Dental Marketing 101: Advertising on Yelp

When it comes to easily marketing your practice, Yelp is hard to beat. Odds are you’ve already claimed your business and optimized your practice’s profile — but what about Yelp advertising?

Dental marketers are in a better position than ever before to successfully leverage Yelp ads to grow their practice. The hugely popular review site attracts over 90 million monthly users and makes it simple for patients to find and review your practice.

Dentists have the unusual advantage of a statistically untapped market — 53% of dentists have not even claimed their practice on Yelp. Many practices are making the mistake of overlooking the platform entirely, let alone experimenting with advertising.

Because Yelp is so underutilized, dentists have an automatic competitive advantage over the practices who haven’t claimed their business yet.

Another reason to start experimenting with Yelp advertising is due to a recent announcement from the company. Yelp will now give business owners more control when creating and running ads.

According to an update in April 2018, businesses no longer have to sign a long-term contract for any Yelp advertising.

This has been one of the biggest complaints from businesses, many of whom don’t want to commit to a hefty 12-month agreement.

You can also control your own ads budget and select the photos and reviews that are highlighted in the ad.

While there is still some significant room for improvement in terms of targeting audiences, this is great news if you are interested in advertising your dental practice on Yelp.

To help you get started, we answered some of the most basic Yelp advertising questions and laid out the pros and cons of Yelping your way to a stronger dental marketing strategy.

How do Yelp ads work?

Yelp ads feature your practice at the top of Yelp search engine results pages, or “directories,” as well as on business listings that have not paid to remove them.

There are three places a Yelp ad can appear — desktop page, mobile phone apps, or on your competitor’s page.

Depending on which page the ad is on, it will feature an image, location, star rating, contact info, call-to-action button, and a snippet of a review.

How much does Yelp advertising cost?

The cost of a Yelp ad depends on whether you choose between Self Service or Full Service Advertising.

Full Service comes with more targeting and upgrade opportunities but requires paying the 12-month retainer cost.

Each of the Full Service programs is based on a click budget per month. You can check the number of leads and clicks you get with each ad, though Yelp doesn’t break down how the CPC (cost per click) is calculated.

It is possible to work these retainer packages down to six or three months, but Yelp salespeople are notoriously persistent. So make sure you know exactly which type of plan you are willing to commit to before working with a representative.

In general, Self Service is a better idea when first starting out because it gives you more flexibility to pay as you go (minimum of $5 per day). It also lets you explore the platform without sinking a ton of money into a long-term commitment.

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How do I set up an ad?

To get started, go to your Yelp Business Page and select “Yelp Ads” from the left hand side.

You will follow a step-by-step tutorial to set up your ad, starting with filling out your “business’s specialties.” This is just a short description of the services your practice provides.

On the second page, you will then set your ad budget.

You can also choose to spend a few extra dollars per day to select and “Enhanced Profile Upgrade.”

This allows you to remove competing ads from your own page, choose the order of photos and videos on the ad, and include the CTA button.

Finally, you'll add billing information and place your order.

It’s that simple!

How do I measure the success of my Yelp ad?

Like all marketing campaigns, the success of your ad depends on the goals you set.

These goals can include increasing the number of Yelp reviews, increasing traffic to your site, appearing higher in Google search, etc.

One downfall of Yelp is its lack of sophistication with targeting and analytics.

Compared to the laser-focused targeting abilities of Facebook ads and the well-oiled machine that is Google Analytics, Yelp definitely falls behind.

Yelp measures impressions, leads, and clicks, which you can access through the “Yelp Ads” tab.

However, Yelp does not share which part of the ad the user clicked on (the link to your phone number, website, “Get Directions,” or call-to-action button).You can track the links to your website through Google Analytics, but the rest are really anybody’s guess.

To see if advertising on Yelp is working for your practice, write down your own metrics before placing your first order. These should include:

  • Number of Yelp reviews
  • Rank on Yelp
  • Rank on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
  • Number of unique visitors to website per day/week/month
  • Number of Yelp listing views
  • Messages from patients
  • Direction and map views
  • Number of appointments made through Yelp

Check in every week to track changes and adjust your budget accordingly. Yelp does note that getting results takes time, and it could take up to a year to see improvements.

The pros and cons of Yelp ads

Remember that Yelp is much more than a review site. It is a search engine and an active social media platform that is strongly tied to Google’s SERPs.

Because Yelp does such a great job with keywords and SEO, appearing at the top of a Yelp directory almost always guarantees that your practice will appear on the first page of Google.

Another pro of Yelp advertising is that it forces you to take your competition into consideration.

Where are you ranking in a local Yelp search? How many reviews do the practices paying for ads have compared to those who aren’t?

Taking stock of these factors is always a good gut check while growing your practice.

Still, Yelp Ads have their limits.

As previously mentioned, knowing whether or not your ad is working can be murky at best with Yelp’s analytics.

Unlike other online ad services like Facebook and Google AdWords, Yelp does not let businesses know which keywords or geolocation they are targeting in their ads.

Ads can also be pricey with expensive 12-month packages.

While there are plenty of justified naysayers, some businesses report as much as an 86% increase in directions and map views after targeting customers with Yelp ads.

With so many potential patients and reviews on the site, putting money into Yelp ads has the definite potential to increase your practice’s visibility.

As the platform continues to improve its advertising service, Yelp deserves consideration when creating your marketing budget.

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