Yelp Refines SMB Targeting Options


Yelp today rolled out a series of new features to help SMBs refine their presence and ads on the platform. This includes more precise location targeting, as well as AI-fueled ad budget management. The idea is to give SMBs more granular local presence management, and more options to control their exposure.

Range of Possibilities

Taking these new features one at a time, Yelp’s Custom Location Targeting (CLT) feature lets SMBs designate locations where their ads appear. Previously, SMBs could only advertise in a specific radius around their business. CLT expands that range of possibilities to other places that businesses may want to target.

This could open up geo-conquesting strategies or other behavioral targeting. For example, a local bar may want to geo-target its Yelp ad placements to individuals in and around a nearby college campus. Several other possibilities may stem from this new structure, and businesses can get creative with it.


Second on Yelp’s list of ad updates is budget recommendations. This includes a redesigned campaign creation workflow in which budget recommendations are offered. That happens through some machine-learning magic and is meant to lower barriers to campaign creation through automation and intelligence.

Going deeper, this all happens through a machine learning model that factors in SMB category, profile, historical campaign execution, and ad performance. Using that — plus lookalike audience data for the SMBs’ targeted customers — the model generates recommendations for effective budget levels.

Audience Interaction

Yelp also announced an update to Yelp Connect that will allow SMBs to reach larger audiences. For those unfamiliar, Yelp Connect is an SMB publishing tool that lets them connect directly to customers. Think of it like GMB Posts. Today’s update lets SMBs reach additional customers based on audience targeting.

Known as Connect Audience Model, it will accomplish this by letting businesses reach potential customers who have interacted with similar businesses, or searched for similar products. This compares with the previous Yelp Connect model that only let SMBs target consumers who have bookmarked or followed them.

Yelp specifies service-based businesses as being particularly primed for this new connection modality. In pilot stages, it achieved a 3x increase in Connect post engagement based on the new targeting structure. Yelp recently allowed customizable calls to action on Connect, resulting in 40 percent gains in engagement.

Kitchen Sink

In addition to the above rollouts, Yelp announced a few more, which we’ve summarized below and you can see the full list here.

Unified Setup Flow: Yelp has made it easier for businesses to set up Yelp pages and ads through a simplified flow that guides them on ways to make pages more impactful. That includes uploading photos, setting service areas, and creating Connect posts.

Guidance on ad text: Though ad text on Yelp is always customizable, not every SMB has ad copywriting experience. This new update simplifies the process with tailored example text to help them get started.

Streamlined experience: Last year, Yelp announced the new Yelp for Business web experience. Now it’s rolling out the refreshed UX in its mobile app. This includes an overview of ads performance and other features previously only available on desktop.

We’ll keep watching as Yelp continues to evolve its SMB-facing tools and workflows.

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