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A Complete Guide to Yelp Ads for Local Businesses

When it comes to growing a local business, word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal.

The challenge for many local businesses, however, is that this can take a significant amount of time to develop word-of-mouth organically, especially for newer establishments. While there are many local marketing tools that can help you grow the business's reviews faster, others may want to skip the line and get in front of their target customers right away. 

Enter Yelp Ads.

Whether you’re managing Yelp Ads for your own local business or for clients, in this guide, we’ll discuss how to get set up with the platform. In addition, we’ll discuss several key metrics to track to improve your Yelp Ads PPC performance over time. In particular, we’ll discuss:

  • Introduction to Yelp Ads
  • Google Ads vs. Yelp Ads
  • Step-by-Step: How to Setup Yelp Ads
  • Key Metrics to Track Your Yelp Ads Performance

Let’s get started.

Introduction to Yelp Ads

First off, it’s important to note that there are other premium options for businesses other than just Yelp Ads, these include:

  • Business Highlights
  • Profile Upgrades
  • Yelp Deals
  • Yelp Reservations

In this guide, we’ll just focus on Yelp Ads, which allow businesses to display mobile and desktop ads on both their search results page and on business pages. Just like Google Ads, you can see the sponsored results appear above the organic results in their search results:

On business pages, you can see there’s an option to advertise on competitor pages. The ads below are referred to as Custom Ads that include the option to select that image and review that is displayed to users:

Google Ads vs. Yelp Ads

One of the first questions that marketers and local businesses may have is whether to advertise on Google Ads or Yelp Ads. Before we get into how to set up Yelp Ads, let’s first review a few of the key similarities and differences between the ad platforms.

Both Google Ads and Yelp Ads are PPC platforms that charge based on the number of clicks as opposed to impressions. It has been said that Yelp Ads have an average CPC higher than many other ad platforms, although it’s important to note that people on Yelp are typically later in the buying stage than those searching on Google. In fact, a study of Yelp revealed the following statistics:

  • 97% of people make a purchase with a business they find on Yelp
  • 90% of people purchase within a week of visiting Yelp
  • 51% purchase within a day

As you can see, while you may see higher CPC’s on Yelp, you may still see a profitable ROAS due to the fact that users are in a much later stage of the buying cycle. 

As Instapage highlights about Yelp's 178 million monthly active users:

Most of those 178 million users visit Yelp to find great local businesses, as they’ve already decided what they need and are now simply trying to discover who can best provide it to them.

In short, Google Ads will (of course) have much more traffic when it comes to search and keyword intent, although Yelp Ads typically have a higher purchase intent so they may be worth testing for local businesses.

Step-by-Step: How to Setup Yelp Ads

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of Yelp Ads, let’s review the process of setting up a Yelp ad campaign from their Getting Started guide. If you’ve set up ads on other platforms, this process is very similar to any other platform so we won’t spend too much time here.

1. Choose a Goal for the Campaign

Assuming you already have a business account setup and have claimed the listing, the first step is to select a goal for the campaign. There are several goal types businesses can choose to optimize for, including:

  • Phone calls
  • Website visitors
  • Messages

2. Select Your Ad Photo

Next, you can either choose to let Yelp test various ad photos and use the one that gets the most clicks or you can choose your own ad photo.

3. Write the Ad Copy

The next step is to write your ad copy. Yelp recommends writing ad copy that highlights what is unique about the brand, for example, the business history, if it’s family-owned, and so on. 

4. Keyword Selection

Next, you have the optimize to choose the keywords that your ad will appear for. By default, you’ll see this section automatically populate with pre-set keywords that are pulled from your business listing, and then you can choose to keep or remove them. Additionally, you can choose to add negative keywords, or keywords where the ad won’t be shown.

source

5. Choose the target location

Yelp Ads work based on location-based targeting, so you’ll need to decide how far around your location you want ads to be served. Typically, businesses will choose to show ads around a 10-50km radius from the business location.

6. Set the Daily Budget

Finally, you need to choose a daily budget for your ads. In this section, you’ll also see an estimated CPC and the number of clicks you’ll get each day to help decide the daily budget.

Key Metrics to Track Your Yelp Ads Performance

Just like other ad platforms, meticulously tracking your results is key to building profitable campaigns and succeeding in the long run. In this section, we’ll look at a few key metrics from our Yelp Ads integration that will help you achieve this goal.

The two sections in our Yelp Ads integration are split into Overview and Programs. The Overview section provides a summary of how each campaign is performing, and the Programs section provides a more granular breakdown of each campaign's performance. 

Below, we'll look at a few key Yelp Ads metrics in the Programs section to track PPC performance.

Billed Clicks

As mentioned, Yelp Ads are billed on a cost-per-click basis. As highlighted in our Help Center:

The price you pay per click is based on competition and relevance, but you'll always pay the least amount needed to win the click.

CPCs on Yelp vary widely based on competitiveness and are said to range between $0.30, which typically can be seen for local restaurants, and $40 per click, which are common for higher-priced local businesses such as law firms. 

CTA Clicks

Equally important to tracking your overall clicks is monitoring how many users directly click your call-to-action (CTA). The CTA button invites users to take a specific action such as completing an order versus simply clicking on a link to the website, for example. As Yelp highlights about their CTA feature:

A CTA may be a more useful metric than a phone call or a mapped direction because it closes the loop between search and a transaction, providing measurable ROI. 

Messages

Yelp Ads also offers advertisers a messaging feature that allows users to send a message to the business directly from their Yelp business page. This feature also shows users the response rate and average response time, so it's important to keep on top of Yelp messages. Depending on the type of business, messages can also be changed to "Request a Quote", "Request a Consultation", or "Message the Business":

Call Reporting

Finally, for many local businesses, phone calls are their number one lead source. In order to enable call reporting in Yelp Ads, you simply need to look for the section called "Get more accurate call reporting" and click on "Activate", which will then allow you to track the time and duration of calls coming into the business

Summary: Yelp Ads for Local Businesses

For many local businesses, review sites like Yelp can be their number one source of new leads. As discussed, the main differentiator of a platform like Yelp is that users often have a much higher purchase intent than those on Google, for example. For these users, Yelp acts as both a local search engine and a reviews platform that helps them make their final buying decision. 

Whether you're testing Yelp Ads for your own business or for clients, tracking key advertising metrics ensures you're improving results over time, and ideally seeing a positive ROAS. That said, if you're looking to automate your Yelp Ads reporting, check out our recent integration announcement with the platform for more details.

Written by Peter Foy

Peter Foy is a content marketer with a focus on SaaS companies. Based in Montreal, QC, when he’s not writing or managing ad campaigns, he’s usually studying data science and machine learning.