Yelp Negative Keyword Targeting – Don’t Burn Your Budget

If you’re a lawyer who’s running a Yelp advertising campaign, you need to stop what you’re doing and read this article. There’s a new option that allows “negative keyword targeting” – the ability to choose what words you don’t want to spend money on. You may think that doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. Why is this critical for Yelp advertisers? Well read on to see how this will change your entire execution of Yelp ads.

What is Negative Keyword Targeting?

Negative keyword targeting was born from pay-per-click advertising (PPC), or the ability to pay for search phrases you’d want to appear for in a search. In most PPC platforms, like Google, Bing and Yelp you’re usually paying to be found for specific searches and related searches (synonyms and phrase variations). The problem is that sometimes those related searches aren’t really what you do, or for one reason or another you don’t want to spend advertising dollars pursuing that traffic. For example in California, most personal injury lawyers don’t want to pursue medical malpractice cases due to MICRA, case complexity, litigation costs etc. Unfortunately most PPC platforms recognize “medical malpractice lawyer” as a related search to “personal injury lawyer” and you’d be grouped in by default. The same goes for estate planning lawyers who don’t do probate, business litigation firms that don’t do simple incorporations… you get the picture.

You Can Now Choose What Words You Don’t Want to Spend Money On in Yelp

Part of a lot of lawyer’s gripes about Yelp advertising is that they spend money to be found, but they’re also visible for phrases that have nothing to do with their practice. This leads to “budget burn” on non-productive advertising. Additionally, they have to incur the overhead cost of administering incoming leads that they can’t work with, and often the added hassle of sending out non-engagement letters to potential clients they’ve turned down.

Take a look at the screenshot below of the default search phrases that Everest Legal Marketing recently customized for a personal injury client’s Yelp ad. Just by being in the “Personal Injury Law” category, you’d also be potentially running an ad for the following searches by default:

  • Bankruptcy attorney
  • Business law
  • Criminal defense lawyer
  • Wrongful termination lawyer
  • Workers’ Compensation lawyer
  • Traffic lawyer
  • Small claims lawyer
  • Real estate attorney
  • Medical malpractice lawyer
  • Mediators
  • Landlord tenant lawyer
  • Living trust attorney
  • Immigration lawyer
  • Family law attorney
  • Eviction lawyer
  • Estate planning lawyer
  • Employment lawyer
  • DUI lawyer
  • Disability lawyer
  • Divorce attorney
  • Civil attorney
  • Car accident lawyer
  • Law firms
  • Lawyers

Yelp negative keywords

In my opinion there’s only a few of those “related phrases” that the average personal injury law firm would want to pay to be found for. Having a background in Yellow Pages and legal directories, I can’t help but think to myself that it’s a wonder how those originally got grouped together in the first place. Most likely it’s because Yelp was not set up as a legal directory which would have had significantly different practice categories… I mean if you’re hungry for a sandwich you might want a burger – It makes sense for restaurants and entertainment.

What to do Now

Log in to your Yelp business account:

  • Click Yelp Ads in Yelp for Business
  • Click Customize Ad
  • Click on the X next to each keyword you would like to block your ad from appearing for or enter a keyword to block
  • Click Save changes

*This particular functionality is currently only available on the Yelp website, not through the app.

About The Author

Doug Bradley
I work with law firms to increase their presence on search engines through website optimization. Marketing a law firm hasn’t been “like it used to be” for a while now and the only guarantee is that it will continue to change. Learn more about my experience here.
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