If you own a local business, be it a restaurant, bar, retail store, or even a local service provider, you may have heard of Yelp Elite. This coveted group of “expert reviewers” will be more aware of their ratings from others.
Yelp Elite Squad reviews can have positive or negative effects on your business reputation, although negative reviews can help make your business appear more trustworthy.
What is the Yelp Elite Squad?
Yelp offers “Yelp Elite Benefits” to anyone who is considered a role model on the site. You can achieve this crown by fulfilling some of the following qualifications:
- Well written reviews
- A large number of both positive and critical reviews
- A complete profile with lots of high quality photos
- Detailed personal information
- A background to respond positively to criticism
To become a member of the Yelp Elite Squad, it is clear that you cannot simply jump from restaurant to restaurant to get negative reviews in exchange for free meals. These people are usually food bloggers, photographers, and digital nomads who spend most of their time traveling and trying the goods in each location.
Why your business should partner with the Yelp Elite Squad
There are a couple of top reasons you might want to work with these individual reviews:
Your status is important
Getting Yelp Elite status isn’t as easy as you think.
These people must write up to 40-50 high quality reviews per year, maintain a large social network of other reviewers, interact with people on the platform, and a number of other factors to achieve and maintain this status.
what does that mean to you?
It means a lot of exposure when you can deliver a great experience.
You could Become the local expert
Does your company specialize in something? Elite members love to go to places where they can get something that isn’t available everywhere. It gives them something to talk about in the review.
It’s the difference between reviewing a hamburger joint and reviewing a vegan gastropub.
If your company is doing something unique or can get attention for a specific product, it’s worth inviting a member or group and kicking it out of the park.
How your local business can get involved in the Yelp Elite Squad
There are a few easy ways to get the Yelp Elite Squad to work.
Host elite parties
Hosting a Yelp Elite event could be a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Yelp makes this easy as you can message your local Yelp community manager and they’ll work with you to host an event when that’s convenient.
Regardless of the type of company, you have some positive reviews and a unique product on offer. It doesn’t hurt to do your best.
Participate in forums
Commenting on local forums on Yelp is a great way to get your name out there, and it’s a very easy way to outperform the competition. Let’s say you own a ramen restaurant in downtown Knoxville and people are posting on a forum trying to find something unique about the city.
Keeping up to date and checking in regularly is a great way to get in on the thread to let people know you opened a ramen restaurant, provide the address, and give a little background about the place.
Keep in mind that most likely you will not have access to communicate with Yelp Elite members. However, discussing this with regular Yelper members may be a great way to get your foot in the door.
Sometimes you just need to go all in and message someone directly. If you find that there are certain Yelp Elite members in your area who you really want to add to your business, here’s a simple method you can try.
You want to filter by the location and type of your business. For example, if you own a day spa, you wouldn’t want to message a member who typically rates restaurants.
You can then filter your competition by ratings and they should have “Elite” status. You can gather all the people who review companies in your niche and send them messages one by one.
Before doing this, you should be selective about who you notify. Do not invite someone who is overly critical. As with any marketing, you need to understand your audience.
Check out their profile, see what they like and what are some of their personality traits, and don’t be afraid to brush them off a little.
Don’t just talk about your specials or what you do in your company. Talk about the benefits of visiting and how it can potentially improve each other for both of you.
Companies that have succeeded with Yelp Elite
Here’s a great example of how local businesses can achieve amazing results using the Yelp Elite program. In this scenario, six different companies came together to offer all Indianapolis members a unique and extraordinary experience.
In this “Friendsgiving” elitists were brought together for dinner, dessert and drinks tasting in a unique setting in the Tomlinson City Market Catacombs. You created an unforgettable experience and when you look at this the five star ratings are endless. This is likely to have a positive impact on their business in the years to come.
In another scenario, we see that you don’t have to own a restaurant, bar, or grocery brand to benefit from Yelp Elite. In Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, elite members toured the 1920s building, learned about the city’s past and learned all about the mystery behind their city.
This resulted in some amazing reviews, positive experiences, and promotions for the city’s arts district in exchange for a small fraction of their time.
How does the Yelp Elite team compare to Google Guides?
If you’ve heard of Yelp Elite, you’ve probably heard of Google Guides, too. Launched around 2015, this platform provides a way for Google to incentivize people who regularly review local businesses. It encourages these people to write more reviews so that Google can provide a more enjoyable experience for its users.
Local guides receive a badge on their profile, social media features, and even an annual thank you of unknown value.
The only problem I see with Google Guides compared to Yelp Elite is that anyone can get this badge on Google if they exceed a certain number of reviews. Many of these people only write reviews after they have had a bad experience. The reviewers are not manually screened like in Yelp.
The program seems much more “open” and less sought after than elite status, but they are still important as a badge can be visible.
Nor does it seem like Google is creating a large community out of its Google manuals, as it is with Yelp. There is no other way to create events or convince these reviewers to visit your company other than scour the internet to try and find their contact information, which may be strange to the individual.
Other ways to work with influencers
We live in the age of the influencer. While we’re more focused on Instagram and TikTok today, Yelp Elites were the original influencers, and they’re still relevant today. As a business owner, you shouldn’t ignore these people, or Yelp in general.
It may seem painful or even distressing to turn to “professional reviewers”, but it is beneficial to your business. While not guaranteed, a great event or a few positive reviews from elite status members can give your business more visibility in the Yelp search results.
If you’re looking for different ways to work with influencers, here are some quick tips:
Like Yelp, send DMs to people near you by searching for relevant hashtags that apply to your community. Find influencers in your niche and location and send out a series of DMs asking them to come up in exchange for a free product or service.
The good thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to follow the Yelp community guidelines that say you can’t trade in goods and services for reviews. You may find a new elitist looking to do more reviews and this could be a great way to get your name out there!
You can become an influencer yourself on TikTok. The platform is ripe for people who want to make a name for themselves. Publish some of the most interesting aspects of your business and follow the trends.
Post all the latest trends on TikTok and try to grab the attention of local influencers. Once you do, find a way to contact them by searching for them on other platforms. If they’re on TikTok, they’re probably on Instagram too, and it’s a lot easier to get in touch with them there.
As much as we like to keep our pride intact, there are times when we benefit from putting it aside and doing what we know we need to do for our business. Yelp Elite members are the first influencers and are more than relevant for brick and mortar businesses.
If you’re trying to get attention and get more popular in your community, Yelp Elite can help. If you’re having trouble managing your reputation, my team can help you with that.
Do you think Yelp Elite is an important part of a local SEO strategy?