Why You Should Embrace (Some of) Yelp's Small-Business Powers

Our business encourages 100 percent of our customers to write reviews of our repair service. Most people that write reviews put them on Yelp. This is valuable for four major reasons:

It helps build trust with potential new customers. We put a link to our Yelp page on our site and encourage everyone to read what others say. This, of course, means you need to create happy customers.

Yelp ranks well on Google. It currently has the No. 1 organic result for "Chicago iPhone Repair." That result links to a Yelp page showing a variety of companies in Chicago that fix iPhones. You can't be on that list if you're not on Yelp.

Some customers go straight to Yelp to find local services. Being listed in those results and having a good rating will get you business.

It's free.

Our company is a real-world example of Yelp's power. This past April, we had 510 customers in our Chicago store. Sixty-five said they found us through Yelp. That's 13 percent of our business, or roughly $4,000, in revenue. The marketing cost for that revenue? Zero dollars. That's a good deal.

To quickly summarize: Being on Yelp will give your business added validity and discoverability for free.

But I don't recommend paying for their advertising for two big reasons. It costs too much and your top competitors will get extra exposure at your expense.

According to Yelp, my business could expect to pay about $3.19 per click (your industry might be different). That's about twice as expensive as Google ads. With Google, if someone clicks your ad, they go to your website where you control the experience. That's not the case with Yelp. Clicking a Yelp ad takes a person to your Yelp page -- where Yelp controls the experience.

That experience is the problem. Even if you're paying for ads, Yelp displays your competitors' information. That's right. Your prospective customers that you paid for access to will be shown your top competitors' information on your Yelp page. This is completely unacceptable.

Let me finish by saying there is one Yelp service I do recommend and that's Yelp Deals. Their deals option is one of the best on the market and worth checking out.

Matt McCormick is founder and co-owner of JCD Repair -- a smartphone and tablet repair company operating in Chicago as well as three other cities. Prior to starting JCD Repair, he was a freelance web developer, a programmer at Microsoft, lectured on operating systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and spent three years selling robotics equipment. He has a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's in Computer Science.

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