Top 10 Reasons Why Google Ads Beat Yelp Ads avatar
Top 10 Reasons Why Google Ads Beat Yelp Ads

Yelp Ads vs Google Ads

Choices – where to put your marketing budget is a common question with all our clients. Clients often ask us about Yelp advertising, whether they should allocate funds to it, and should they use Yelp over Google?

I wrote a post a while back on Yelp advertising here that was one of the most commented posts we have, and the majority of the comments are negative about advertising on one of the top online review sites. Business owners have a love-hate relationship with Yelp.

But here’s a more factual list about why you’re better off choosing Google, especially if you have to choose between one or the other. Your mileage will of vary based on your industry and situation, of course.
(this post is updated ongoing)

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  1. The most searches: Google captures 70% or more of all search traffic between the 3 search engines (which is really just two search engines). It’s one of the primary places people go to begin their research. And consider that the majority of mobile phone users are on Google’s Android.
  2. No contracts with Google Adwords. Yelp, on the other hand, pushes contracts and prefers 12 months. They do offer a self-serve option, but the sales reps probably won’t tell you about this option. So if you’re considering advertising, ask about the self-serve option before being locked down in a contract.
  3. Tracking: Google Adwords provides tons of great data on exactly what keywords are driving traffic, campaign performance, and integrates completely with Google Analytics. Yelp provides almost no data whatsoever about what keywords people are using and who is seeing your ads or clicking.
  4. Pre-qualified Leads: People completing Google queries are pre-qualified, you know exactly what queries are driving clicks to your website and which queries are converting to leads. This is not necessarily the case with Yelp ads as Yelp determines which queries and topics to show your ad for, but you have no visibility whatsoever into that query data.     Yelp Advertising Dashboard User Views
  5. Remarketing/Retargeting: Many of your customers will not convert on the first visit to your website, but that’s ok if you’re using Google Remarketing because you can target those people for up to a year serving them ads about your brand to bring them back to convert them to a lead. Can’t do this with Yelp. Also, Yelp sends a low percentage of people through to your site (obviously since they want to keep that traffic on Yelp) so even if you are using Google retargeting, very little of your Yelp traffic will end up in your Google retargeting lists. (I would add that the traffic that Yelp does send through is very low bounce rate which is a positive indicator).
  6. Easily start or Stop: Google Adwords allows you to start or stop a campaign very quickly, and thus control your spend. If you signed a contract with Yelp, you’re locked (see point 2).
  7. Flexibility to go after different types of customers: keyword selection in Google Adwords allows us to target customers at different stages of the buying cycle based on the type of query. For example, people just starting to search for digital cameras might query for “digital SLR versus Point and Shoot Cameras” – this customer is not ready to buy, but you could target that query to at least create awareness of your brand. Or you could put all your budget on the bottom of the funnel where people are ready to buy right now, “where to buy digital SLR cameras near me.” Yelp advertises you in your industry/niche, but there’s no choosing the types of queries you go after, and those other industries could be too far afield from yours.
  8. Integration with Facebook campaigns: there’s a great post here detailing how you can create Google ad campaigns targeting just your site visitors that are coming from Facebook. Conversely, when looking in Google Analytics at referral traffic from Yelp to your website, it’s usually very low, so you cannot easily integrate Yelp with other marketing campaigns (i.e. through retargeting Yelp website visitors on Google, Facebook).
  9. Lowest cost-per-click (CPC): Google’s Adwords auction system is designed so that you pay exactly the lowest cost per click possible to maintain your ad position (referred to as the Adwords Discounter. More info here and here), and its Smart Pricing system will actually reduce the cost-per-click if it believes a click is less likely to lead to a conversion. With Yelp advertising, the amount you pay is primarily determined by Yelp – there’s no real-time auction ensuring you pay the minimum. And for most campaigns, that means CPC for Yelp from our discussions with reps is usually in the $3 – $4 range.
  10. Support: Google provides a toll-free number for support (866-2-GOOGLE) with technical Adwords specialists, or Google Analytics reps. Yelp provides a sales rep.

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What are your thoughts? Which do you prefer and why?:

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For those of you new to Google Adwords and paid campaigns, a couple related posts here will help:

What is Google Adwords and how does it work?

And How much should I spend on Google ads

  • Stanleyrama

    Great article. You have a more recent article and the comments on Yelps practices are HORRIFYING! In the past few months Yelp has called every small business in my area over and over! I would not even claim my business with Yelp so they don’t know you exist. Go with Google!

  • Can tell you already Google is above Yelp. I had a great review by a customer put on Yelp and they will not “recommend” the review. Why? No good reason I can see. Useless to me.

  • Kedric Jackson

    I have Google words and Yelp advertising. I am having more success with Yelp than Google! I am paying about $1,000 monthly on Yelp advertising and I am grossing about $5,000 + easily. With Google, I have to advertise towards the end of the month to make profit off the money I spent for Google advertising. I pay per click not by impressions for my Yelp advertising and I love my success thus far. Finally, as with most things in life there are certain things I do not like about Yelp, but one of them is not the money Yelp helps me make! Best to all you ladies and gentlemen!