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Using Yelp to Highlight and Elevate Local Restaurants

I’ve been Yelping off and on for about 10 years, but in the past year or so I’ve made it a priority to photograph and post great photos of our local restaurants. To me, it’s really important to elevate our hometown businesses whether they are clients of mine or not. My photography is the small way in which I can help.

If you have ever used Yelp, you know that quite often the photos that people post are pretty awful. I’ve seen wonderful restaurants with dark, blurry, and often irrelevant photos splashed across their header. The thing about Yelp is that restaurants don’t get to choose which photos get featured across the top (unless they have a paid package). There is some algorithm that looks for certain things, and some photos sort of bubble their way up to the top and become the featured photo (thumbnail). The top 5 or 6 photos appear as a header on a PC.

I believe that potential customers are genuinely influenced by the quality of photos associated with a business. The more beautiful the photos, the more delicious the food looks, and it creates a mental association of quality. When people search Yelp for restaurant suggestions, they are immediately influenced by the photos associated with a business.

My goal: to have my photos appear as the Featured photo for as many restaurants as I can. This is the main thumbnail that gets shown throughout Yelp. As an added challenge, I also like to get all the photos across the header to be mine.

In the below, all of the featured photo thumbnails were taken by me.

Yelp page showing all of my featured photos | Photos by Erika Follansbee

Improving the Yelp Photos of Goffstown Businesses

First, let’s start with Goffstown. When I first started taking on this project, our small restaurants in Goffstown had absolutely abysmal photos. It looked depressing. Wonderful restaurants like Putnam’s and Charlie’s, etc. had really unappealing photos across their Yelp pages. Again, businesses can’t control which photos get featured, it’s just that Yelpers often post low quality cell phone images. By doing a quick little photo shoot at each one (either with my food in the restaurant, or at home with my takeout order), I have been able to showcase our wonderful Goffstown restaurants and the great work they do.

Here is an example for the newly opened Weeks Pizza in Goffstown Village. This one was easy because it was a brand new listing and I was the first to post photos. Look how beautiful!

Weeks Pizza on Yelp | Goffstown NH Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Here we have The Bagg Lunch, looking very delicious on Yelp with a Fisherman’s platter (gotta love that Seafood Friday), chowder and quiche.

The Bagg Lunch on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Putnam’s listing on Yelp now looks appetizing with a variety of photos I took while dining in their restaurant.

Putnam's Waterview on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Here’s an interesting before and after that I am proud of. China Gourmet had rather uninteresting photos for a long time, but after a little photo shoot with my takeout order, I was able to secure the entire header, including the featured photo, with quality food photos highlighting their cuisine. I love making Goffstown restaurants look good!



China Gourmet Goffstown NH Yelp listing with photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food and Travel

And finally, Riverside Grille had some great photos when they first opened because I made sure to post some beauties from my only visit there (so far).

Riverside Grille on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Improving the Yelp Photos of Manchester NH Restaurants

Since I also regularly frequent the restaurants in Manchester, I wanted to make sure that they look really good over there as well.

Here are some of my favorite photos featured at Fratello’s:

Fratello's Manchester on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Campo Enoteca’s Yelp page looked really nice with my upgraded photos:

Campo Enoteca on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Elm Street’s newest Mexican restaurant, Alas de Frida, got a fresh look after my visit in October:

Alas de Frida on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

It’s been a while, but I still have the featured photos for The Foundry in Manchester (the 2nd photos is not mine but the rest are):

Yelp listing for The Foundry in Manchester NH | photos by Erika Follansbee

My one visit to Antojitos Colombianos in Manchester back in 2021 resulted in these pretty photos still featured across the top (the first 5 are mine):

Yelp listing for Antojitos Colombianos | photos by Erika Follansbee

Sometimes I challenge myself to get all the featured photos in a category, not just a location. Here I have the top 6 spots for Mexican food in Manchester NH. All of those featured photos were taken by me.

Elevating Local Restaurants through Yelp Photos | NH Food Photographer
Highlighting Local Restaurants through Yelp Photos | NH Food Photographer
The Top 6 Mexican Restaurants in Manchester NH on Yelp have Featured Photos by Erika Follansbee

Everywhere, Actually…

Everywhere I go I give Yelp profiles a little magic. Being a wedding photographer helps, as I am able to showcase wedding vendors such as bakeries and florists by highlighting their beautiful work.

From Scratch Baking Co. on Yelp | Photos by Erika Follansbee | Parker Street Food & Travel

Here are a few things I’ve learned about Yelp business (restaurant) photos:

  • The first featured photo is a clear food photo with good lighting and composition
  • The second photo is an interior or exterior shot (if available)
  • All the rest are a combination of photos that Yelp’s algorithm sorts by upvotes, how recent they are, and any number of characteristics that they look for. Usually Yelp chooses decent photos but definitely not always.

I know Yelp is not as popular as it was say, 20 years ago. But it is still a very powerful search engine source, and even if a person is not directly searching on Yelp, a Yelp listing will still appear in Google searches and in various other places. In short, these photos matter. Giving local restaurants a little boost in a small way with a great Yelp photo can have a rippling positive effect. Using my photography in this way to help is a small way I can highlight and elevate our hometown restaurants.

Photographer Erika Follansbee of Parker Street Food & Travel

New Hampshire Food Photography

Erika Follansbee is a published Goffstown, NH food photographer whose job is to make food look amazing. She is available for hire to help small restaurants and cafes to create beautiful images of their dishes to use for marketing, websites, and social media. Magazine-quality food images are the best form of advertisement.

Erika is also a wedding photographer. Visit for more information.

Parker Street Food & Travel

Eating and Exploring in New England & Beyond