Yelp adds portfolios and highlights to its business profiles

Yelp is announcing two new ad products for business owners — portfolios and “business highlights.”

Those highlights are basically a way for businesses to point out their most distinctive and attractive characteristics, using short phrases like “vegetarian-friendly,” “locally-owned & operated” and “X years in operation.”

Director of Product Management Alon Shiran emphasized that this is an ad product, rather than editorial or user-generated content. Businesses can pay $2 per day to choose from more than 30 possible highlights — they can show two badges in their search results, and six on their profiles.

At the same time, he acknowledged that Yelp doesn’t want business to falsely advertise themselves, so users can point out in their reviews when a label seems inaccurate, or they can report those inaccuracies to Yelp.

Portfolios, meanwhile, are exactly what they sound like — a way for certain types of businesses (say a house painter or home remodeler) to highlight actual projects they’ve completed, accompanied by photos, descriptions and pricing. Like business highlights, they cost $2 per day.

Shiran said these new products are in the same vein as the verified licenses that Yelp announced in March, where businesses can get a blue check mark indicating that they’ve actually received a license in categories like medical care, childcare and home services.

In Shiran’s view, it’s all about helping businesses with “building a reputation” and “building credibility” with new customers. For example, Lemon Remodeling & Services in San Jose, Calif. said that after signing up for all three products, it saw a 200 percent increase in activity on its profile, which led in turn to an increase in customer leads.

Yelp says it will making all of these features available through a new Yelp for Business interface.