Google has always been a Goliath in the online world. Some brazen startups tried to compete with it, only to realize that Google had developed something surprisingly similar. There is one startup, however, that hasn’t backed down from Google: Yelp.
A lot has changed since Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman claimed in a September U.S. Senate hearing that he probably “wouldn’t start Yelp today given Google’s push into local and ability to drive traffic to its Places results.”
Today, Yelp seems like an entirely new company. With many recent partnerships and innovations under its belt, Yelp is proving to be one company that’s ready to give Google a true run for its money.
In mid-June, Yelp announced a partnership with Bing that would integrate its content into Bing Local pages. According to Yelp, “[it] will surface content, including review snippets, photos, business attributes, and more, to Bing users in the U.S.” Bing Local now features a “Powered by Yelp” badge towards the top of the page. This partnership was introduced on the heels of Google’s announcement that it finally plans to put its acquisition of Zagat reviews to use with Google+ Local pages.
One of the biggest moves Yelp made this past year was furthering its relationship with technology giant Apple by becoming the source of content for Siri on the iPhone 4S. Now, Yelp will power check-ins and provide business information for Apple Maps. Many think this partnership was a life-changing move for Yelp, including Greg Sterling of SearchEngineLand.com, who claims, “[Yelp] is now second only to Google in terms of its importance – if not equal”. Even before its game-changing partnerships with Bing and Apple, Yelp started 2012 off right by beating out top competitors Citysearch and Yahoo Local in terms of review count. So why did Yelp succeed? Zhongmin Wang claims in a case study, “[They] made minimal attempts to attract reviewers. One can argue that they simply waited for anonymous reviews to fall from cyberspace.”
On the other hand, Yelp integrates a social element that makes it unique. Rather than scanning through a any one person’s review, Yelp encourages its users to interact with one another by tagging reviews as “Funny”, “Useful” or “Cool”. The site also helps local Yelpers meet up with one another by sponsoring events. With Google+ Local pages, Google finally introduced social elements into its listings. Despite this move, Yelp is still trumping Google in terms of review count. As of April, Yelp boasts an impressive 17 million total reviews, and is adding them at a pace of 700,000 per month. Google, on the other hand, has about three million total reviews and is acquiring them at a pace of one million per month. With all of Yelp’s recent success, it’s likely Google is kicking itself for not successfully acquiring the company back in December 2009.
When testing out Yelp’s waters for yourself, it’s important to remember that Yelp is not just a place for restaurant reviews. Everything from mom and pop shops to large companies should have a well-optimized listing on this review site. Don’t yet have a listing for your company? Visit Yelp today to either claim your company’s listing or create a new one. Also, remember that though Yelp contains more reviews than Google+ Local, it’s still important to have a presence on all local listing sites.
Have you seen success from your company’s local listing? Share your stories below!