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A couple of months ago I had a lawyer ask me if it was worth advertizing his firm on Yelp. I gave him the typical politician’s response: “it depends…”.

I mentioned that we had not reviewed enough cases of firms advertizing on Yelp and tracked and analyzed their results in a way that allows us to come to a sound scientific conclusion and give a clear response.

With that being said, I also told him that the feedback we have read & heard from other law firms, the results they got seemed disappointing.

First, what exactly do we mean by “advertizing” on Yelp ?

We’re not talking about having a free business listing on Yelp, which you should of course have given it’s the second most important Review site in North America (after Facebook – Yelp used to be #1 only a year ago).

Yelp Advertizing in other business profile

Ads in competing businesses profile page

We’re talking about paid advertizing on Yelp: you can pay Yelp to have your Ad displayed in Yelp search results and on competitor’s Yelp business pages. Unfortunately you don’t have control over listing placement.

It’s a “pay-per-click” advertizing model, meaning you pay Yelp each time somebody clicks on your ad. For the U.S. based law firms that were part of a case study* the average cost per click was 10US$ – US$12.50.

Why would a law firm consider Yelp in the first place ?

  • one of the most popular websites in America with about 5.5 million daily visitors
  • comes up prominently in many search results on Google
  • the Yelp mobile App has been downloaded more than 10 million times
  • Apple maps actually pulls Yelp data on mobile devices for Reviews
  • Yahoo has partnered with Yelp for their Local Search

Do Yelp ads work for Law Firms ?

* Referencing one article by Casey Meraz in April 2015, here is a summary of the findings: out of the 3 firms that were “surveyed”, all of them reported that the issue was with the quality of the leads generated through Yelp paid ads, resulting in no signed clients.

As Christian Denmon, one lawyer part of the case study, states:

We advertised on Yelp! for a short period of time hoping to generate leads for our firm before pulling out. The traffic quality was not great and we were able to get more qualified leads from Google and Bing/Yahoo! PPC efforts on the paid side. When people are searching for a lawyer, they are more likely to do an organic search on Google as opposed to going to Yelp! 

Conclusion – so should you disregard Yelp altogether ?

While the case studies clearly pointed to Yelp Paid Ads not being cost effective to generate new signed cases, Yelp can still help your firm generate new clients and should still be part of your marketing strategy – just not through the paid ads. Here is what parts of Yelp can be made to work for you:

  • First, optimize your free Yelp listing for Local SEO performance – make sure Name, Address and Phone (NAP) is correct and there are no duplicates.
  • Second, get a constant flow of client reviews on your Yelp listing – it’s huge to boost conversions into leads and clients as potential clients are going to research your name
  • Third is “barnacle” SEO. Yelp listings do show up in Google’s and Yahoo! search results, so you can get your listing rank for lawyer based organic keywords, and with an optimized profile you could possibly get some conversions that way.

So don’t throw the baby with the bath: forget Yelp Paid advertizing, but leverage Yelp’s other features to increase exposure and conversions

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