Am image of a mobile phone with the Yelp logo on the screen is used to illustrate the concept of "Yelp fast facts."

If you have never used Yelp to find a service provider, you probably know someone who has. Have you ever considered using Yelp to find massage customers? Here we will go over Yelp fast facts to help your business.

But first, what exactly is Yelp?

Yelp Fast Facts: What is Yelp?

Yelp is a crowd-sourced review site of local businesses. That means customers review businesses and give them ratings. Businesses can respond to the reviews. In addition to reviews, Yelp is a social networking site. Here’s how that works: Reviewers follow other reviewers and build communities. Sometimes there is an offline component to these communities where reviewers create events for businesses to showcase products. The potential marketing power of Yelp lies both in the reviews and the community of reviewers.

Yelp Fast Facts: Maximize Your Visibility on Yelp for Free

There is no downside to spending an hour of your time maximizing your visibility on Yelp. To get started, search for your business on If you don’t already have a Yelp business account, create one.

Once you have a business account, log in to your Yelp business page. On the left side of the page will be a list of actions. The optimization actions you can do for free are add Business Information and Photos.

Yelp Fast Facts: Add Business Information

Take your time filling out the business information because you want to make sure all the information you use for your Yelp account matches your Google Business Profile, and for that matter, any other platform your business is listed on. Why? Consistency with your business information across all platforms “improve(s) the ability of search engines to associate your business with relevant local search queries.”

Most important is your business address. First, look at your address on your Google Business Profile. Is it your correct address? If so, copy it exactly into your Yelp Business Information section. Do the same with your business hours, but again, first check to see if your business hours are correct on your Google Business Profile. If you have filled out your Google Business Profile a while go, your hours may have changed. A page that displays incorrect business hours is confusing and makes you look like you don’t care about your business.   

Yelp Fast Facts: Select Categories and Services

Like Google Business Profile, Yelp asks you to choose categories and services for your business. For categories, if you are a solo massage therapist or a massage business, make sure Health & Medical > Massage Therapy and Beauty & Spas > Massage are categories you select. Your business can be in up to three categories. Next select all the services that apply to you.

Yelp Fast Facts: Tell Your Story

After you finish with Categories and Services, it’s time to talk about you and your business. Under the heading From This Business, you’ll find three areas to fill out—Specialties, History and Meet the Business Owner.

This is decision making time for you. If you are a massage therapist who specializes in a modality, the Specialties section could be an opportunity for you to do a deep dive into your unique work. However, if you list a lot of specialties, you run the risk of looking like you are not actually an expert in one thing but rather a novice in many.

If you are struggling with what to say about your massage, open a new document in your writing app. List the things you do well as a massage therapist. Then from your list, pick the two or three things you do best. You are going to develop your  narrative around those two or three things.

For example, you may be really good at doing a relaxation massage and listening.

This could be your specialty description: “I provide deep relaxation massage by first understanding what makes a massage relaxing to you. For example, if scalp and footwork are relaxing to you, I will customize the massage to emphasize your feet and scalp.

Also, at the beginning of the massage, we will establish the pressure that is the most relaxing to you. And at anytime during the massage, you are welcome to provide feedback to ensure that the massage is an extraordinary relaxing experience.”

Yelp recommends keeping your tone conversational, but to avoid excessive punctuation, e.g., CAPS and exclamation points. Also, Yelp doesn’t want any contact information in your descriptions because they have other areas for that.

Yelp Fast Facts: Add Photos

For the free version of Yelp, you will only be able to add photos, not videos. But that’s okay because Yelp claims “48% of Yelp users are making buying decisions based on the photos they see.”

Pick photos that are welcoming and inviting, and show that you office is clean and safe. Also, as you think about which photos would engage potential clients, think about the services you offer. If you offer relaxation massage, a picture of your massage room with candles and dim side lighting could be effective.

Yelp recommends you use real photos, not stock ones and encourages you to have least 10 photos on your Yelp business page. By the way, there is no limit to how many photos you upload. The photos are presented as a slideshow across the header of your Yelp business page. You don’t control the order of the photos on the slideshow with the free version of Yelp. That is a paid feature.

Yelp encourages businesses to use captions with pictures. Yelp doesn’t give any stats as to why this is important, but we should assume it is, if they say it is. Create captions that are educational, conversational and engaging. Don’t over-think it. You are just trying to let potential clients know a little more about you and your massage.

Yelp Fast Facts: Paid Features on Yelp

As you have been filling out your Yelp business page, you probably noticed some paid features. Paid features are additional things you can do to your Yelp business page to improve engagement and connect with potential customers.

You can purchase each feature individually. For example, you can add your logo to your Yelp business page for a $1/day or add a Call to Action button for $2/day. At first, this may look like a good way to dip your toe in the water, but how do you decide which feature to pick?

Yelp Fast Facts: Bundle Deal

Ultimately, Yelp is guiding you to try the bundle deal for $6/day, which includes post promotions, no competitor’s ad on your Yelp business page, a Call-to-Action button, highlights of your strengths, your logo, choice of photos you want to feature and a portfolio walkthrough. Is it worth enhancing your Yelp presence for $6/day? Customer acquisition tracking can help answer that question.

If you don’t have a way to tell how you acquired a customer, it’s not hard to do. First, you will need to find out how a customer heard about you. This can be accomplished by simply asking on your client intake form—How did you hear about us (Google, Yelp, family, friend or referral)? Then you will need to record the answers in a spreadsheet.

Here’s the thing: If your spreadsheet says Yelp is a low referrer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Yelp won’t be a good referral source. It could mean that you haven’t worked the Yelp system enough yet. With the $6/day bundle deal, you have a 14 day free trial period to help you figure out the answer.

Yelp Fast Facts: Ads on Yelp

Last, you can put an ad on Yelp. With an ad, you can leverage Yelp’s expertise and data collection to optimize your ad. For example, you can have Yelp test to determine which of your photos people like best so that you can use that photo for your ad.

With an ad, you pay per click. So, if no one clicks on your ad during the course of a day, you pay nothing. You will set a daily budget rate for your ad. Yelp provides suggestions for a daily budget.

For me, they suggested $16/day on the low-end and $40/day on the high-end. That said, you can customize your daily budget rate, but the minimum daily budget rate is $5/day. You can pause, cancel or edit your ad at anytime.

Yelp Fast Facts: Are You a Business Yelper?

At the very least, providing the basic information on a Yelp business page is a no-brainer. And optimizing the business page for free by following Yelp’s tips, like adding photos and captions, is only an hour investment of your time.

But before you jump into paid enhancements and ads on Yelp, you may want to spend some time on Yelp as a user, reading and adding your own reviews to get a feel for the Yelp community. Also, check out other massage businesses in your area on Yelp. Do they have a lot of Yelp reviews? Are they running ads on Yelp?

Finally, take a moment to compare other platforms where you can pay to optimize your business listing and run ads, like Patch and NextDoor.

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, take it one step at a time. Ultimately, the more platforms you compare and the more familiar you are with Yelp, the easier it will be to decide if you want to plunk down marketing dollars on Yelp or simply stick with the free version.  

Mark Liskey

About the Author

Mark Liskey, LMT, CNMT, is a massage therapist, business owner, teacher and blogger. You can access his free, massage-business crash course on his business page.