Pros and Cons of Yelp Advertising


Should Your Business Advertise On Yelp? 

Should your business be advertising on Yelp? Many ad dollars go to Google and Meta, while Yelp gets overlooked. You don’t have to be a foodie to advertise on Yelp. 

  • Yelp is the third largest local search engine behind Google and Apple Maps. ‘
  • Yelp became famous for foodie reviews but has grown immensely, receiving over 80 million monthly visitors, and has more than 561K advertisers (source).
  • Yelp is great for local businesses and has massive exposure on the first page of Google. 

There’s also a lot of negative sentiment about Yelp amongst business owners and marketers. You can read threads on Quora, such as “Is Yelp Evil.” There’s also a Reddit thread about “Have other business owners felt scammed by Yelp?” The negative sentiment keeps many advertisers away from Yelp. 

While going through the pros and cons of Yelp, I will highlight our client, Rayna Girson Hair. She is a hairstylist and advertises on Yelp and Google. I will showcase the pros and cons based on her experience with Yelp.

Pros of Advertising on Yelp

High Exposure on Google 

Many people stumble upon a Yelp business category by conducting a Google Search.

For example, if you search for “Columbus Balayage,” you will notice that Yelp is ranked number one organically. 

Yelp ranking high in the organic search results.

Nailing Top Positioning on Yelp 

The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 27.6% [source]. You will get a lot of exposure when the Yelp business category appears towards the top of Google’s search results. Yelp advertising will help your business be a top result once it lands on the Yelp page. 

Related Blog: 30 Local SEO Stats You Need to Read

Rayna’s Advertising on Yelp Paying Dividends 

Rayna Girson Hair is the first result on Yelp because of her paid advertisement. The sponsored results appear ahead of Yelp’s organic listings. Most people don’t notice the difference between paid and organic on Yelp, resulting in the top sponsored ads getting the most clicks.

Below, you can see Rayna is getting more clicks and leads via her paid listing versus organic on Yelp.

Related Blog: SEO and PPC Strategy for Hair Salons, via our Client, Rayna Girson Hair

What a sponsored advertisement on Yelp looks like

Easy to Set-Up

Yelp Ads are very easy to set up. You can do so by following the steps below, which will take less than 10 minutes. One of my favorite things about Yelp Ads is the simplicity in setting-up effective advertisements. 

Did You Know: At The Media Captain, we’re paid advertising experts, managing millions in ad spend for our clients.

Choose Your Ad Photo

You can let Yelp optimize your photos, which they recommend, or you can select from your gallery. For Rayna, we manually selected a photo we liked, as Yelp constantly showed photos she wasn’t in love with.

Different ad photo options within Yelp Ads

Choose Your Ad Text

There are a couple of options for ad text on Yelp. You can let Yelp choose the best text. You can select a review to highlight. Lastly, you can write your own text.

For Rayna, she selected her own text, but all of the options were viable. 

There are three options to choose from for ad text on Yelp Ads

Your Ad Keywords

The keywords are very important. Yelp often recommends non-relevant keywords for your business as they want you to spend more money.

For Rayna, she has a very narrow focus. She performs balayage, gray blending, and highlights. She doesn’t do men’s hair, blowouts, or braids. You can see we were strategic in only selecting keywords that resulted in high-revenue clients for Rayna while blocking keywords that were not relevant.

I recommend only focusing on keywords that are relevant to your business. 

Selecting ad keywords on Yelp and adding in negatives.

Ad Goal

You can create Yelp Advertising Goals for phone calls, website clicks or let Yelp optimize it for both.

For Rayna, she’s a solo entrepreneur. She doesn’t have a secretary answering her phones while performing her work. Because of this, we targeted website clicks vs. phone calls.

Be strategic in picking the best ad goal for your business. 

Select between calls, website traffic or Yelp can optimize for goals based on what they deem to be best.


You must advertise for at least $5/day on Yelp ($5 per day x 30 days per month = $150/month). This doesn’t include the cost of upgrading your page, which I’ll hit on within the con section (cost = $120/month for an upgraded page). If you want to advertise on Yelp effectively, you need a minimum budget of $270/month.


Be strategic in your targeting. For Rayna, we target a 15-mile radius around her location. Women are willing to travel for her services, such as balayage and gray blending. 

If you are a taco shop advertising on Yelp, you’d likely want a more refined targeting area around your location. 

The targeting options on Yelp allow you to advertise around a specific radius around your business lcoation.

Relatively Cheap 

The average cost per click on Yelp for Rayna’s salon is $2.09. The CPC on Yelp is relatively low and tends to be lower than Google Ads. If you are in an industry with high competition, Yelp can be a cheaper solution. 

Related Blog: Google vs. Meta Ads, what’s best for advertisers?

The average cost per click on Yelp is relatively cheap compared to advertisers like Google

Constant Promotions 

There always seems to be a $300 promotion to join Yelp Ads. This can get you a month or two of paid advertisements covered. It’s worth testing to see if this yields new leads for your business. 

Cons of Advertising on Yelp


Yelp doesn’t have the best reputation, especially among business owners. They often hide positive reviews and bring the negative ones to the forefront, prompting businesses to advertise. 

The FTC has revealed that they have received over 2000 complaints about Yelp’s practices, including allegations that Yelp buries positive reviews and displays negative ones as a selling tool, forcing more businesses to pay for ads.

When there is such a bad reputation amongst business owners towards Yelp, it’s hard to get behind the advertising platform.


You can’t effectively advertise on Yelp without upgrading your page. Otherwise, your logo won’t populate, you can’t have a photo slideshow, competitor ads can appear on your own page, and much more. I’m not a fan of the upgraded page needed for optimal advertisements. 

Customer Service 

When Rayna went on maternity leave, we paused her advertisements. The issue is that we were still paying for the page upgrade despite paused ads. This wasn’t clear to us at first. When we tried contacting Yelp support, they didn’t help initiate any refund. This was disappointing and showed a lack of empathy from Yelp. 

Tough to Gauge the data 

A website visit, in my opinion, is not an actual conversion. It’s hard to gauge how many true leads came from Yelp, considering they go to your website and then contact you directly from Yelp.

The same holds for phone calls. Since your business gets so many calls, it’s hard to gauge what calls turned into actual leads. The reporting is much more robust within a platform like Google Ads. 

Related Blog: How much should you spend on paid advertising?

In Closing

  • Yelp has been a viable advertising platform for Rayna Girson Hair. 
  • Rayna has generated leads from Yelp and reaps the benefit of people organically searching for her services and then finding her Yelp ads. 
  • Before advertising on Yelp, conduct Google Searches to see if your business service on Yelp appears on the first page of Google.
    • For example, for the query “Marketing Agency Columbus,” Yelp doesn’t appear on Google’s first page. Because of this, I won’t advertise as I don’t feel people go directly to Yelp for these searches. 
  • The setup of Yelp advertisements is relatively easy. I highlighted pointers that will help your ads improve performance-wise. 
  • While there are many pros to Yelp, there are also cons, such as customer service, add-ons, and mediocre tracking. 
  • Despite Yelp’s not-so-stellar reputation amongst business owners, I would advise most businesses to advertise on this platform if the business category has page one Google exposure.

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