I was interested until I was told that it is a 1 year contract with a cancellation fee of $700 if it was not working out. We ship vehicle across the country and the cost per click is $8 on yelp, not to much higher than what I would expect on google adwords to be at the top. We are based out of Dallas but most of our customers are not in or near Dallas.

    • Yelp does have a self-serve option too so you if you want to experiment you can without being locked down – apparently the sales reps don’t make people aware of that. However, I still think you will be far better off with Google Adwords for a couple reasons.
      First, there’s not a lot of transparency with Yelp ads, meaning you don’t have any idea of the actual queries that Yelp searchers are using to click on ads – also, the cost -per-click is not as efficient as it is in Google and seems arbitrary. And since you’re a national company – most likely the consumer behavior would be to go to Google first to search since this isn’t something many people are thinking about locally perhaps. Regardless of above, with Google you can be very precise in your keyword targeting and limit your waste – these leads are “warm” since they had to type in a query so we know the person is interested….just need to get them to the website and convert them there.

  • Eva Cotter says:

    I am totally disgusted with YELP. They charge me over $8.00 per click which coincidentally just happens to add up to my total ad budget by the end of the month. After they charged me 561.38 for August advertising which resulted in two new patients who came once and did not return, my telephone stopped ringing for three weeks! It was eerie, I have been in practice for over 20 years, and I’ve never had that happen. I was lied to by their representative to get me to sign up for this travesty, if she had been honest about costs and results, I would have told her to take a hike.

  • Jeremy Carl Hinton says:

    $3-$4 a click? Im charged $37. Somethings wrong.

  • Mnasir Darrar says:

    Year 2016 – We’ve a computer and phone repair business, we decided to use Yelp, signed their 1 year contract, $550/month, but 3 months, many clicks, $1800 later, no customer, wait a minute, there was a customer, who came in for free computer diagnostics.

    After 3 months, I called Yelp and cancelled the contract. Stay away from Yelp, it is not worth it. Many people nowadays have some kind of ad blocker, which blocks promoted ads.

    This is what I have told Yelp last month, instead of working so hard on deleting legit reviews, have your engineers work on how to bypass ad blockers and promoting business in some other smarter ways. Yelp engineers work so hard on an algorithm, which deletes 1000% legit reviews (3 of my reviews were deleted), and Yelp is so proud of this work of their engineers.

    This is awful, don’t waste your money, not until Yelp comes up with the better system. Go with Google adword, it is worth it.

  • Laurie Moore says:

    Glad to see this discussion, just wish I had looked it up BEFORE signing with Yelp Ad program. We believe this is a total scam. After the first month I was given their analytics and the bill which showed dozens of phone calls I know we never received: I carefully tracked our caller ID logs and 75% of the calls they said we got did not happen (date/time/phone number did not register) and many that said there was no answer, just not possible. We DID see a big uptick in the garbage solicitation calls and many of these did match our call logs. For this reason we completely do not believe their numbers in the hundreds of clicks we supposedly got through the ad listing. We had ZERO calls from people saying they saw our Yelp Ad and ZERO customer orders. Because of their cancellation policy we ended up getting ripped off for almost $1400 just to get out of the scam. The simplest way to look at this is that they cannot provide ANY proof of the clicks they say they generate for your business, which is what they base the billing off of. Beware, beware, beware, we would absolutely NEVER recommend the Yelp Ads rip-off to anyone.

  • tom crane says:

    WOW i almost made a big mistake i am setting up a phone meeting in the am and after reading this i will not sign with them thank you everyone. I am with thumbtack and i will tell you it has been great i have gotten more jobs from them than goggle ad words or my web page i have a small moving and storage business and i am always looking for ways to make my phone ring

  • John O'Brien says:

    Worst advertising product ever! Spent over $2000 and got not one lead.
    Then cancelled and was charged $700. Would not recommend to anyone,
    anytime. Complete ripoff!! Asked to speak with someone about it and
    never returned my calls or email.

  • Lucy Marcus says:

    I wish I had read this first, I’m appalled by what happened with my yelp advertising. I’ve received only one phone call from a potential client who did not end up working with me, in 2 months of advertising and the account has maxed out its budget at $350 per month having all $5 per clicks done. How could this be possible when I receive no phone calls? I would like someone to file a class action law suit. Do not get yelp adds, it’s a scam’

    • Thanks to every one for sharing your experience with Yelp. I have been under severe pressure from a Yelp Rep in the past 3 weeks to sign up. I almost did yesterday but when I saw in the agreement that I will be locked in for one year and slammed with $700.00 early termination fee even if when I don’t get all the promised results, I told him to give me some time to think about it. Even then he was still pushing me to sign. Now I know better.

  • Can you please provide a link or screen shot of how to find Yelp’s pay-as-you-go CPC program? I can’t find anything about it.

    • Phillip,
      Assuming you have already created your Yelp page and claimed it, logging into biz.yelp.com will bring up the business dashboard. Click on Yelp Ads on the left side of the screen to bring up the page below. Then click on “Get Started” and proceed with instructions to create your Yelp ad and set your budget.
      Hope that helps.

  • Vic Levinson says:

    This was an expensive error that I wish I could tell every business owner I come into contact with about. If I could rate the experience on Yelp, I would give it zero stars. The ad budget that I gave- $450 PER MONTH did not result in ANY increase in business or increase in web traffic to my site. Additionally, $75 additional dollars for an enhanced listing did not improve any incremental traffic to our site. I am now over $1000 in expenses – WITH NO SALES ATTRIBUTABLE TO YELP. (This has been verified via my Google Analytics and Webmaster tools.) The Yelp explanation on the sign up page should say “WE WILL BILL THIS AMOUNT MONTHLY NO MATTER WHAT” regarding the monthly budgeted amount- and if Google works differently in the CPC, then Yelp should have made it abundantly clear. If this was coming from a customer of mine regarding my business, this would have appeared on my business’s public review where any potential client could see it. Is there anywhere where I can review YELP! on YELP! so that other businesses could see my displeasure and maybe avoid a $1000 waste of money? Is there anywhere on YELP! where I could lambast Yelp and create pressure for a refund/resolution – the way that Yelp encourages other clients to do to their advertisers? When I called the advertising line to complain, I was told by the representative that I should have used the Managed Advertising Campaign- but that since there was nothing for him to help me with and he transferred me over to another department.The representative in that department, who was very nice and professional, told me that my only recourse is to provide feedback was to send an email. I am frustrated and angry with them. It would be interesting to look on Yelp for an attorney that does class action on contingency…

  • Yelp took advantage of me. They helped me set up billing and told me when to close the account to avoid charges past their trial coupon but then charged me anyway! They said they NEVER reverse charges because the account is “self-service.” They charged $27 per click plus a $75 account fee. I totally got fleeced. $375 for 11 clicks.

    I was a Yelp Elite for 5 years. I wrote a bad review of a terrible event and location once and was immediately “suggestively” reprimanded by community organizer. I was also approached on several occasions by review brokers offering money for writing fakes reviews. I’m quitting Yelp due to their sub-par ethics and poor performance.

  • I was emailed an offer of £50 free credit with Yelp and after cancelling found I had a bill of £12.50 pro rata for my monthly charge. I could see nothing about this in the original offer. There is almost no come-back. There is no customer service number to call and it is very difficult to get to the bottom of where that condition is stated. I am very loath to pay but don’t want to get into a credit rating problem.

  • Yelp is helping people with wrong allegation that has no base to tarnish businesses without giving fair opportunity to defend themselves. I will never help them financially by putting ads in their site for my business.

  • So thankful I found this 2 hours before I was supposed to sign up with them.

    • Not me. I signed up yesterday, and now just thought to look into it more. Still have six days until it’s activated, but after reading all these comments, I already feel like $700 is soon going to be used to early terminate. I’ll give it one month. I only did it because Google screwed me so bad on organic rankings once I stopped AdWords. They’re just as bad as Yelp, if not worse.

      • Google does not punish your organic rankings if you stop using Google Adwords. Those two areas (paid and organic) in Google are not connected internally at all and if the company did such things, it would completely undermine the validity of its organic rankings, the search results would only be dominated by companies that paid, the quality of its search results would go down and eventually people would stop using Google and the company would suffer. Google updates its organic algorithm almost daily and if your site dropped, most likely it was because of a quality signal or lack thereof that your site was sending.

  • Concerned Business Owner says:

    Not only is Yelp a terrible ROI, but they have a rotation formula for the reviews which none of thier representative seem to understand or could explain.

    In addition they have an automatic renewal policy, so it does not matter if you have a contract for three months. They will keep billing you until you call and have the contract canceled.

    Business owners should be very aware that Yelp not only hides your best reviews, but allows unverified negative reviews to be posted and will steal your money.

    Each industry had a site specific to that industry which contains reviews, that is where you should be because that is where your clients will find you.

    Do not advertis with Yelp!!!!

  • Dean Barron says:

    I canceled my account in the middle of December last year and Yelp is still charging me $33.96 per click. Of the 2380 ad impressions they showed for me. I had a total of 16 Clicks to my website and over half of those were from me testing the link. I get much better advertising on Google. Usually under a $1 per click for my keywords. Stay away from Yelp Ads. They don’t work! very disappointed. 🙁

  • michael1302 says:


    • My sales rep Ross from yelp, he persuades me to sign up 175/mo ad. I said too high budget for my small business, he showed me the reports from web, I don’t believe it. Because I had really bad experience with Ziprecruiter, which claims you get your employee in a day. To be honest, I got 1, yes , only 1 in 7 days free trial, the employee is in india, post resume to Kansas USA, what a crazy service they did!! For yelp ad, don’t get on contract, whatever for a year or so called short term, start with small amount budget, like mike said, 1 or 2 dollars a day cost you nothing, but 175/mo for 12 months, you really need consider it!

  • Access Ballroom says:

    After a 6 months of their constant barrage of calls, They convinced me to put my small business that didn’t have the budget for such expensive advertisement to pay for Ad clicks and drive business to me. I had just done it with Facebook and saw great results with very little money. So I said why not, since they were promising me the moon. If they just do as good as Facebook then I’ll be ok.
    After a month I had to send them this.
    “I’m not sure if you guys make promises and then don’t deliver.
    Your company has now started on the wrong foot. You have pushed ad
    clicks towards a category that I don’t need advertisement for. Because
    of it I have now paid for clicks I didn’t need. Yet I’m ok with that as
    long as I was even getting close to the same traffic once you fixed it.
    Because you guys said there is so much people looking for dance schools
    in my area, I’m expecting a decent amount of traffic or action from it,
    especially for how much I’m paying per month for this. Now from March 29
    and onward everything dropped down to 1/8 of what it was before. Barely
    seeing any clicks or action towards the studio.

    bothered me the most was I google searched dance schools in Toronto and
    yelp top ten popped up on the 1st page. So I went to check it and found
    out it’s more like 90 dance schools. I’m not even listed in there. And
    the paid ads are not even popping up my dance school on the sides or
    something… and that is my direct category. I’m not sure how the set up
    is but I would say something is clearly wrong or I was lied to about
    the amount of traffic.
    Please look into and resolve these
    issues as quickly as possible. Like I had stated, I do not have the
    budget to try you guys out if it gets me no results. You pushed for me
    to try this early, before I have the budget because you promised the
    results would pay for the ad. Well they haven’t so far and I have made
    one payment. I do not have the money to throw towards another month with
    no results Which is what this is looking like it’s heading towards…

    You have an opportunity here! You make it work as promised and you have a customer for life.”

    Well they lost a customer for life and one that will tell every business owner not to waste your money. The sales people have the concept that you must lie or say anything to get the sale. Doesn’t matter wether they can deliver on it or not. Just throw them instantiated numbers and act like we can track details. Especially because once they are in a contract we tell them that we cannot track details…I would laugh it wasn’t so stupid.

    If YELP calls…Hang up

  • Steven1100 says:

    Unfornately I did not read the reviews below until after I spoke with the Yelp sales Rep. Fornately I concluded not to advertise with the. I would not have been able to independently determine the accuracy of the billing and effectiveness of the ads to see if I’m getting my money’s worth. If your business is ready to pay a $1000 invoice for office supplies, you don’t ask the supplier if they sent it, you verify that you received it. So why would you agree to pay Yelp unless you have a means other than their reports to know you got the benefit from the advertisement the sales rep said you would get. The answer is due to their high pressure well rehearsed sales tactics.

    I asked the Sales Rep what percentage of customers continue the advertisement after the initial commitment period. He said he doesn’t have that information. Of course Yelp has that information as that is basic operational management data. So I have to assume that it must me a low number so they certainly are not going to disclose it. If it was high it would have been in their sales pitch. I didn’t get to the point of reading their contract but I’m sure it is to their advantage. So I recommend not to advertise with them based on my personal experience.

  • Thank you to the author of the article, and to all those who posted. I have been in the Estate Sales business for several years. Not selling houses, but the personal effects (items) of those who have died, divorced, moving across country or across the town, and downsizing.

    In my sector Yelp reviews come from clients, and from customers. Customers run to Yelp when they don’t get to buy an item for the price they want, usually unreasonably cheap. The clients who’s irems I am selling, their reviews are the ones with weight, their experience influences other people hiring you.
    I received a Yelp cold call today. Polite and friendly. However, I know financially I am not in a position for committed paid advertising. Not as informed as many here regarding analytics, but smart enough to ask a lot of questions. The recommendation was for $10 per click, but really would 27 clicks a month land me a client in my business? They could not provide me with the current amount of clicks on my business receives monthly.

    Here is my point and what I told my sales person. In my local area, there is an estate sale company with a 1 star review. Most of the reviews are from clients, the people we work for, not sales customers. The company advertises on Yelp, and has priority over the other companies listings. When someone searches Estate Sales or Estate Liquidations their company ad is the first you see. When someone open’s my review page, their ad is also on my page review. An ad with a 1 star rating, is visible on my page. My company has only one review from a client which was very positive. However the negative comments left for the other company illustrates the fear of people when hiring Estate Sale Companies. I hope his makes sense to someone as the sales associate was dismissive. When you see a 1 star Yelp ad, it has a negative connotation about ads, and my industry, especially when clients mention theft and being swindled. A crappy, unethical company based on reviews is paying for an ad, they receive top billing on a REVIEW site. It is the only “like company” with a paid ad in my area, and I don’t want my company’s ad placed near that ad. To me, it tells consumers money trumps reviews, you can pay for anything. Although Yelp does not rate businesses, they accept the ad revenue for the poorest rated company in my region. Isn’t that hipocracy? In my sales pitches to clients I tell them to forgo paid ratings, and look for client reviews on Google and Yelp. I just could not advertise with Yelp knowing they accept the money of the lowest rated “like company”, Yelp places that paid ad above those with positive reviews. Doesn’t that seem wrong for a site who is all about company ratings?

  • nolickspittles says:

    Yelp is definitely a scam.
    Here’s how it works.
    You set an ad budget
    They won’t or can’t tell you what the click rate is, just some market rate.
    Then when the end of the month comes they just divide the number of clicks into your budget and that becomes your market rate. Totally deceptive!

  • J Maxwell says:

    Yelp is a scam. I strongly feel that people inside Yelp click on your ad to increase billing. After signing an agreement, no one was able to find my business after multiple tries, no calls, nothing as a result of Yelp ad yet they kept billing clicks. It’s a scam, don’t waste your money

  • Daniel Graham says:

    In my opinion, Yelp is the worst marketing platform on the planet–especially for service providers.
    My company has accurate How-Heard data. The revenue return on Yelp marketing spend is significantly worse than Google, Bing, Angies List, Best Picks and every other web-based lead generator I’ve tried. Even worse, Yelp blocks your positive reviews and allows trolls who have never used your service (competitors perhaps?) to post libelous, nasty, pernicious lies about your business. Hadeed Carpet in Northern Virginia successfully sued Yelp for their libelous posts — And Yelp continues to allow libelous posts knowing that most of us small businesses don’t have the time, capital, and energy to sue

  • Jeff Dumas says:

    Just cancelled my Yelp advertising. I thought it was ridiculously expensive for what I was getting.

  • Yes, Yelp certainly is a scam. Avoid at all costs.

  • David H Hawksford says:

    I moved my business across the street and it took 6 months for Yelp to respond to the move. 2nd issue: Yelp would not move my reviews with the new address and I had a lot of them. I’ll not advertize with them for that reason.

  • Sandra Jorge says:

    OMG. I did advertise with them after getting so many annoying calls. I own/Manage a retail liquor store. I got a 3 month contract $325 max per month. I regret it Big time! This had beed such a waste of my money. Clicks from other CONTINENT, States, Cities far away from my business that obviously are not ending in a sale had been happening since Month #1. I called customer service after first month because I was keeping track of clicks and bodget every single day and towards the end of the cicle my $$ went up by $100 which sis not make sense, they ended up reimbursing around $70 in that 1st month. During month 2 my budget hit the maximum of $325 magically! So during month 3 I called to make sure they stop advertising(stealing) my money and they say it takes 30 DAYS to stop all advertising, how unbelivible is that???? So now I am stuck with them for about another month. On my experience I would not recommend this for anyone!

  • Sandra Jorge says:

    OMG. I did advertise with them after getting so many annoying calls. I own/Manage a retail liquor store. I got a 3 month contract $325 max per month. I regret it Big time! This had beed such a waste of my money. Clicks from other CONTINENT, States, Cities far away from my business that obviously are not ending in a sale had been happening since Month #1. I called customer service after first month because I was keeping track of clicks and bodget every single day and towards the end of the cicle my $$ went up by $100 which sis not make sense, they ended up reimbursing around $70 in that 1st month. During month 2 my budget hit the maximum of $325 magically! So during month 3 I called to make sure they stop advertising(stealing) my money and they say it takes 30 DAYS to stop all advertising, how unbelivible is that???? So now I am stuck with them for about another month. On my experience I would not recommend this for anyone!

  • Byron Gordon says:

    What about Yelp business videos? Any feedback on those? They are free and when you create a Yelp business profile page, Yelp will produce a video of your business and have it posted on your page. Are these effective at driving traffic?

    • Hey Byron,
      If your customers need to see the inside of your business and that’s important on the path to conversion, then perhaps it might help somewhat, but I don’t think that is a deciding factor in many people’s decision unless of course, you’re a restaurant where the ambiance is a key selling factor. And probably not worth the 1-year contract you have to sign up for to get that free video. Better off creating your own video, or outsourcing it, then using Facebook ads to promote it or embedding it on your website.

    • Robert Jimenez says:

      i belive not free and monthly fee

  • Beret Loncar says:

    I am a small biz owner: Here are my thoughts after working with them. The reason Yelp works after an extended period is they have a tiered search algorithm. I have worked with them a bunch and watched it over time and multiple contracts. The cpc really in my opinion does not do that much…I do not think it is effective, however, once you sign with them, they bump you up in search (which is why there is no transparency in key words) I have my analytics over 5 years and I can see exactly how it works. So long as you pay, you stay in the top of search, if you cancel your contract they assess a penalty and you drop. I am pretty certain they won a lawsuit on that when they were being accused of dirty tactics. When they want you to up your contract again, and pay more, they slow your traffic down.
    They do NOT block your positive reviews. They make money from people being on their site, so when a positive review is blocked it is because that person has not been on the site enough. It is easy to unlock that reivew for the most part (so long as it is not the first review from that customer). You need to have them put up a picture, or ‘check in’ to look like an active user. You have to look at it like yelp, “what would make me money”.
    My advice however is do not invest with them, as the product works…but over time (search) and not the way they say it does (it is NOT cpc) and if you ever quit, you are sunk because every year the cost goes up $150 for the same service.

  • Nickole Sparacia says:

    Warning to other small business owners…DO NOT USE THEIR $300 credit to advertise! I cancelled the Yelp Ad while I still showed a credit from “free” money they gave and they still ended up charging my card over $200. They even claimed that I received a call and email inquiries as well, which I did not. Terrible experience and I’ll never advertise on Yelp again! Shame on them!!
    Nickole Sparacia in Phoenix, AZ

    • Suckers sent me that offer same day I claimed my business listing. Thanks for the heads up. Needless to say, I was rather enticed to receive free money…

  • Frances Evans says:

    I have not advertised with Yelp but have had my business listed on their site (which I am removing today). I receive bogus email requests for my services and Yelp calls continuously trying to get me to buy their advertising. They claim people are searching for my company, and my thought is they generate these bogus email requests to make it look like there is traffic on my listing. I have directed my customers to their website to post reviews for my company and I cannot reply to their reviews because I won’t put a picture of my face on my listing. I have argued with Yelp over this, that I want my logo not my face on my listing, to me it isn’t very professional. Goodbye Yelp.

  • Do Not Use Yelp! Google works a lot better. Here’s what happened to my small business:

    In 9 business days, we spent $67 for 18 clicks = $3.72/click (already higher than google)

    We had to go on vacation for 4 days and had to CALL Yelp in order to put the campaign on hold (Google allows a lot more customization like time, dates, and budget spent in which YELP does not).

    In 1 day back from vacation, we spent $120 for 10 clicks = $12/click (I honestly had no idea it was running because when I checked it never said we had a click nor we were getting traffic).

    Customer service gave me zero solutions. They have zero education on Google and other competitors and why their platform is inferior to them. They didn’t understand why I was concerned about a 200% increase in ad budget spent…. their software just wanted to get my $300 monthly budget on track which still made no sense because they should space it out.

    YELP sucks! It’s for business owners that don’t want tot take the time to use Google. We just wanted to test Yelp as well and they stole from us in one day.

  • Do NOT use Yelp. They lie. They told me pay per click would be between $1 & $2 and ended up $7.50 a click. First month they charged right, then when I got the shock of the second month, I called. They said they can charge whatever they want to charge (it’s supposedly in the fine writing). Then when I called to cancel, guess what, they forgot to record it. I called my bank and told them not to pay yelp, and yelp was able to take the money any how. $550 per month (they took 2900). No new customers. When I had people in the area see if there was an ad that people could click on, noone could find one. So I was paying them for something they weren’t doing and I was helpless when it came to paying them for a contract that they did not fulfill.

  • I am a small restaurant owner. New to the business, Yelp called. Said I could have ad for $1 – $2 each (which I thought was high) and I would be put at the top of the list of restaurants in the area. First month I was charged at this rate. Second month, the pay per click went up to $7.50 each (costing me $550) I called them and said “what’s going on” I was told they can charge me whatever they want. I told them to cancel the service and called my bank to make sure they couldn’t take further money. I had the card they were charging cancelled. They were able to get the information from my bank and pull another $550 twice. I called them again and had my bank call them – they refused to give me a cancellation number. They pulled another $700 and $325. I’m hoping they can’t pull any more. I was never able to see this ad they said they put on the site, I was still showing up on page 10. I had several friends try to see the ad on their phones, and no one could find it. Yelp is a terrible company who is out to hurt small business. Please don’t fall for their lies.

    • Linda Xochitl Avalos says:

      Did you complain on the Better Business Bureau! This is crazy!

  • John Pittman says:

    This is a great article. Good to see some further details on what I already knew. Yelp has been trying to get me as a customer for years! They finally made an offer to give me $100 for advertising free and cancel at any time. I tried it for two weeks and immediately cancelled it. No horror stories with that. I couldn’t tell how they were helping me. Exactly as this article states, they don’t have the reports or details to positively confirm what your ROI is. My business does well on natural searches in Yelp so all I was doing was putting a “Paid” click one or two businesses above my own “free” click. I was costing myself money. As I have learned more about Google Analytics, I have since found the details of how much traffic is coming from Yelp vs. Facebook, CPC on Adwords, and natural traffic. Yelp was 1% of my overall website traffic over a 1-year timeframe. That says that I have one heck of a CPC campaign and natural traffic or Yelp just isn’t doing it. Another trend I found was that Yelp traffic increased as my spend on other advertising medium increased. I was driving traffic to Yelp through adwords. I took that to mean that people interact with my business and then go to Yelp to get more details or check the reviews. My message to Yelp has always been very simple. “You don’t have any tools to help a small business get on their feet. When a business starts up, a bad Yelp review can sink that business. I experienced it early on with customers writing reviews that weren’t even related to my business. Since they were “Elite” reviewers, nothing can or will get done. If you can survive long enough for your true business reviews to come in and get past those “Elites” who think “no business can possibly be 5-stars so all my reviews start at 4”, you will do ok. But Yelp wants you to pay them with the implication that paying for it will help that process. One other note from the past 8 years of experience with Yelp trying to get me to pay them. It never failed that a week or so before Yelp calls, one or two of those off-beat reviews would disappear from the front page and get hidden. My review status would be higher when they called. They say that it is all a computer algorithm and nothing they do really changes that. Somehow a few weeks after those calls and I didn’t pay, those reviews would be back in my average. That didn’t just happen once, but once every quarter when they called for several years. I pointed it out to them a couple of times and they acted ignorant of it. So my advice, if you are a brand new startup, nurture your Yelp page. It makes a huge difference to your ability to get on your feet. Don’t write reviews yourself. Just be the best darn person you can be and it will eventually get there. If someone writes one of those off-beat reviews, make sure you respond with a polite response. It doesn’t fix your average. It takes a LONG time initially. If you get great reviews right off, then you are off to the races. Hold a grand opening and ask to help a small business out through facebook and any social media. I never mention yelp or advertise them. They are a necessary evil. I’m just not gonna be the one that pays for them.

  • We have call recording which enabled us to listen to all the “SO CALLED PHONE LEADS” I wasted $2,135 PER MONTH **RIP OFF** 50% are telemarketers. (2) leads scheduled—YAY!! I may only lose $1500 a month on wasted advertising. Thankfully only 6 month contract so we are out $13k.

    I suggest allocating your advertising budget in Google Adwords until you have maximized PPC for your area which is not likely to happen for a small business. We only spend $10k month on PPC and could spend many multiples more if we could service the customers.

    Breakdown from yelp advertising cost:

    (3) Hang Up Calls


    9199 (directory listing telemarketer)


    (5) Sales Calls






    (8) Quotes

    8440 (move out of area)





    3203 (scheduled)

    *3203 Duplicate

    *3203 Duplicate

    7748 (scheduled)


    (2) Unanswered Calls


    2400 After Hours

    *2400 Duplicate

  • Pro Housekeepers says:

    Yelp was not worthwhile. We were getting “clicks” to website and calls from area codes outside our operating areas 90% of the time.

  • Good point on geo-targeting. But math-wise, if comparing 5 mile radius vs 20 miles you’re looking at circles (pi * radius squared), so it’s even worse than you’re saying… If the views were evenly distributed, almost 94% would be wasted. But I don’t know if they’re evenly distributed. When I use Yelp as a consumer, I tend to see more ads for closer businesses than for 10-20 miles away (although I do get some of those too.) Is there really no way to analyze this?

    • I like the math on your comment – yes, even worse. I know of no way to analyze this as that information is not available versus Google or even Facebook where you can see geographically where the clicks are coming from, but more importantly set the geo-targeting that you want .

  • This is a bit off topic. I am a solo business (Electrician). I don’t pay for advertising on yelp (or anywhere) and I basically use my Yelp listing as my website. Using Yelp for free is great once you get a bunch of (only) 5-star reviews.
    As a consumer, I use Yelp a lot and I NEVER look at advertising …do you? My conclusion is that people look for the business that has the most 5-star/highest ratings. THAT is the best way to use Yelp.
    I obviously have more control over customer contact than most businesses since I am the sole employee, but my advice to everyone is to spend time & money training the face(s) of your business in listening, setting expectations, and then going beyond those expectations. Positive reviews are more valuable than advertising.

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