Businesses are under more scrutiny than ever, with an increasing amount of customers ready to post about their experiences online. In fact, as of 2021, 77% of consumers report checking out reviews when looking for a local business.
But, with so many options available, which website is the best in terms of posting and researching reviews? In this article, we’ll discuss how Yelp has set itself apart from its competitors and walk you through the proper steps to take when creating a crowd-sourced review platform of your own. Keep reading to learn more.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- Popular Features of Yelp
- 5 Steps to Design and Develop a Site Like Yelp
- How to Market Your Website
What Is Yelp?
Founded in 2004, Yelp provides a space for consumers to browse and create reviews for a variety of local businesses, ranging from auto repair shops to restaurants. Users can also use the platform’s filter feature to find specific results based on pricing, distance, and even certain cuisines.
Unlike other review sites, Yelp offers an option to view what your peers have said about the businesses they’ve visited. This might make all the difference if you trust your friend’s judgment more than the general consensus.
Popular Features of Yelp
Some of Yelp’s unique features have helped propel it to the top of the food chain when it comes to reviews. Here are just a few of the popular features Yelp uses to create a fantastic user experience.
Request a Quote
Yelp’s request a quote feature allows you to share details of your required service directly with businesses while navigating reviews for customer comparisons. You can also see what others thought of the business as a whole and look at whether the provided quote matches up to your expectations. This allows users to shop around for the best deal, and makes Yelp the perfect place to find the best deal.
For opted-in restaurants, Yelp enables users to make swift reservations at restaurants directly through its website. Booking has never been easier, as you can make bookings at a time of your choosing without having to call the restaurant itself. This creates a direct connection from viewing reviews to booking a table, eliminating any delay for interested customers.
The cash back scheme is simple: register a card with Yelp and receive 10% cash back at participating restaurants when paying with that same card. This is a fantastic way for restaurants to draw in returning customers, and also helps diners get an amazing reduction. By providing incentives for both restaurants and customers, the cashback strategy makes Yelp the place to be for finding great deals and service.
5 Steps to Design and Develop a Local Business Review Site Like Yelp
Now that you understand what makes Yelp so attractive to users, you can begin to look at which features you’d like to implement on your own review website and begin its development. By following these few basic steps, you can ensure that your website is poised for long-term success.
1. Determine Niche
The general review site may not be too difficult to create, but making it stand out will be. You’ll need to consider what makes your site different, why people should choose it over Yelp, and how it serves the users like no one else does. Because review sites are especially appealing for both businesses and customers, creating benefits for both will be the best way to efficiently engage users.
You should also consider making your app useful for businesses, allowing them to use your site as a powerful marketing tool. For example, you might create a business interface that lets them show special features like current deals and offers alongside customer reviews. Making your review site beneficial for businesses will likely make them more inclined to work with you for restaurant bookings and other features.
However, a review site with no reviews is not going to continue drawing in users for very long. It’s still far more important that your site becomes the primary place consumers choose to check for reviews. Creating features that benefit consumers, such as the ability to add pictures or maybe even to create reviewer profiles, will keep people reviewing with you.
2. Choose a Business Model
Next you need to decide your business model, how it operates, and brings in revenue. You can consider additional monetization methods at a later date, but having a primary stream of cash is important to support your business’ running costs. You can consider monetizing users or businesses with a tailored service, but there’s no saying you can’t generate revenue from both.
You might also think about charging businesses for analytical tools on your site. This would mean they could see the general actions users take when viewing their business page. Provided you can give them the tools, they could access data like how often users decide to make a booking after viewing or how many people leave their page without booking after seeing reviews.
3. Conceptualize Functionality
The next step is to plan what the main functionality of your site is, who it serves, and how you plan to serve them. Obviously, the primary feature is the ability to leave reviews, but how you apply functions to your designated niche is still up for consideration.
You need to look at how businesses are added, what options are available to users when they leave reviews, and if there are any actions users can make from these reviews. It might be that businesses are added by the user or that the business itself can create their page and customize its information. You may also decide that users can share and promote reviews within their area.
4. Design Your Website
Next, you’ll want to design your website, and you’ll need to make a few important considerations as you do. Realistically, you’ll want a consistent stream of reviews for other users to see, and your site’s content is user-driven. A simple User Interface (UI) can help with this by allowing people of any digital capability to leave or view reviews, ultimately providing more content for your site, as well as reliability.
It’s undeniable that User Experience (UX) is intimately linked with your User Interface (UI). If you want users to enjoy accessing your website, it shouldn’t be too difficult to use. You might consider following common layouts your users will be used to, such as a search bar along the top of the page, for more concise information. Keep it simple, and make sure users can access their desired feature with only a few clicks.
You can also consider color schemes and branding to make customer association easier to identify. For example, each restaurant’s page could reflect their main branding color like yellow for McDonald’s and red for KFC.
5. Develop Your Website
Finally, you can begin to develop your site for publishing. If you have prior experience in web development, you can start immediately; however, if you’ve never created a site before, you’ll need to look at outsourcing the development to agencies. Handing the reins over to an experienced development company can make the creation of your app easier than ever, but there are a lot of details you should consider when choosing an agency.
One of your priorities should be researching their portfolio. Any web development company should have a portfolio available to view, and you can judge a developer’s experience by the quantity and quality of their products. Look for potentially similar products as well as the actual sites to determine the complexity of prior products and ability of your chosen developer.
You’ll also want to look at the developer’s post-release support availability. Any site will require ongoing maintenance to function, and finding a developer that can offer this effectively is extremely important for your site’s sustainability and longevity. Look at previous projects in their portfolio and ensure the sites still function well, and see if you can find any reviews that detail how regularly available this service was delivered.
How to Build a Site Like Yelp Without Breaking the Bank
Creating and implementing your essential functions will allow you to look at running your site as soon as possible as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Having a published MVP means you can start gaining traction and content from your users much earlier, as you update your site with additional features. Provided you’ve monetized your site by this point, you can also start gaining revenue to help with further development costs.
How to Market Your Website
Getting your site noticed will be something you should focus on as soon as it’s been released. Once your site is live and getting reviews, there are a few ways you can successfully get your site in the public eye.
Search Engine Optimization
One method of ensuring your site appears commonly in searches is using Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is where you carefully select keywords in your meta-description and across your site that relate to what potential users search for. You might also consider having descriptive URLs as opposed to randomly generated numbers.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads can be an effective way to entice people to your site. This is where you use an ad provider, such as Google, to promote your site when search results allow for it. The beauty of PPC ads is that you only pay when a user follows through on your ad to learn more by clicking it.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is also a fantastic way to advertise, as you use PPC ads or organic media to promote your site. Organic social media is where you create free posts on a page like any other account, the downside being it takes more work and can be less effective than PPC. Alternatively, many social media sites allow you to pay to boost your original organic material to reach larger audiences and drive enthusiasm.
How to Monetize Your Yelp-Like Website
We’ve already discussed that you’ll need a primary stream of income, but there’s no saying you can’t add in extra methods of monetization to drive growth. Here are just a few additional ways you can monetize your site.
Business Listing Fee
Provided your site serves businesses well by offering beneficial features tailored to their needs, you could always add a business listing fee. Whether you decide to make this a subscription service or a one-off payment, charging businesses to access certain features on your site could be a fantastic way to gain recurring or lump sums of capital.
Much like organic social media, you could allow businesses the opportunity to boost their page above others for a fee. Businesses will always need more exposure, and giving them the opportunity to pay for the hot spot on your site will give you another opportunity to draw in regular income.
You could also create subscription services for your consumer users, allowing access to additional features for those interested. Known as the SaaS (Software-As-A-Service) business model, this option offers users access to more premium features for a price. The subscription model is becoming a common practice even in mainstream mediums, such as TV, gaming, and dating services, and is a great way to generate consistent cash flow.
Website Design and Development by Idea Maker
Designing and developing an exceptional website requires a great deal of experience, and you want to know your site is in safe hands. Idea Maker has the knowledge and expertise to help you create your ideal review website. With a consistent portfolio of high quality apps and websites, Idea maker has all the tools you could need. So schedule a call with us to see how we can support you on your path to creating a local business review site like Yelp.