Yelp Keeps Calling Me! What Do I Do?

local searchFirst of all, do you have any idea what Yelp is selling?

In 2012, Yelp became a publicly traded company on the US stock market, so revenue is more important than ever. Today, about 70% of Yelp’s profit comes from paid advertisements, like those the company solicits you for by phone. Your listing at Yelp is free, so what do you need to pay for? Yelp offers local advertising on search engine results pages for a business’ location. The company can also add your information to your competitors’ Yelp listing (not search engines) and remove their advertisement from your Yelp listing. In addition, the paid services can include a slide show, call to action button, and video on your Yelp listing. Packages start at $300 and go up to about $1000 per month, according to Yelp’s advertising page.

Does your dental office need Yelp’s paid service?
As of January 2013, Yelp had over 100 million visitors per month, and about a third came from mobile searches. This sounds huge, right? Well, Google was pulling in 100 billion searches per month in late 2012. In July 2013, Bing claims to have had over 19 billion searches, and Bing is second to Google in the search market, so there’s no one in between. Yelp, however, is not a search engine – it’s a review site, like CitySearch. Google has a review site, Google+ Local, and then there’s Yelp. There are also industry-related review sites, like the government-based HealthGrades.com, and paid review sites like Demandforce and Rate a Dentist. Angie’s List also comes to mind. There is no unbiased research to tell us how many people search for dentists on any particular review site, so we have to make informed decisions based on our best judgement. Enter the statistics…

The Truth is in the Stats

We know that about 20% of desktop searches are for a local search. We also know that about 50% of mobile searches are for local search. According to MDPM Consulting’s client base, dentists see 10-30% mobile traffic, and the rest are performed on desktop computers. Most people don’t search for a dentist by smart phone or tablet. They use these mobile devices to look for restaurants, retailers, and entertainment venues. If 30% of Yelp searches are mobile, and only 10-30% of searches for dentists are mobile, the percentage of people searching for dentists on Yelp gets pretty small.

Let’s talk about local search. Google holds about 75% of the market share for search engines, so Google is the biggest example we can imagine. People primarily use city and/or state in a local search, but some use neighborhoods, regions, and very few use zip codes in their queries. Google has made local search easy by tracking where logged-in Google users search from. If you do not log out of Gmail, YouTube, or any other Google-owned company’s site before initiating a Google search, Google will factor in your location and search history to provide your results. You automatically get local search. Dental practices are local businesses. Google automatically provides local results. Therefore, perhaps the best paid Internet marketing would be with Google. Hmmm.

A Dental Marketing Consultant’s Advice

The best value for your marketing dollars is Internet marketing, compared to print, radio, and TV ads. More granularly, organic search has significantly more long-term value than pay-per-click ads, or paid search. All businesses should take advantage of Yelp, Angie’s List, and other local listing services that offer a free listing. Use the exact name, address, and phone number on your website and local listings as is on your Google+ Local profile. When it comes to paid Internet marketing, if you’re going to do anything outside of organic SEO, do Google Adwords. They are pricey and should not be a substitute for a solid organic SEO strategy on your website, blog, microsites, local listings, and social profiles. However, Google Adwords has more value, in my opinion, than any other paid online advertising program. Remember, too, that a solid organic SEO strategy adds value, monetary value, to your dental practice. A high-ranking website can be sold with a practice, so it will put money in your pocket while you own your office and when you decide to retire.

About the Author: Jill Duty is the COO for MDPM Consulting, an Internet marketing firm for dentists and physicians. Call 972-781-8861 today for more information about SEO strategies and how to make the most of your dental practice’s marketing dollars.