Yelp Elite – What is it and why should you work with it in 2023?

What is Yelp Elite? Should I join Yelp Elite?
  1. What is Yelp Elite Squad?
  2. The benefits of Yelp Elite
  3. How to collaborate with Yelp Elite Squad
  4. Yelp Elite Squad vs Google Guides
  5. Other means of working with influencers
  6. Conclusion

Yelp Elite may sound familiar if you are the owner of a neighborhood business, such as a restaurant, bar, retail store, or local service provider.

This special group of “experienced critics” gets more attention for their reviews from other users.

The reviews posted by the Yelp Elite Squad can potentially influence your business’s reputation, both positively and negatively.

Surprisingly, even negative reviews can make your business more reliable and dependable.

What is Yelp Elite Squad?

Yelp recognizes certain users as “Yelp Elite” for their exceptional contributions to the site.

To earn this title, individuals must meet specific criteria such as:

  • Having well written reviews.
  • Posting a substantial number of both positive and critical reviews.
  • Maintaining a detailed personal profile with plenty of high-quality photos.
  • Providing detailed personal information.
  • You are over the legal drinking age.
  • Demonstrating a history of responding positively to criticism.
  • You are also NOT a business owner yourself

Becoming a member of the Yelp Elite Squad requires more than simply writing negative reviews in exchange for free meals or being over the legal drinking age.

Typically, these individuals behind a Yelp profile are food bloggers, photographers, or digital nomads who extensively travel and sample the offerings at various locations.

What are the benefits of Yelp Elite?

There are some significant reasons you might want to work with the Yelp Elite Squad.

1.) Elite status is important

Getting the Yelp Elite badge is not an easy task. And it’s not just about free food or poor experience.

These individuals have to write around 40-50 really good reviews each year. Accordingly, build a large network of fellow reviewers, and engage with people on the platform.

What is more, they have to fulfill several other requirements to earn and maintain this status.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you can provide an excellent experience, it can give your business a lot of visibility and exposure.

2.) Become the local expert

Does your business specialize in something unique?

Yelp Elite members love to attend exclusive events where they can get something special that’s not available everywhere.

It gives them something interesting to talk about in their reviews. It’s like the difference between reviewing a regular hamburger shop and reviewing a vegan gastropub.

If your business offers something a little different or can create buzz around a specific product, it’s worth inviting a Yelp Elite member or a group to experience it firsthand and make a great impression.

How to collaborate with Yelp Elite members

You can use a couple of simple methods to be a part of the Yelp community and work with the Yelp Elite Squad.

#Organize Elite Yelp community events

real photo of Yelp Elite join Yelp community manager

Hosting elite events specifically for Yelp Elite can help you distinguish your business from competitors.

Yelp provides a convenient way to do this by allowing you to contact your local Yelp community manager, who will assist you in planning the Yelp Elite event if it aligns with their criteria.

Regardless of the nature of your business, if you have garnered positive reviews and offer a distinctive product or service, it’s worth reaching out.

There’s no harm in making an effort and giving your best shot to exclusive events.

#Engage in forums

Participating in local forums on Yelp can be an effective way to increase your visibility and gain an advantage over your competitors.

For instance, imagine you own a ramen restaurant in downtown Knoxville, and people are discussing in a forum, seeking recommendations for unique dining experiences in the city.

posts of locals reviews

By staying up-to-date and regularly checking these forums, you can join the conversation and inform people about your ramen restaurant.

Share its address and provide a brief background to generate interest.

Keep in mind that direct communication with Yelp Elite members may not be possible. Even if you don’t have elite reviews, engaging with regular Yelpers can still open doors for you and create opportunities to showcase your business.

#Direct messaging

At times, it may be necessary to take a more proactive approach and directly message individuals for Yelp reviews.

If there are specific Yelp Elite members in your local area whom you’d really like to visit your business, you can try this straightforward method.

First, filter your search based on location and the type of business you have.

Beaty spas of other locals

For instance, if you are the business owner of a day spa, it would be more appropriate to reach out to members of the Elite Squad who typically review spa or wellness-related establishments, rather than those focused on restaurants.

Next, filter the results further by reviewing their past reviews, where you’ll find an indication of their “elite” status.

Compile a list of individuals who have reviewed businesses similar to yours and proceed to send them individual messages, expressing your interest in having them visit your establishment.

#Success Stories of Businesses with Yelp Elite

Here’s a fantastic example of how local businesses can achieve remarkable success through the Yelp Elite program.

In this case, six different businesses in Indianapolis collaborated to provide an extraordinary experience for Yelp Elite members.

They organized a special event called “Friendsgiving,” where Elite Yelpers gathered for a delightful dinner, dessert, and drink tasting in the unique setting of the Tomlinson City Market Catacombs.

Tomlinson City Market Catacombs invited Yelp Elite members

The event created an unforgettable experience, and as you can see, the rave five-star reviews continue to pour in. This positive impact is likely to benefit their businesses for years to come.

In another instance, we witness how owning a restaurant, bar, or food brand is not a prerequisite to benefit from Yelp Elite.

In Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, Elite members enjoyed a guided tour of 1920’s architecture, received insights into the city’s history, and explored the mysteries behind their own city.

High quality photos of Playhouse Square where elites and friends enjoyed the organized elite event.

This experience resulted in numerous well-written reviews, positive encounters, and publicity for the city’s art district, all in exchange for the Elite members’ time and engagement.

Yelp Elite Squad vs. Google Guides compared

If you’re familiar with Yelp Elite, you’ve probably also heard about Google Guides.

Google Guides was introduced around 2015 as a platform where Google incentivizes people to regularly review local businesses. The aim is to encourage more quality reviews, enhancing the overall user experience on Google results.

Review through Google Guides

Local guides on Google receive a badge on their profile, social media features, and even an annual thank-you gift of undisclosed value.

One big difference between Google Guides and Yelp Elite is that on Google, anyone can receive the shiny badge by surpassing a certain number of reviews.

However, many of these individuals only write long reviews when they’ve had a negative experience. Unlike Yelp, their reviews are not manually assessed by an Elite council or community manager.

While the Google Guides program may be more “open” and less prestigious than Yelp Elite, it’s still important due to the visibility that the badge can bring.

Moreover, Google doesn’t seem to foster as much of a community among its guides compared to Yelp.

There are no dedicated features to create events or incentivize these reviewers to visit your business, apart from searching the internet to find their contact information, which can come across as unusual or awkward to the individuals involved.

Other ways to collaborate with influencers

In today’s digital landscape, influencers play a significant role in promoting businesses.

While Instagram and TikTok dominate the influencer scene, it’s important not to overlook the original influencers, the Yelp Elites.

As a business owner, it’s beneficial to engage with these individuals and leverage Yelp’s platform.

Although it may seem daunting to cater to “professional reviewers,” it can yield positive results for your business.

While not guaranteed, hosting a standout event or receiving favorable reviews from respected Elite members can significantly boost your visibility in Yelp search results.

If you’re seeking alternative methods to collaborate with influencers, here are some quick tips to consider:


Utilize Instagram’s direct messaging feature to reach out to local influencers.

Search for relevant hashtags within your community and connect with influencers who align with your niche and location.

Instagram account for reviews

Send personalized DMs offering a free product or service in exchange for their reviews.

The advantage of Instagram is that you’re not bound by Yelp’s community guidelines that prohibit exchanging goods and services for real reviews.

You might come across a new Elite member eager to write reviews, providing an excellent opportunity to increase your exposure.


On TikTok, you have the opportunity to become an influencer yourself. The platform is ripe for individuals looking to establish their presence.

Highlight the most interesting aspects of your business through engaging posts and stay updated with the latest trends.

post on TiktTok for reviews

Tap into local influencers by creating content that aligns with current TikTok trends.

Once you catch their attention, search for them on other platforms like Instagram to establish contact more easily.

Since they’re active on TikTok, chances are they also maintain a presence on Instagram, making it a convenient channel to connect with them.

By exploring these avenues, you can effectively collaborate with influencers and maximize your business’s exposure.


Sometimes, it’s important to prioritize the needs of our business over our pride.

Although we may have concerns or hesitations, it can be highly beneficial for brick-and-mortar businesses to connect with Yelp Elite members. These members were the original influencers and have the ability to bring great value to your business.

If you’re aiming to increase your visibility and gain popularity within your local community, partnering with Yelp Elite can be highly beneficial.

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