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Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

Business Marketing

Customize and schedule your URL all in one place with URLcast

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Need a hand with marketing your latest URL? URLcast.io seeks to simplify the sharing process by bringing helpful link interactions together.

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Laptop on desk with man typing, open on blog custom URL page

Something that has become commonplace in our tech-heavy world is making URLs easier to click, read, and navigate. That’s why we turn to places like Bitly and Tiny URL to make URLs shorter and more customizable for blog and social media posts.

We also rely on tech to help give us a hand with other tech. An example of this includes using TweetDeck to schedule Tweets or using a number of platforms to schedule Instagram posts. Anything to make our online lives easier.

Now entering the URL realm is Urlcast.io, which comes equip with scheduling capabilities, donning itself as “the URL scheduler.” It works in 4 simple steps: Have an idea, schedule said idea, share that idea, and finally, play the waiting game.

Here’s how those 4 steps play out: First, find your idea and, when you have an online resource that you’d like to share, you can then set the URL to be scheduled for a release of your choosing. So, you will use the tool to create an online waiting room that people will be able to visit until the time that has been scheduled.

Next, write a catchy title and decide on a publication date. With this information, a new page is generated just for you with the title you have chosen and a countdown until the day you have chosen.

Then, share the new URL with your audience and your waiting room with everyone you want, every time they visit it, they will be able to see how much time is left for the big moment.

Finally, wait for that moment. Everyone who visits the new link will be able to see your waiting page until the date and time you have chosen is reached; when that time arrives, they will be redirected to the original link, leaving it uncovered.

This is a good way to build momentum around a marketing or PR campaign – or would be useful when something is embargoed. This also could be useful for ticket sales and the like.

On Urlcast’s website, an FAQ asks the developer what the future plans are for the tool. The answer? “The countdown page is very simple, currently it consists of a title and a countdown to the date you have selected. In the future we would like to add more features, like being able to change the background colors or add an image, a chat and a place to add posts and notifications to those who are waiting for the release time to arrive.”

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Business Marketing

How to be the best potential employee in your job hunt [INTERVIEW]

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Struggling in the job hunt? You’re not alone – but Nicole Clark, a Senior Professional in HR, has some advice to help you stand apart from the crowd.

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Interviewer writing on clipboard talking to person across a table during their job hunt.

The job hunt is a journey not often enjoyed by the potential employee. It can take a lot of searching, a lot of resume tweaking, and a lot of interviewing, in order to find a good fit. Sometimes, it takes more than that, and you need a little insight from an expert about how to go about the job search. Luckily, we have Senior Professional in Human Relations (SPHR), Nicole Clark, on tap to give us the inside scoop.

Taylor Leddin: What’s the number one thing a HR specialist looks at when reviewing a candidate?
Nicole Clark: When reviewing a candidate’s resume, it’s always imperative to ensure they have the fundamental skills needed in a position. When I move forward with conducting a phone screen or in person interview, it’s always important to ensure they’re a good fit from a cultural standpoint. Every company has its own unique culture and it’s important for hires to fit that culture otherwise it will eventually lead to issues down the line. With that being said, every candidate has their own personality and unique traits that they will bring to the role. However, the best hires are those that are able to make strong individual contributions while also working well within a team setting, which is why cultural fit ends up playing such an important role.

TL: What’s your biggest pet peeve with the job application process?
NC: My personal pet peeve is when candidates are not honest about their salary expectations during the beginning stages of the interview process. It’s frustrating when a candidate is in the final stages of an offer being made and they suddenly have high earning expectations that are not aligned with the company’s salary structure. I do not at all mind when candidates negotiate and are aware of their worth, but it’s a different story when all of the sudden candidates are asking for way more money than what we initially discussed. It’s important for candidates to be honest throughout the process about their expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page.

I also find it disheartening when candidates are only focused on the benefits and perks of the position as opposed to their job responsibilities. I understand that benefits are important, but it’s a red flag when candidates are asking me about how many days off they are going to receive during the initial phone screen. It makes me question candidates’ work ethic and also their priorities. I enjoy taking time off too, but those benefits will be discussed when the timing is appropriate, so it’s best to let the company lead that discussion when the timing is right.

TL: What advice do you have for people currently on the job hunt?
NC: Searching for a job is not easy and it can be a very demoralizing process. I think it’s important to not limit yourself during the initial application process. When I was job searching, I would apply to as many jobs as possible even if they did not appear to be “perfect” on paper. Every interview you have is good practice and allows you to better understand what exactly you are looking for in a position. Also, it’s important to remember that there is no “perfect” job! Every job is going to have downsides, but the best jobs are those where you enjoy both the work and the people who you are working with.

TL: Since you’ve been on both sides of the interview table, what would you say is the most important thing about interviewing?
NC: To me, the most important thing about interviewing is to be yourself and to remember that you’re interviewing the company too. While they are looking for the best person for the role, you’re also looking for the best position for the next step of your career. It’s important to ask questions and really understand the role that you’re going to have in the company. While it’s completely understandable to be nervous during the job hunt, it’s important to remember that they want to find the best person for the position and for them to do so, they need to really meet the real you.

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Business Marketing

How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation

(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.

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good listeners breed good listeners

We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.

Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.

“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.

Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.

So what can we do to ensure we’re the listeners we’ve always wanted from others? Being a good listener does take time, energy, and tons of practice. There are easy tips to keep in mind:

  1. Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
  2. Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
  4. Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
  5. Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.

By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.

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