Did Yelp Just Become Better For Businesses?

    June 17, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Yelp may have a tough time overcoming negative perception from some businesses thanks to a seemingly never-ending barrage of unproven accusations, but the company continues to add features that can potentially help merchants.

Do you think Yelp is getting better for businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Yelp announced that it is now letting users send messages to business owners through their listings on the site. The idea is to have a way for people to send questions to businesses if they can’t find all the info they need on the Yelp listing itself. Yelp doesn’t want to have to send users elsewhere to find out what they need to know.

On listings, a link that says “Message the business” will appear under the phone number.

“We realize there are times when a very specific question might not be easily answered with a quick look at a business listing (and you don’t always feel like picking up the phone to inquire about),” writes Yelp product manager Ely L. on the company’s blog. “For instance, whether a restaurant will be serving a special pre-fixe menu for Mother’s Day or what a spa charges for a manzilian very specific treatment for males.”

“While some customers prefer to pick up the phone, others would much rather communicate via a keyboard, so this feature adds one more way to reach out to businesses, while giving business owners another opportunity to close the loop and receive even more leads,” adds Ely. “Biz owners will receive an email when they get a message from a consumer and can reply directly from that email without even having to log into their business owner’s account. When people click on the “message the business owner” button for a particular business, they’ll be shown the average response time to help them understand when, on average, they might get a response.”

The feature is rolling out to all businesses who have claimed their accounts. The feature can be disabled if you don’t want to get messages.

Yelp recently announced the addition of video reviews, which could go either way for businesses. If the company lives up to its filtering promises on those, it should be a mostly positive thing.

Last month, Yelp launched a new reservations tool to enable businesses to let customers book reservations online.

They also recently let businesses highlight Bitcoin acceptance.

Yelp is also expanding its Small Business Advisory Council, looking for input on products and new ideas for businesses right from business owners themselves. Presumably, we’ll be seeing more business-oriented features come from that.

Yelp says it has over 57 million local reviews across 27 countries.

Do you think Yelp is making moves that will actually help businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Yelp

  • Sam

    This might be great it Yelp’s eyes but it still does nothing to solve the biggest problem with Yelp and that is fake negative reviews. As soon as they fix that, they will be legitimate.

  • Jill

    Our problem with Yelp is they hide our reviews. There’s not many of them but since we don’t “pay to play” with them we get little to nothing out of it.

  • Rick

    Yelp is a joke for a small business like ours. Our good reviews get hidden
    They think that they are the great wizard of OZ. Know all, See all

  • Jon

    From a business owners perspective, this is a BABY STEP (read newborn) in the right direction. There has to be some process to validate negative reviews and perhaps more importantly to print the positive ones.

  • Jonnathan Poster

    If someone has a question about my business why don’t they just call or visit the web site? Why go through yelp? This is silly and consumers won’t do it.

  • steve

    i have gotten to the point hat I request Yelp remove my customers sites from their index.

    I have no use for blackmailers, and this accusation is not unproven, it is proven every time you look at yelp reviews.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    This new feature helps Yelp and businesses that do not have a website yet.

    Here’s the problem with Yelp: They have a great website that produces great results for both users and businesses. The thing is they need to monetize it somehow, but their organic results are so good that most business owners do not feel the need to spend money on advertising. So to increase sales, they may or may not be using unethical tactics to sign more advertisers up.

    I think instead of using shady tactics to increase revenue, Yelp needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with an innovative service or feature that will produce more revenues for them.

  • Ross A Barefoot

    Who cares about this when they are still aggressively, inconsistently, and unethically filtering reviews? The way they handle reviews is actively damaging legitimate businesses, so what does it matter that people can make reservations online or message a business? I have a client with 18 positive reviews, every single one filtered, and 3 negative reviews which are the only ones that show. What consumer would want to message that business, or make a reservation? Damage done.

  • gnipgnop

    Cause, ya know, business owners sit over their email all day. This is ridiculous.

  • Demetrios Salpoglou

    Every time I read reviews about yelp the overwhelming majority of them say yelp sucks. I have read countless reviews about Yelp across multiple websites blogs and other mediums and nearly everyone says that Yelp is a horrible company that filters real reviews and unfilters fake reviews to cause controversy. I mean honestly does anyone trust reviews were people don’t put their real picture in their real name where you can find them?

    Does anyone really trust reviews written by a fake person with an avatar or a fake picture?

    Get real. Yet Yelp nearly always has fake avatars and there is no way to reach these people to even figure out if it is a real review or a fake review

    Anyone can find me and my name and my phone number….. Yelp sucks they are driven by immoral principles and anyone working there should be ashamed of themselves I’m sure their parents didn’t raise them to be immoral and unethical…