Yelp has long been a go-to platform for consumers seeking reviews on local businesses, but is it still worth it for service businesses in 2024? With evolving digital landscapes and new competitors, service businesses must weigh the pros and cons of maintaining a presence on Yelp. This article delves into the benefits and drawbacks, compares Yelp to other platforms, and offers tips for maximizing your free Yelp listing.

Key Takeaways

  • Yelp remains a powerful platform for gathering customer reviews, which can build trust and credibility for service businesses.
  • Negative reviews and the cost of advertising are significant drawbacks that businesses need to consider.
  • Platforms like Thumbtack, Fiverr, and Google My Business offer alternative avenues for service businesses to reach potential customers.
  • Maximizing a free Yelp listing involves encouraging customer reviews, optimizing your profile, and engaging with feedback.
  • Investing in Yelp advertising can be beneficial, but businesses should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to ensure it aligns with their goals.

Why Yelp Still Matters for Service Businesses

The Power of Reviews

Even with Yelp ads, those people will still want to find relevant reviews so they can determine which is the best company to go with. This means that if your business profile isn’t established, then you are not likely to see great benefits from advertising on the platform.

Building Trust with Customers

Yelp isn’t bad at driving sales, either. In fact, four out of five Yelp users visit the website when they’re prepared to make a purchase—and 55 percent of users take action with a local business. Instead of casually browsing for their next contractor, homeowners directly engage with businesses after finding their Yelp business listing.

Visibility and Reach

Yelp sits at the end of the purchase funnel, meaning most searchers already have a need for your services and they’re prepared to spend money. Now, they’re searching “HVAC near me” to find the right service provider to seal the deal.

Yelp – Official Blog features resources for consumers and businesses—with the latest on product launches and updates, data trends, community initiatives, and more.

The Downsides of Using Yelp

Negative Reviews Impact

One of the biggest issues with Yelp is the impact of negative reviews. Negative reviews can significantly harm a business’s reputation, and Yelp’s platform often brings these to the forefront. This can be incredibly frustrating for business owners, especially when dealing with fraudulent or troll reviews. In some cases, businesses have had to take legal action to address these issues, as seen with Hadeed Carpet in Virginia.

Yelp has an adversarial relationship with business, and businesses are foolish to reward them with advertising dollars.

Cost of Advertising

Advertising on Yelp can be quite costly, and many business owners feel that the revenue return is not worth the spend. Yelp charges on a per-impression basis rather than per-click, which means you pay every time your listing shows up, not just when someone clicks on it. This can lead to high costs without guaranteed results. Additionally, Yelp ads often appear alongside competitors’ listings, which can result in potential customers choosing a different business even after clicking on your ad.

Customer Service Issues

Yelp’s customer service has been a point of contention for many business owners. There are numerous complaints about Yelp’s practices, including allegations that they bury positive reviews and display negative ones to push businesses into advertising. The FTC has received over 2000 complaints about these practices. Furthermore, Yelp’s lack of transparency in their ad platform makes it difficult for businesses to verify the actual economic value of leads coming from Yelp ads.

TransparencyNo clear information on ad spend keywords/topics
DemographicsYelp skews to a younger audience, which may not align with all businesses
Economic ValueHard to verify the value of leads from Yelp ads

Overall, while Yelp can offer some benefits, the downsides often outweigh the positives for many service businesses.

Comparing Yelp to Other Platforms

Thumbtack vs. Yelp

When it comes to home and local services, Thumbtack is a strong competitor to Yelp. Thumbtack allows service providers to bid on projects, which can be more cost-effective for businesses. On the other hand, Yelp’s review system can help build trust with potential customers. However, the cost-per-click on Yelp varies from click to click depending on the supply and demand of advertisers, available ad inventory, and consumer interest.

Fiverr and Upwork

Fiverr and Upwork are popular platforms for freelancers offering a wide range of services. While Yelp focuses more on local businesses, Fiverr and Upwork cater to a global audience. This makes them ideal for digital services like graphic design, writing, and programming. Yelp, however, offers a more localized approach, which can be beneficial for businesses looking to attract customers in their immediate area.

Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is another powerful tool for service businesses. GMB offers a range of features that can help improve your online presence, such as Google Reviews, business hours, and location information. Unlike Yelp, GMB is integrated with Google Search and Maps, making it easier for customers to find your business. Social media seems to change overnight, so there’s a good chance that Yelp has been sitting on its offerings while other platforms are building them up.

Given that Yelp has historically positioned itself as the go-to for restaurant reviews, services like DoorDash and Uber Eats are eating up their market share. There’s also been a rise in places users can get information about a business. Google has been improving their offerings, Facebook has been rolling out additional services for business pages, and so on.

Maximizing Your Free Yelp Listing

Encouraging Customer Reviews

Start with the simple suggestions first, like volunteering in your community, starting a referral program, and claiming your business page on Yelp. Encouraging customer reviews is crucial for building trust and boosting your online visibility. When customers leave positive reviews, it not only enhances your reputation but also helps you rank higher in search results.

Optimizing Your Profile

Time is money. And at the end of the day, Yelp is another platform that takes time to manage. While you might be able to take a “set it and forget it” approach to some of your business listings, you should skip this strategy with Yelp. Just like social media, you’ll want to spend time maintaining your profile, responding to reviews and inquiries, and keeping your Yelp listing current.

Engaging with Feedback

Even with advertising, if they don’t see reviews then trust is hard to build. So, after you’re listed everywhere, focus on getting reviews as many places as you can. If a customer came from Google Business, ask them to review you there. If they came from Yelp, ask them to review you there. Keep doing that as you build up your business presence online.

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.

Is Yelp Advertising Worth the Investment?

Understanding Yelp Ads

Yelp offers two types of paid features to businesses: Business Page Upgrades and Yelp Ads. Business Page Upgrades allow you to enhance the way your Yelp profile page looks and functions. On the other hand, Yelp Ads help you generate more leads by sponsoring your business on search listings. But should you pay to advertise on Yelp? It depends. If you have a limited budget, Yelp might not be worth it for your business.

Cost vs. Benefit Analysis

Advertising on Yelp costs $150/month, at minimum, to have your business sponsored on search listings. That means it’s 1,000x more expensive than traditional PPC. However, Yelp advertising works across a variety of different business categories. The average advertiser sees a 168% monthly lift in customer leads after advertising.

$150/month168% monthly lift in customer leads

Success Stories and Failures

While some businesses report significant gains from Yelp Ads, others find it to be a costly endeavor with very few long-term residual effects. If you decide to move forward, just keep in mind that Yelp’s advertising program is a slippery slope so navigate with caution. Look at your statistics regularly and compare the cost per click with revenue earned from customer visits.

If you already have many customers telling you they found your business on Yelp, it might be worth considering Yelp Ads. However, always weigh the costs and benefits carefully to ensure you’re making the best decision for your business.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Yelp

Yelp can be a powerful tool for service businesses, but to truly benefit, you need to know how to use it effectively. Here are some tips to help you maximize your Yelp presence.

Responding to Reviews

Engaging with your customers by responding to reviews is crucial. Positive reviews are more valuable than advertising. When you respond to reviews, it shows that you care about customer feedback and are willing to make improvements. This can turn a negative review into a positive experience for future customers.

Using Yelp Analytics

Yelp’s community team keeps a pulse on the most helpful Yelp tools. One of these tools is Yelp Analytics, which provides valuable insights into how users interact with your business. Use this data to understand what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Promoting Special Offers

Special offers can attract new customers and retain existing ones. Use Yelp to promote these offers and make your business stand out. Remember, time is money, so make sure your offers are compelling and time-sensitive to create a sense of urgency.

Time is money. And at the end of the day, Yelp is another platform that takes time to manage. While you might be able to take a “set it and forget it” approach to some of your business listings, you should skip this strategy with Yelp.

By following these tips, you can make the most out of your Yelp listing and ensure that it contributes positively to your business’s success.

Maximize your Yelp experience by leveraging expert tips and strategies. Whether you’re looking to boost your visibility or attract more customers, our foundational marketing approach can help you achieve your goals. Visit our website to learn more about how we can assist you in growing your business.


So, is Yelp still worth it for service businesses? Well, it really depends on your specific needs and industry. If you’re in the home and local professional services sector, Yelp might be a good fit for you, given that a significant portion of their revenue comes from these areas. However, for small businesses, especially those outside these sectors, the platform might not offer the best return on investment. It’s always a good idea to explore other advertising options like Thumbtack or even Google My Business before committing to Yelp. At the end of the day, Yelp can be a useful tool for getting reviews and driving sales, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. So, weigh your options and choose what’s best for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Yelp worth it for service businesses?

It depends. Yelp can be effective for home and local professional services, but it’s wise to explore other platforms like Thumbtack before making a decision.

Is Yelp good for small businesses?

Yelp can be beneficial, but many small businesses find more success with platforms like Google My Business.

Are Yelp ads worth the investment?

The effectiveness of Yelp ads varies. While some businesses see great results, others do not. It’s essential to weigh the costs and benefits before investing.

How can I maximize my free Yelp listing?

Encourage customer reviews, optimize your profile, and engage with feedback to make the most of your free Yelp listing.

What are the main downsides of using Yelp?

Negative reviews, the cost of advertising, and customer service issues are common downsides of using Yelp.

How does Yelp compare to other platforms like Thumbtack and Google My Business?

Yelp is strong for local reviews and visibility, but other platforms like Thumbtack and Google My Business may offer better lead generation and customer engagement for some businesses.