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Yelp may be known for being the place to go for restaurant reviews, but what is often forgotten is that the site covers a huge variety of services businesses – including salons, movers, plumbers, hotels, and much more. 

Now, the company is releasing a slew of new features for all of these businesses, like custom search filters, new ways to drive reviews, Project Cost Guides, and ads themed around what makes your brand great.

Project Cost Guides

To help consumers make informed decisions before they hire a professional, Yelp is introducing new Cost Guides which show the average cost of specific services in your area. These prices are based on data pulled from Yelp’s Request-A-Quote service, which has facilitated “tens of millions” of projects.

Along with these pricing averages, these pages provide tips and cost-saving methods for consumers.

Currently, unique Cost Guides are available for around 20 categories, more than 90 service types, and 150+ cities.

Custom Search Filters

Users can filter businesses based on their specialties or unique abilities, such as filters for:

  • Fast-responding businesses
  • Businesses who offer virtual consultations
  • Specific types of jobs or repairs
  • And more available for services including movers, plumbers, HVAC, auto repair, roofing, real estate agents, home cleaners, painters, electricians, landscaping, pest control, and flooring

Themed Ads

Services businesses that are running search ads can now take advantage of themed ads to highlight what makes you stand out from your competition.

The currently available themes include brands that reply to Request-A-Projects within two hours, businesses that have special offers, or those that provide free consultations. 

Running themed ads costs nothing extra and Yelp says it plans to introduce more themes in the future.

Automatic Review Prompts

After users submit a project with Yelp’s Request-A-Quote tool, the platform will now use this information to generate a prompt for users to write reviews. 

For example, prompts may ask a series of questions about their experience to kickstart the review process and drive more thoughtful informative reviews.

You can find out more about these new features for services brands in the official announcement from Yelp here.

Not long ago, it seemed like every business website had a “Testimonials” page filled with reviews and references from either past-customers or fellow members of their industry. If you have a keen eye, though, you might have noticed these pages are slowly falling out of use in favor of posting your Google, Yelp, and other online reviews on your site.

The practice has led to some confusion, as many experts claimed putting your own online reviews from across the web on your site could be potentially dangerous for search engine optimization. There have even been suggestions it could lead to Google penalties.

Now, you can breathe easy and share your online reviews with pride, as Google webmaster trends analyst John Mueller has confirmed that it is totally fine to highlight your reviews on your company website – with one exception.

While posting your reviews on your website is acceptable, Mueller warns that you can not use review structured data on these reviews.

As Mueller explained on Twitter:

“From a Google SEO point of view, I don’t see a problem with that. I imagine the original is more likely to rank for that text, but if you use that to provide context, that’s fine (it shouldn’t be marked up with structured data though).”

Mueller then went on to explain that review structured data is intended for reviews “directly produced by your site” and using them on third-party reviews on your own site would go against Google’s guidelines.

Reviews are one of the best tools local businesses have for establishing a reputation and trust within their community. The problem is it can be difficult to convince customers to leave their opinion on Google or Yelp, especially due to Yelp’s strict “no review solicitation policy.”

Yelp’s Luther Lowe gave a tip to help get past this hurdle and start generating reviews at the LSA SMX West Local Search Advantage Workshop.

Yelp’s policy against review solicitation prevents businesses from asking for positive reviews, though it has not prevented some other creative attempts to gain a positive standing on the site. However, Yelp does allow incentivized check-ins. Obviously check-ins are not reviews, but when users check-in to receive an offer, they are automatically prompted to review that business the next time that return to the site or mobile app.

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This system gives businesses a means of encouraging users to leave a review without placing their hands on the scale. The problem with allowing incentivized reviews is obviously that many people would be pushed to give dishonest reviews, but through a pre-review reward users are still free to speak their mind.

From a business matter, this also benefits Yelp because more check-ins equates to more value and usage, but it also gives a valuable place for businesses to lightly nudge customers to help spread the word.