Yelp May Not Be The Go-To Source for Restaurant Reviews.

Last August I reviewed The Yelp Starter Package for Small Business’s which is $350 a month. At the time I liked the program. Here is what I was initially looking at:

  • Mobile – The Yelp app is integrated with Siri (Apple’s Voice Search) and Apple Maps on the iPhone. That means Apple is using the info from Yelp for their voice searches, not Google info, and will pull up your Yelp app if you have it. Apple controls over half the market in mobile phones, people who generally have more discretionary income.
  • Yelp Ads – a Business’s ads go at the top of Yelp search pages. Also you get ads on competitors Yelp pages who do not have Yelp accounts. No ads are on your page as long as you have a business account. Yelp can give you stats like “over 9000 people search for Sushi Restaurants every month, total of 18,000 searches. We currently get about 17-27 hits per month in an average yelp search”, stuff like that.
  • Dashboard – you get an internal dashboard that can be used to track campaigns.
  • Yelp Deals – You can post deals directly to the site. This may increase some business but can also be used to track campaigns.
  • Slide show & Video – Yelp provides a 30 sec video explaining the business and a slide show for the Yelp Business page.
I’ve Always Said, Social Media Changes So Fast!

This Year Things are a Little Different.

  • Mobile – I’m not impressed with Siri at all after being able to use her for the last year. I am finding that Google voice search is much more accurate. Google is leaning on their own “Local” reviews over Yelps.
  • The Yelp Community – have you heard of “Amy’s Bakery Company” in Arizona? If you haven’t watched Hells Kitchen lately you would need to see this one. Basically the owners accuse Bloggers and “Reviewers” of discrediting their business. The full show is here. The owners do come across as crazy but they also expose a fatal flaw in Yelp’s reviewing system… Anyone, and I mean anyone, can write a review of your business whether they have been there or not.

This is a deal breaker for anyone who is using Yelp. On FourSquare you have to check in before you can leave a tip. On Yelp there are no such controls. I monitored Amy’s Bakery Company Yelp page for a few days and noticed that there were over 1200 reviews of this small restaurant, mostly from people who saw the Hells Kitchen Episode.

After a few days many of the reviews disappeared and now there are less than 200. Reviewers are still posting fake reviews but now they are dripping with sarcasm and some are even 5 Star reviews even though the actual reviews are bad.

Flash Mobs Run Yelp

Yelp may not be the go to source for Restaurant reviews. I would now be very careful with Yelp because anyone who can coordinate a flash-mob can effectively ruin your business on Yelp. That won’t happen on other review sites like Zagat or FourSquare.

My advice for now, be careful with Yelp. Their Achilles heal has been exposed and I think more people will take advantage of it in the future. Only time will tell if Yelp fixes this issue.

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