If you run a restaurant, you’ve probably put a lot of time and effort into building up a social media following, growing your website, and trying to rank well in the search engines – but have you paid attention to things like review sites?

Depending on where you are in the world, you may already have put a lot of thought into your Yelp profile. In some cities, Yelp is huge, and people do use it a lot to pick out places to go. In other cities, Yelp is not used quite as frequently, and restaurant owners can be tempted to overlook it, thinking that it is better to focus on other avenues. It’s a mistake.

Yelp is a very valuable site for SEO. If you have any reviews on Yelp, then the incoming links from Yelp to your restaurant’s website will be useful. Also, if those reviews are positive and you get traffic from them, then you will benefit from that. Because those sites are driving relevant traffic, this will be noticed by the search engines, and that will help you to get a higher ranking in the results for your local city.

It’s something that a lot of people don’t realize. You can no longer afford to overlook the issue of local search. Mobile phone users are a huge market and one that has strong intent when they search for things like restaurants. Usually, they have an immediate plan to eat out, and they will go to the first place they find that looks like it suits their tastes.

When you have good reviews on Yelp, this will get noticed by the search engines. They do look at places that get lots of mentions on Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other similar review sites. The traffic that a site gets is noticed to an extent too – if you have a very high bounce rate, then this will be reflected in your rankings.

Yelp listings you will notice that they have reviews as well as their profile is fully completed. Make sure that you complete as much information as possible, and that you do everything in your power to make sure that your profile looks good. Fill out your opening hours, your contact details and your profile. Add photos and menu information, and engage with people who take the time to complete your review.

Yelp has become over the past years a huge website, especially for the younger generation. It is one of the most trusted websites when it comes to reviews and listing of businesses.

It’s not easy to impress people these days. A couple of decades ago, simply having a presence on the web was enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Then it became “they’re in Google so they must be good.” Now, it is known that just having a profile isn’t enough and that everyone can ‘get online’ so you need to do more than that to impress your prospective customers.

Tripadvisor is a good starting point. Note that it is severely frowned upon to incentivise positive reviews. It is OK to ask people to leave an honest review – but you cannot push people to be positive, or punish those who are negative. If your food and service is good, though, then the reviews will highlight that regardless.

Today, there are so many signals that go into website rankings. The search engines don’t just look at what your site is about and the number of links, they watch the quality of the content, the amount of sites linking to you, which pages they link to, the context. The other types of sites which are related to in addition to yours, whether your site contains factually correct information, loading times, mobile friendliness, bounce rate, the geographic location of the server and so much more.

That’s why it’s so important that you aren’t purely relying on external links from blogs and social media. Yelp, as an app, is useful. Google even indexes in-app links to a certain extent. Yelp, as a website, can help with your rankings too. Even if it isn’t enough to catapult you to number one in the search results, you will still benefit from the fact that you have links on Yelp – after all, people use Yelp as a micro-search engine that links specifically to venues.

So, if you want to achieve the next level in the search results, spare a thought for those review sites. They are a good option for you to invest time into. They won’t put you in the number one spot immediately, but if you build your profile on them, it will improve your ranking signals. When you combine that with other efforts such as press releases and blogger outreach, collectively they are a big thing and they will have an impact on where you stand, and how the search engines view you.