More people than ever rely on websites, apps, and directories like Yelp when looking for local small businesses because they"re powered by user reviews, not paid listings and ads. Yelp started off years ago relying on small local retail shops and restaurants, but it"s become more popular in recent years among people looking for information and reviews of professional service providers.

If you're curious, just visit yelp.com and search for landscaper, plumber, handyman, or whatever industry you're a part of. Depending on your location, you'll likely see a lot of results. You might even see some of your local competitors on there. You want to make sure your business is listed there, too, so potential and existing customers can find and review your company and its services.

The good news is, signing up is relatively easy. We walk you through it in the steps below.

1. Sign up for Yelp

Yelp is a bit different than Facebook, Twitter, and other online services, while being a bit closer to Google My Business (which we cover here). You claim your business on Yelp, rather than creating a page or profile. It's set up this way because they wanted customers to be able to add businesses to the Yelp directory, without requiring any interaction from the business owner. That being said, you'll need a Yelp account to claim your business page, so head on over to Yelp's signup to create a new account.

2. Claim your business

There's a chance your business might already be listed on Yelp. It all depends on how popular your business is, how long you've been around, and what type of business you do. If you've been around for a while, there's a good chance some of your customers may have already reviewed your services. Head over to biz.yelp.com and search for your business name to see if anyone has added it yet. If you find it, you'll see a Claim This Business button next to it. Click it, and you're ready to go.

Yelp Claim Your Business Button

If you don't see your business in search, visit biz.yelp.com and you should see a link below the search box that says Not listed? Add it. Click it, and you'll be taken to a form you can fill out to request your business be listed.

Yelp List Your Business Link

Yelp List Your Business Form

3. Update your Yelp business profile

Once you claim a business, you can upload photos and manage the business info listed. Photos are a great way to show your work to customers. Listing your website is perfect for helping a potential customer find your website, where can offer much more detail about the work you do. If you don't have a website for your business yet, you should consider getting one (we offer a great zero-effort website that grows with your service business here at WorkWeek). Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, etc are all online profiles that should point customers back to your website.

4. Respond to reviews

Yelp is unique because business owners can respond directly to customer reviews. This gives you the opportunity to thank customers that give you positive reviews, and respond if a customer gives you a bad review.

Be sure to keep in mind that reviews are the most important feature of Yelp, and it's important that you respond to them, good or bad.

Be sure to thank customers for positive reviews, and treat negative reviews professionally, respectfully, and with an eye to improve the customer's experience by offering to correct any problems they mention. Negative reviews are somewhat of a necessary but important part of running your service business—and they provide a great opportunity to identify ways you can improve so future customers don't have negative experiences.

Keep it simple

Yelp is a pretty simple platform for your business to be on. It's not as complicated as Facebook, but it's growing and has some advantages for businesses. It's worthwhile to be listed on Yelp because it typically doesn't require much effort. If you check in every couple of weeks (depending on how busy you are and how frequently Yelp is used by your customers), the payoff can be free customers and traffic to your website. Pick a slow day or set aside a little time on the weekend to get your business listed.

To your success.