Yelp is Giving $25 Million in Free Advertising, Making Major Changes During COVID-19 Outbreak

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Yelp, a near essential platform for independent operator restaurants, is giving away $25 million in free advertising for restaurants, bars, and other businesses heavily impacted by the closures of public spaces during the pandemic.

While this may not be of much help to restaurants and businesses struggling during the pandemic, once it subsides this free advertising could make a major impact in driving new sales and reviving a businesses cash flow.

The local business platform is also making a number of changes and adjustments during this time they say are designed to help small businesses stay open and make it through the pandemic.

Yelp has also said they have a zero tolerance policy for any reviews claiming a customer contracted COVID-19 at a place of business or was exposed to it. Stating:

We’ve also implemented special review content guidelines to protect local businesses from reputational harm related to these extraordinary circumstances. For example, we have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.

To further help small businesses impacted by this devastating health disaster, Yelp is making paid features of their platform available for free to business that remain open during the pandemic. Those features include; Business Highlights, Call to Action, Yelp Reservations, and Waitlist.

As with any program like this there are a lot of qualifications and restrictions. For example Yelp is giving a $100 ad credit free of charge with no strings to any restaurant that offers delivery or carryout. If you haven’t signaled that your restaurant offers this yet, then you’ll need to update your Yelp profile to qualify for the $100 in free advertising. Yelp will also pause ads for restaurants and bars during April and automatically restart them on May 1st.

This offer is also not open to large chains or franchisees. Yelp’s terms state this program is specifically for independently owned restaurants, bars, and nightlife clubs with fewer than five locations in the U.S. and Canada.

If you think you might be eligible for the free advertising or the free extra features, login to your Yelp Business account and you’ll see a banner notifying you of your eligibility.

If you’re not a bar or restaurant Yelp may offer you an ad credit as well, however, it won’t automatically apply like the others do.