Yelp Ads for Dental Practices

Try Other Marketing Channels First for Your Dental Practice

You’re probably aware that Yelp has a less than stellar reputation among small businesses.  They even made a movie “Billion Dollar Bully” about Yelp’s allegedly sketchy business practices.

Despite all of that, I have to believe that there are at least some dental practices that are having success advertising on Yelp. While I'm unaware of any on a personal basis, there are enough dentists advertising on Yelp that at least some of them must be having at least a little bit of success.

Do Your Due Diligence Before Running Dental Ads on Yelp

Before I take a deep dive into Yelp ads, let me provide some friendly advice.  If you’re thinking about advertising your dental practice on Yelp, want to provide you with these recommendations first:

When you're talking to them, be sure to try to get real numbers. If when asked about results they say, "I think it's working" or "I guess so", that doesn't mean anything.

Be aware that Yelp's internal reporting metrics count a lot of things as "leads" that don't turn into real-life patients. For example, "map views" shouldn't count as a patient. Even what Yelp counts as calls won't directly translate into actual visits to your dental office. There are a lot of robocalls and repeat callers that you'll need to account for.

Don't sign up for Yelp without doing your research first. Call dentists from other markets outside your area who are currently advertising on Yelp and ask them to share their experiences.

Case Study from Joy Hawkins at Search Engine Land discussing whether Yelp Ads are worth paying for.

Yelp Pricing - Hard to Figure Out

Yelp used to lock its advertisers into long term contracts - which is always a warning sign when it comes to advertising. Paid search advertising should always yield quick results (especially compared SEO services which takes months to see results).

Fortunately for advertisers, in late 2018 Yelp changed its model to no term contracts.

Yelp doesn’t really publish their pricing, so you’ll have to contact a Yelp sales rep to figure out how much Yelp ads would cost.

Note: Yelp’s advertising team is rumored to be highly aggressive. My personal (although limited) interaction with their sales team confirms this.  If you contact with Yelp, there’s a good chance you’re going to receive a lot of sales calls.  You'll find many places on the Internet where people complain about interaction with Yelp sales staff. Here's one example.  

Fair or not, Yelp's sales team as earned a reputation as being highly aggressive.

Yelp Ad Types: Targeted Ads for Dental Practices

Yelp Ads consists of two major components: Targeted Ads and Upgraded Profile. We’re going to start off by Looking at Targeted Ads.

Targeted ads for your dental practice can appear in a couple of places on the Yelp.

1) Your Ads on Search Results Pages

The first place targeted ads can appear is in the Yelp search results. Here, we have conducted a search on Yelp for Lone Tree Dentists.

As you can see, results at the top of the page are ads.   You can see it says “sponsored” next to these results.  

Yelp Search Ads
Yelp search ads appear when using the Yelp search function. Ads appear above the regular listings.

Yelp's search function works like Bing or Google search - albeit with a lot less searches, and it only searches through pages on Yelp.

Ads appear on top and free listings appear below the ads.

If a Searcher Clicks on your Yelp Ad....

When a Yelp user clicks on your ad, they are taken to your Yelp page - not your main website.  This is not good. You can better craft your message and try to convert a prospect to a patient on your main website (versus your Yelp page).

The results below the advertisements are like the organic results in Google and Bing. These aren’t paid search results. You need to have a Yelp page established, but you don’t need to advertise for your dental office to be listed in these results.

Both ads and the regular search results are very similar. They contain your listing photo, review summary, services provided, address, phone number, and a sample review.

So, that’s the first place an ad for your dental practice can appear – is within the Yelp search results.

2) Your Ads on Competing Dental Office Pages

The other location your ad can appear is on the Yelp page of competing dentists.

One of the first pieces of information that visitors to your Yelp page will see is advertising for dentists that are competing with you in your town.

While it is Yelp's platform and they can do what they want, the fact that Yelp features ads for your competitors right on your page just seems wrong.

Yelp dentist page with ads for competing dentists near the top of the page
Competitors Advertising on Your Yelp Page
If you've claimed your dental office page on Yelp, you'll likely notice that there are ads for your competitors near the top of your page

Competing ads on your dental office page is bound to annoy you. Which is why Yelp offers to remove them for you if you pay extra for an "Enhanced" profile.

Yelp Ad Types: Upgraded Profiles for Dental Offices

Besides targeted ads, the other big feature of Yelp Ads is an upgraded profile. There are two types of upgraded profiles.

A Branded Profile allows you to show a photo slideshow and a video as part of your listing. You can even have buttons on your listing that allow visitors to set up appointments or learn more about your special promotions.

An Enhanced Profile contains everything that is in your branded profile plus it removes all competitor ads from your dental office listing.

Let’s now look at branded and enhanced profiles.

Branded Profile

Yelp branded profile for a dentist showing a call to action button and slideshow
Branded Profile in for a Dental Practice in Yelp

A Branded Profile allows use of a few bells and whistles including slideshows, photos and a Call to Action button.

Enhanced Profile

You'll notice I'm using the same exact photo as I did for the branded profile. This Miami dentist’s profile is also Enhanced.  We can tell because there are no competing dental ads on their Yelp page.

Yelp enhanced profile screenshot showing no competing dental ads on dental office yelp page
Enhanced Profile
Exact same as a branded profile - except you pay Yelp to remove competitor ads.

An Enhanced profile gets rid of the competition on your Yelp page.

Both profiles contain practice reviews, directions, photos of dentists and staff, and link to dental websites.

So, the only real difference between a Branded Profile and an enhanced profile is that you pay Yelp extra to remove marketing messages from competing dental offices from your page.

It is almost like the property owner for your dental office put up marketing billboards for a competing dental practice on the walkway to your front door - and would only remove the marketing if you paid him to remove them.

Major Issue: Yelp Doesn't Send Ad Traffic to Dental Websites

As you can tell, I'm very skeptical about the potential for success when using Yelp Ads to get more dental patients. But perhaps the biggest issue I have with Yelp Ads traffic is that Yelp sends your ad traffic to your Yelp page.  

It is better to have this ad traffic go to a page on your website and NOT your Yelp page - for two main reasons:

In most cases, I would highly advise against sending paid traffic to pages you don't fully control. You don't control your Yelp page.

Paying money to send prospects to a page that you have little control over is risky. Your page could contain links and ads for your competitors, poor reviews, and basically anything else Yelp wants to show, because it is their website.

Yelp for Dentists Summary

I'm not a big fan of how Yelp puts ads and listings for the competition on your Practice's Yelp page. I also don't like the relative lack of control that you have over your own Yelp page.

I also don't think that Yelp would be very effective for most dentists - but your mileage may vary. Ask other dentists about their experience with Yelp before getting in touch with their sales team.

Only after your dental practice has mastered Google, Bing and Facebook Ads would I consider trying Yelp ads.

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