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Yelp is one of the most prominent review sites.

Many people don’t even know that advertisements for their business on Yelp are an option. Many business owners are simply frustrated by the lack of reviews being posted on Yelp; or if they are getting reviews, a good portion of them are being filtered out by Yelp. Yelp advertising allows you, as the business owner, to highlight the reviews you like the most, and it comes with a host of other features. Obviously, these features cost money, so the next question is this: Is it worth it to pay for Yelp advertising? First, let’s look at what Yelp’s advertising program will do for your business. When you sign up for their Sponsorship Program, your business’s profile on Yelp becomes enhanced with a slideshow, highlighted reviews, and sponsored search results—basically, when someone uses a search engine to type in keywords applicable to your business, your Yelp page will show up on the first page of results. Now that you know what Yelp’s Sponsorship Program will do for you, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons—and more specifically, to compare cheap online advertisements to the ads that Yelp can provide for you. Online advertisements on sites such as Facebook will always come at a much cheaper price than Yelp’s advertisements. Before you immediately jump on the cheap ads bandwagon, consider this: the difference is that, with Yelp ads, a potential customer is deliberately seeking out services that could be provided by your business. People who find your Yelp ad are already prepared to spend money and are just looking for the best place to do it, whereas other online advertisements are not typically needed or wanted by their viewers.
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Pop-up advertisements are rarely wanted or needed by their viewers.

On the other hand, remember that alternative online ads will bring the viewer directly to your site, while Yelp ads bring the viewer to your Yelp profile page. Granted, if you’ve paid for Yelp advertising then you also get the slideshow and the improved profile, but remember that this is a page where any customer can write whatever they want about your business. Your own website will provide the viewer with information about your products and services, and you can post glowing testimonials instead of a mixture of good, bad, and ugly reviews. Also in contrast with your own website, your Yelp page offers little to no information about what you can provide for the community. Now that you’re probably even more confused about whether or not to pay for Yelp advertising than you were before you read this, ask yourself these two questions: 1) Would I rather pay for a sought-out ad for my Yelp page, or an unsolicited ad for my own business’s website?  And 2) How much money am I willing to spend? To help address the first question, you should consider the quality of reviews on your Yelp page and how much business you typically expect to come from it. If you only have a few reviews, if the majority of good reviews have been filtered, or you would rather the customer see your own website, then it’s a better idea to send a potential customer straight to your site. Ultimately, though, that’s a decision you will have to make for yourself. In response to the second question, always be sure of how much you would be spending and then decide whether you’re willing to spend it. Be warned, though: Yelp tends to be pretty hush-hush about their prices unless you contact them about signing up for their program, and their reps are known for being pushy. In addition, be aware that they generally charge for CPI (cost per thousand impressions), meaning that the charge is not for how many times your ad is clicked on, but how many times your ad simply appears on a webpage. Yelp also typically asks for lengthy commitments, so you’re required to pay a hefty amount for an extended period of time–even if their ads don’t do much for your business. The bottom line is that it’s important to figure out how much money you’re willing to spend, as well as how much money you would be spending if you did sign up for Yelp’s Sponsorship Program. Above all, do your research on your own Yelp page and how their program typically affects businesses similar to yours. Most business owners will refute the Sponsorship Program and say that they regret ever signing up, but some swear by it and have seen dramatic improvements to the amount of business conducted. In the end, it’s up to you!