Yelp Will Help Your Business, According To This Study

    September 3, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Yelp and the impact the online review service can have on small businesses. This has included everything from fake reviews to alleged extortion, with numerous businesses speaking out on the Internet, in the media and in the courtroom against the company and its policies.

But a lot of businesses are finding success with Yelp, and are gaining customers. Merchant Warehouse has put out results from a study finding that 90% of those polled say positive reviews on Yelp impacted their company buying choices, and 72% of them said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Have you seen positive business effects from your Yelp listing? Let us know in the comments.

According to Merchant Warehouse’s findings, 44% based their choices for what businesses to go to on text reviews, while 26% cited business ratings, 17% said quantity of reviews, and 14% said reviews from friends or family.

Yelp Trusted Reviews

The study finds that 93% of people who conducted research on review sites “typically” make purchases at the businesses they look up. Here’s a look at the types of businesses that are being searched for most:

Business types

Merchant Warehouse also points to data from a Boston Consulting Group survey, finding that small businesses that took advantage of Yelp business accounts saw an increase in annual revenue.

Yelp Annual Revenue

According to the firm, 77% of small businesses that use Yelp say the site has changed the way they respond to customer issues and complaints, but many simply aren’t paying attention.

paying attention to yelp

But other businesses are paying plenty of attention to Yelp, and they’re not happy with what they’re finding. Yelp has been going around the country holding town hall meetings, and according to reports, there are a lot of complaints being tossed the company’s way. The LA Times recently shared an account of one of the meetings:

Many slammed the company for allowing reviewers to post inflammatory comments — one restaurant manager said she cried for three days after a Yelper wrote that her restaurant was filled with Nazis. Others said they had been subjected to aggressive advertising calls from Yelp.

Vintage clothing shop owner Reiko Roberts said the advertising pressure amounted to extortion. She said that when she declined to buy ads, “the lower reviews go to the top and the higher reviews go to the bottom.”

Meanwhile, Yelp continues to maintain a focus on “closing the loop,” meaning getting customers to actually engage in transactions with the businesses they are looking at. It’s still early in the company’s efforts here, but already over the last couple months, Yelp has made acquisitions and launched specific features aimed at doing this.

Has your experience with Yelp been positive or negative? A mix of both? Let us know in the comments.

All images part of an infographic from Merchant Warehouse. View the whole thing here.

[via Social News Daily]
  • Barbara

    Yelp cannot achieve credibility until its reviewers maintain the same accountability as the businesses being reviewed. Businesses owners must provide a personal photo when providing reviews, reviewers frequently don’t. I have had reviewers use fictitious names/locations when posting reviews and have also later learned that some negative reviews were posted by competitors and/or their affiliates. Also, many reviews, positive and negative, are simply factually incorrect. Social media is in its infancy. Facebook with its friend/defriend function operates at a preschool mentality, but like preschoolers is perhaps more honest. Yelp is like a preschool in which constant affirmation is provided to its reviewers by those in charge (note the “useful, cool, etc.” tags after reviews – where are the “stupid, dishonest, mean” tags?). Yet, if a business cries foul play, Yelp reacts like an unfit mommy, “It’s a big house, how was I supposed to know you were molested?” It is difficult to take this unlevel schoolyard seriously, no matter how much positive media Yelp puts forth. Also, I question the methodology of the Harvard study linking increased revenue with higher Yelp ratings. Variable control, anybody? I think social media in general, including, Yelp will mature. But the imbalance has got to change.

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

    Despite Yelp’s negative press lately, it works for businesses. I know, I’ve done consulting work for a couple of small businesses where many of their customers were referred by Yelp.

    In fact, I myself use Yelp to find local businesses with good reviews.

    I don’t think it is Yelp’s system that is the problem – it is probably the sales people working for Yelp that are being shady in order to boost their sales numbers.

  • http://lamanagementco.com Lou Amico

    Yelp’s filter is a huge problem. They want you to encourage your clients to go to Yelp but don’t want you to encourage them to review your business on yelp. Their sales staff is very aggressive as is their billing policies and I have several clients who were extorted into using yelp and saw no improvement in sales.

  • John

    Yelp is just tough!!! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The bottom line is that if you decide to promote your yelp listing and try to earn reviews, over time, your business will get a negative review, no doubt. It’s the law of averages, unless your business is perfect. The key is to somehow convince a high percentage of customers that had a great experience to review your business. This is like pulling teeth. This is so that when things don’t go perfectly (they never do in business) and a client or customer loses control of their emotions or you or your employees make a mistake, then that negative review that is surely on the way doesn’t look so bad amongs 10 or 15 positive reviews. Its just a huge game.

    Also, I personally think that there is extortion at Yelp. Once your biz gets a few positive reviews they absolutely hound you for advertising. Its almost as if they feel entitled to take your money. With 2 businesses that I own, I’ve experienced that once you get going with a few reviews, the sales guys will stay on your *ss with sales calls/emails, and if you don’t buy, sometimes good reviews will be filtered. I’ve seen damage to one of my businesses. 9 natural 5 star yelp reviews filtered, and 1 natural 1 star reviewed left up to hurt us badly. I’ve also heard similar stories from numerous other businesses.

    This research here sums up the fact that the online review is now valued like GOLD by most people, and an easy way to sway someones mind one way or another. The key is to hustle as best you can and just live with it until someone comes up with a better way to redesign this whole system. I had a conversation with a business owner yesterday and it cracked me up. His website says something at the top to the effect of “Best tasting pizza in town rated by multiple local publications, and “the worst load of crap i’ve ever tasted” by some random girl on Yelp. Haha.

  • Efton Patrick

    Yelp frequently removes valid positive reviews and never removes negative ones, no matter how false or slanderous they are. There is no way to discuss removal of reviews with anyone at YELP, so any lies your competition wishes to post about your business are available for all to see. Posting slanderous reviews of the competition is often more valuable to a business than generating valid positive reviews from their customers.

  • http://www.deltarealtygpinc.com patricia spellman

    I rent property from Delta Realty Group.They are the best Property Manager I have ever rent from. The staff @ Delta Realty is one of the kind.I wish all Property Manager had the staff like Delta.One time we was thinking about moving to another city.I ask them do they have one in the city I was trying to move.They stated no.So we decided not to move. Thank Delta for being one of the kind.

  • http://www.houseoflingerie.com/nattoj.html Fred

    Competitors can always put up negative reviews but still I have experienced that listing on Yelp helps alot.

    • http://martinwithwords.com Martin

      You can also always respond to any review. Being able to reach customers already searching for you is very valuable. See what I mean: martinwithwords.com

  • http://www.jimslocknkey.com Jim

    Price too high. $350. per month with 1 year comitment for 450 leads. Plus the phone never stops ringing until you sign up.

    • http://www.lawyernortheastphiladelphia.com Max

      Yelp Call me 100 times until you say yes to advertise with them ,!!

  • Alex Werh

    I find the title of this article a bit incorrect because
    it would be much closer to the truth calling it “Positive reviews on Yelp will help your business”. (You don’t even need the “according to this study” disclaimer…)

    But as we know Yelp is not about just “positive reviews”, it also publishes negative reviews and “negative reviews on Yelp will destroy your business” as so many business owners have already experienced.

    In other words, associating with Yelp is a gamble, a crapshot and the stake is your business. Positive leverage is great, the downside is fatal. As a business owner, do you want to introduce such a volatile element into your business plan? Of course, not. You can not build anything of value and persistence when taking chances daily.

    Business owners can deal with negative reviews and unhappy customers. Some know how to rectify a situation, some don’t, some will learn, some won’t. Reviews are posted all over the web nowadays and we learn to live with that because that’s normal life of a business. However, when a site starts “playing God” deleting (segregating and unlinking) reviews – that’s pure gamble in the Yelp’s casino and as we know the house always wins.

    So, Yelp, take your omniscience of knowing what will be published and what will not be, wrap it in your hubris and shove it up your own gaping reputation. No other site with public reviews drew so many lawsuits as Yelp and the new ones keep on coming, and one of those suits is bound to breach its hull below the waterline and sink it. Yelp, as a business, is gambling with its own fate and will imminently loose it.
    Some time later, commentators will say “oh, well, you know, Yelp had bad reputation…”

  • http://martinwithwords.com Martin

    You can actually turn any review on Yelp to your advantage. The key is to approach it from a customer service standpoint. You can write responses to each and any review. Those responses will be read by people actively looking for you. They’re already the most likely to become your customer. It’s all in how you respond: martinwithwords.com

  • Jorge

    My company got 28 reviews, 24 of them have been filtered. Only 5 have been published. All those 5 reviews got 1 star on each of them. A year ago we were approached by a Yelp sales representative. We did ask why only five reviews were available to the readers and they were all 1 star. Yelp sales representative answered: If you pay us $300 week we will post all the reviews including the filtered ones, and also will promote your site. That is Extortion and Fraud. WE refused the offer, of course.