Is Yelp Advertising Worth The Cost For Your Small Business?

Written by Nick Leffler | 12 Comments | 8 min read

Home » The Online Presence Blog » Business » Is Yelp Advertising Worth The Cost For Your Small Business?

If you’ve set up a Yelp profile for your small business then you know the pains you’ll experience. Every time you set up a Yelp profile, Yelp’s salespeople will call you, a lot. They’ll try to sell you premium features and Yelp advertising. They’ll even try to get you to sign a contract.

Before you sign up for your Yelp profile, decide whether you’re going to spend any extra money or not (at least initially). When the Yelp salespeople come ringing you better have an answer or the pressure will come on.

This post has some ideas of advertising on Yelp and my experience with a limited run. I’ve also recently done a 3-month experiment with a Yelp ad contract and wrote an honest Yelp advertising review.

Read it and also continue this one before you look any further into Yelp advertising.

That doesn’t mean avoid signing up for Yelp, though. There is a chance Yelp will be a lucrative place to get business. There’s also a chance Yelp will end up being a non-lucrative place to lose a lot of money if you jump right into paying for premium features.

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Start your relationship with Yelp on a positive note by understanding what Yelp advertising and business page upgrades are and what they can do for you.

Before you create a Yelp business profile, know whether or not you want to advertise. Click To Tweet

What It Is

There are two types of premium paid features Yelp offers businesses:

  1. Business Page Upgrades
  2. Yelp Ads

I’m going to primarily cover Yelp advertising but the information here also applies to business page upgrades. I will cover what they both are, though.

Business Page Upgrades

Business Page Upgrades are premium features for your Yelp profile that make your Yelp profile page look better. Upgrades are divided into three sections:

  • Restrict Competitors’ Ads
  • Slideshow
  • Call to Action

A free Yelp profile shows competitors ads on the profile. If you advertise on Yelp then you will show up on your competitors Yelp profile (and a lot of other profiles).

If you pay to restrict competitor’s ads then your profile will be ad-free from your competitors and others.

The enhanced slideshow will let you organize photos however you like so it starts with a pre-determined (by you) photo then cycles through.

The Yelp Call to Action gives you the option to include a Call to Action on your Yelp profile. You can choose to send visitors who click your Call to Action to a coupon, order form, etc.

Yelp Ads

Similar to how advertising works on Google and Facebook, you pay a sum of money and your ad gets impressions on other companies profiles.

Yelp gives you historical metrics about how your campaign is doing too. Advertising metrics from Yelp are limited, though. The ad metrics show you the number of ad impressions, ad clicks, cost per click, and total ad spend but no details about the audience or where they viewed the ads from.

Yelp historical advertising metrics.

Yelp ads will show to Yelp visitors who are local to you and are looking at your competitors Yelp profiles.

Competitors are defined widely on Yelp. Anybody in the same category as your business is considered a competitor. For example, a home improvement company ad would be shown on competitors pages who really aren’t your competitor (ie. interior designer and landscape designer).

That means targeting for Yelp ads is limited and you are going to pay for a lot of impressions for those not interested in your business. It can cost upwards of $10 per lead which is quite expensive.

Yelp ad targeting is lacking compared to Google and Facebook. Click To Tweet

There some benefits to Yelp advertising, though.

How It Can Help You

Yelp advertising will reach a broad audience loosely targeted to your industry through ads shown on competitor pages and in search (there are some new helpful ways to manage search that I’ll get to). With an established Yelp profile, you’ll be able to reach more people looking for what you do.

Your goal as a business is to reach people looking for your service. Yelp’s entire existence is based on people visiting who are in need of a service. You know you’re reaching people who need work done.

They need work done and they’re looking for somebody to do it. Yelp advertising will make your company present on your competitors Yelp profiles which helps grow your exposure.

Yelp advertisings biggest benefit is that it will grow your exposure and allow you to reach customers you might otherwise never reach.

With that said, Yelp advertising won’t work to establish your Yelp profile if you’re new to Yelp.

Is Yelp Advertising Worth It?

If you’ve already set up your Yelp profile and have seen success with your free Yelp profile, you may also find success with Yelp Advertising. If you haven’t set up your Yelp profile, do that first, it’s always worth at least having the free profile.

People look at Yelp for reviews from your previous customers. Potential customers want to read about your past customer’s experiences. Even with advertising on Yelp, people are still looking for reviews and want to know the best company. That means if your profile isn’t established, you’re not likely to see any benefit.

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Most Yelp visitors are going to see through advertising, especially if your company Yelp profile doesn’t have at least one review.

Here are some simple rules that will help you decide on Yelp advertising:

Try It

If you have an established Yelp profile with a good review and are seeing visits and inquiries from Yelp users. Don’t invest a massive amount of money, take it slow and fine-tune your ad to make it more effective.

Yelp hands out free $300 in ad credits all the time to try out the service. You should absolutely take advantage of this offer to see how things work for you. Be sure you monitor your account daily though because it won’t tell you when your $300 are up. Yelp will gladly continue to charge you.

Also, if you’re going to try Yelp ads, make sure you’ve thoroughly read about the ad keyword management which helps you get your moneys worth more.

Don’t Try It

If you’re new to Yelp and their salespeople are calling you with 10 reasons you should advertise on Yelp. It’s not going to bridge the gap between a new profile and becoming established (what I thought). Even if someone clicks on your ad, they’ll see you have no reviews and aren’t established on Yelp. That won’t build trust with the typical Yelp user.

Don't try Yelp ads expecting it to boost your new Yelp profile. Click To Tweet

In either case, it’s not a good idea to sign a contract unless you have tried Yelp advertising on your own. Once you’ve tried it and seen some success then go ahead and sign a contract, they’ll make a great video for your company.

Or, you could just keep going with month-to-month ads and continue to monitor your ad keywords properly.

If you do try Yelp advertising, there are Yelp ads for a free $300 advertising credit all over the Internet. Visit and then browse the Internet, their retargeted ads will find you.

If Yelp will be worth it for your industry, you’ll see some successes with your free profile. If you see some success with your free profile, you may also see success with advertising.

Be sure you get your Yelp profile and of course have some reviews before you spend too much money on ads.

If you buy ads without reviews then you’re probably advertising someone else who does have more social proof.

There is more than just Yelp out there though. Be sure if you own a local business that you’re set up on all local business listing directories. That can be a challenge because there are so many but with a little directory management help from us, it won’t be such a burden on you.

One In Many

Yelp is a great place to build your presence online for your company because people are looking specifically for what you offer. It’s not a silver bullet, though, and it shouldn’t be your primary source of business.

Yelp is unpredictable but is still a great option in your arsenal of branding options for your company. One week you can get 3 leads and the next none.

Make sure you’re getting your company out there when possible on social media, Google Business, and beyond. If you’re paying for advertising on Yelp, make sure Yelp is one of several paid marketing platforms for your company.

If you’re relying on Yelp because you don’t have a website, there are ways you can use Yelp to grow your audience and support it in the long term. Creating an email list is a great way to grow your website and you don’t even need a website. Download the free eBook to help you grow your email list without a website.

If you have a website and Yelp is bringing visitors to your website, make sure you’re taking advantage of the traffic with an awesome website that’s conversion oriented. You’ll get a report customized for your business that will give you tips you can immediately take action on to improve your website and online brand.

Ready to become a master of Yelp?

Get more review, master Yelp, get more business. Profit!

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Author Bio:


Nick Leffler

Nick Leffler is the owner of Exprance, a Sacramento web design and digital marketing agency which helps businesses reach their customer online. Nick has grown his online presence with a small marketing budget by blogging, organic social media posting, and email marketing.


  1. Kishore Mathrani on October 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for your article.
    I was firm that I’ll not try the YELP (as it’s not a marketing tool for my industry) but in the end used those $300 promotional SSS , and ended up wasting $75 for enhanced profile.
    Yelp representative keeps calling me. In fact they called and tried to get my business today again.
    YELP is not for all businesses!

    • mm Nick Leffler on October 10, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      It’s definitely not for everyone. It does work for some (I’ve heard a few success stories) but for most it won’t work well. It’s good they give a $300 credit because that can help you determine if it’s worth it for you or not.

      Definitely the enhanced profile is something you have to watch out for. In most cases I wouldn’t recommend it. Of course as with most things that would require testing though. It may not have worked out for you but it may for someone else.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Chris Quoyesernpi on January 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    This was a big waste of money for me. I didn’t get a single call because of Yelp. Cultivating your own clients through sales calls and word of mouth advertising are the way to go for me.

    • mm Nick Leffler on January 18, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      Yes, you have to find what works for you. Thank you for sharing your experience. I would also say that while finding what works for you is a good idea, that also needs to be as diversified as possible. Don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket :)

  3. Dale Bliss on May 11, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Yelp is NOT worth it. Tried it for 6 months, obtained no new customers but a whole lot of costs from yelp.

    Would not recommend Yelp at all.

    • John Kim on July 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Hi Dale,
      Was this for a restaurant?


  4. Vic Levinson on February 21, 2017 at 7:19 am

    This was an expensive error that I wish I could tell every business owner I come into contact with about. If I could rate the experience on Yelp, I would give it zero stars. The ad budget that I gave- $450 PER MONTH did not result in ANY increase in business or increase in web traffic to my site. Additionally, $75 additional dollars for an enhanced listing did not improve any incremental traffic to our site. I am now over $1000 in expenses – WITH NO SALES ATTRIBUTABLE TO YELP. (This has been verified via my Google Analytics and Webmaster tools. The Yelp explanation on the sign up page should say “WE WILL BILL THIS AMOUNT MONTHLY NO MATTER WHAT” regarding the monthly budgeted amount- and if Google works differently in the CPC, then Yelp should have made it abundantly clear. If this was coming from a customer of mine regarding my business, this would have appeared on my business’s public review where any potential client could see it. Is there anywhere where I can review YELP! on YELP! so that other businesses could see my displeasure and maybe avoid a $1000 waste of money? Is there anywhere on YELP! where I could lambast Yelp and create pressure for a refund/resolution – the way that Yelp encourages other clients to do to their advertisers? When I called the advertising line to complain, I was told by the representative that I should have used the Managed Advertising Campaign- but that since there was nothing for him to help me with and he transferred me over to another department.The representative in that department, who was very nice and professional, told me that my only recourse is to provide feedback was to send an email. I am frustrated and angry with them. It would be interesting to look on Yelp for an attorney that does class action on contingency…

    • Nick on February 22, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Sorry to hear that Vic. I like to hear success stories but I’d rather hear the honest truth. I appreciate you leaving your experience. There’s few circumstances that Yelp would work great and it’s only for certain industries. That’s why I recommend getting the free $300 credit and trying it before committing to anything. I called several people advertising and it was about 50/50 whether they loved it weren’t too satisfied with the results.

      Hopefully some people will read your comment and then make a judgement best for them. Any way you look at it, committing to the year or even 6 months is probably not the best option. That usually goes for any advertising, though. Commitments to advertising is usually a bad idea.

  5. John O'Brien on January 25, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Worst advertising product ever. Wasted over $2000 and then cancelled early and they charged me an additional $700. Would not recommend them to anyone, anywhere!! Worst advertising decision of my life.

    • Nick on January 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Good to hear your experience. Did you sign up for the year contract? I’m wondering, did you have an established Yelp profile (at least 1 or 2 decent reviews) when you started advertising?.

      • Aldo on October 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm

        I had a budget of $ 300 for more than 5 years, they called me to raise the budget and I refused until they put a department in Spanish called customer success sales,they called me often and with lies convinced me to raise my budget to the maximum of $2000 for a month and after the end of the month the system would automatically switch to the budget of $ 300 but it was not like that; the month ended without any success, the took off $2700 through my bank account for that month and the second month I am fighting with them to get rid of that budget, now when I call them they do not speak spanish and my sales representative donot answer the phone, and they tell me someone is going to call me and they do not call me, only when I call they keep transfer me and they cover the person who made me sign the contract. Very bad decision take in raising the budget with yelp. Has no sense.

        Yo tenia un budget de $300 por mas de 3 anos ellos me llamaban para subir el budget yo me negava hasta que pusieron un departamento en espanol de ventas llamado cutomer succes, me llamo seguido y con mentiras me convincio para subir mi budget al maximo por un mes y despues de ahi me cabiaria automaticamente al budget de $300 pero no fue asi el mes se termino sin ningun exito page $2700 e primer mes y el segundo mes estoy peleando con ellos para que me quiten ese budget, ahora cuando les llamo no hablan espanol y me dicen que me va a llamar alguien y no me llaman, solo cuando llamo me transfieren y cubren a la persona que me hizo firmar el contrato. Muy mala decion tome en subir el budget con yelp. no tiene sentido.

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