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==== ==== What business doesn't need a higher star rating by Google, Yelp or the other rating sites? Now you will improve your rating significantly or your money back. ==== ====

With more than 75% of adults turning to the internet to make LOCAL buying decisions, social networking sites like Yelp are more popular than ever. In June of this year, 33 million consumers visited Yelp to learn about local small businesses. Whether you know it or not, your small business may already have a presence on Yelp. The question is - are you in control of it? Yelp is a social networking site that allows consumers to learn about - and rate - their favorite (and not-so-favorite) places to eat, shop, play, and spend their hard-earned dollars. Ignoring social sites like Yelp isn't going to make them go away or prevent negative reviews. Remember the golden rule of Social Media Marketing? SOCIAL MEDIA IS AT LEAST 51% LISTENING. And if you haven't set up your listening station to be notified when people are talking about you (using Google Alerts, for example) on the web, you are missing a huge opportunity - or worse - you could be responsible for sabotaging your own business. Some Yelp Basics: You don't have to claim your page or set up an account for people to be able to post reviewsThat's right- anyone can add your business and review it. You may already be there and not even know it. This could be extremely damaging to your business. One local company I know personally had about 5 bad reviews on Yelp and didn't even know it. Who knows how much business they lost because of that. If they'd known they could have taken some of the steps below to either correct the situation, or at least respond to the reviews. Claim/unlock your business page- go to Yelp to claim your business page and unlock all the tools that are available to business owners: like tracking number of visitors, demographic info of reviewers so you can learn more about your target market and how they found you, you can post hours, specials, photos, or anything else you want your potential customers to know about your business - and of course the ability to respond to reviews. Respond to negative reviews - either publicly or privately - what a great way to turn a negative into a positive! We all make mistakes and most consumers will forgive a mistake if it's handled appropriately. How to handle a negative review: Respond privately: If someone leaves a bad review you now have the option of communicating with them privately to work it out. I recommend doing so - immediately. Do what you can to resolve

the issue- this is an awesome opportunity to create goodwill, save a customer, and perhaps generate awesome word-of-mouth marketing. Once the customer is happy ask them, "Have we satisfactorily resolved your complaint?" "Would you recommend us to a friend?" If the answer is yes, ask them if they would either revise or amend their Yelp review to let people know how your resolved the issue. If the customer doesn't do it- you can then go to a public response - see below. Respond publicly: You can also respond publicly and I've seen this done extremely well. You can tactfully state your case. Did you try unsuccessfully to resolve the issue? Tell people! Did you go out of your way to try to make it right? Tell people! Did you respond to the customer privately and rectify the situation? Talk about it! Also keep in mind - there will always be complainers - and the Yelp community can spot one a mile away (anyone can access all of a person's reviews and if they're chronic complainers their opinion will most likely be ignored by potential customers).

Author Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don't deliver and help you implement an effective marketing system that will bring you more customers consistently. For more information about Carolyn Higgins and Fortune Marketing Company please visit or email: Get free small business tips and ideas by subscribing to the Fortune Newsletter:

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==== ==== What business doesn't need a higher star rating by Google, Yelp or the other rating sites? Now you will improve your rating significantly or your money back. ==== ====

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Improve your Google and Yelp rating in 30 days or your money back.

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