February 04, 2016

Yelp Extortion Conspiracy Theory Debunked…Again

Sometimes people claim Yelp gives more favorable ratings to businesses who advertise on our platform, and some even allege that Yelp threatens to manipulate ratings and reviews of those who don't advertise. These claims are of course false and have already been scrutinized by courts of law, academic studies, and a closed FTC investigation. They are sensational, however, and the media has often repeated them at face value without doing any investigating or even real reporting. Until today.

Greg Sterling, a well-known analyst and thought leader in the small business/local marketing space, recently heard these claims first hand from a plumber he hired. The plumber insisted that a Yelp sales rep had told him his reviews on Yelp would suffer if he didn't buy advertising. Instead of just accepting and repeating this conspiracy theory, Greg contacted Yelp and asked us why the business owner might say such a thing.

In response, we invited Greg into our office to listen to the recordings of every sales call made to the plumber in question going back several years. (Yelp records the employee side of sales calls.) What did he find? As Greg writes:

There was nothing that sounded like a threat or any suggestion that reviews would be removed or otherwise altered by Yelp if the guy didn’t advertise. There wasn’t anything that could be construed as even implying that.

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Over the course of three years, Yelp sales representatives logged 28 calls lasting at least 30 seconds with this business owner.

We knew that. And it's nice Greg now knows that, too, and that he was able to contribute some balanced perspective. You can read Greg’s full account here.

February 01, 2016

Yelp Consumer Alerts: We Take the Guesswork out of Online Reviews

For nearly twelve years, we at Yelp have been working around the clock to promote consumer trust. At the heart of this mission is the belief that consumers need access to reliable information before deciding where to spend their hard-earned money.

Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative has produced a variety of programs that empower and protect consumers. Our LIVES open data standard integrated restaurant health scores onto business pages. Our ProPublica partnership incorporated health care statistics onto the Yelp business pages of medical treatment facilities at the beginning of. Late last year, we issued Reputation Warnings to more than 100 businesses associated with Movers Alliance, a group of moving companies caught engaging in shady business tactics.

One of the most important programs within Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative is our Consumer Alert Program, which exposes attempts to manipulate business ratings and reviews. This week, we’re releasing a new round of alerts in connection with 37 different business listings. The consumer alerts will be in effect for 90 days.

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Consider these examples:

  • Before hiring Terrie L Culver & Associates, a law firm in Chicago, you’d probably want to know that the firm was caught offering to pay someone to remove a negative review.
  • How about considering the thought of sending your child to their first swim lesson at Gold Medal Swim School in Chandler, Arizona without knowing that we found the business offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews?
  • Likewise, you might think twice before hiring 495 Movers in Rockville, Maryland for your cross-country move if you knew that we caught them promising major bucks to a former customer if they would remove their negative review of the company.

 

In some cases, these efforts to manipulate consumer trust are forms of false advertising which can lead to prosecution and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The bottom line is that Yelp has your back. We’re constantly looking for ways to ensure the integrity of the information available to consumers, including acting on tips from our community of users to help us track down suspicious behavior. If you see something on Yelp or elsewhere that might seem fishy, please let our investigators know.

 

January 28, 2016

Community Votes Call It: $750,000 in Grants Go to Nonprofits Through Yelp Foundation Gives Local Contest

After two weeks of voting in 75 markets across the US, more than 160,000 votes were cast in the Yelp Foundation Gives Local grant contest, and we have a winner! A lot of them, actually. With three nonprofits in each market receiving grants, that’s 225 organizations that are receiving grants totaling $750,000. Read on for the full list.

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It’s amazing to see how passionate community members are about the work these charities do. We saw a ton of talk on the #YFGivesLocal hashtag, with locals sharing who they voted for and nonprofits spreading the good news about their nomination. Each one in their own way supports the Yelp Foundation’s mission of addressing the needs of local communities including: access to information, education, local economic development, and freedom of expression. It’s pretty cool to think of that mission making progress in so many cities across the nation, and I can’t wait to see what each of these nonprofits is able to do with their grant winnings.

Thank you to everyone who took time to vote. It’s so important to the Yelp Foundation to involve the community and Yelp employees in driving decisions about how best to give back to the local communities we all love. That’s why I can’t wait to get started on the Foundation’s next grant program later this year! Go to YelpFoundation.org to stay up to date on all the ways you can get involved with the Yelp Foundation, and for more information on grant winning nonprofits. Learn more about the impact Yelp Foundation grants have in this video profiling two grant recipients from previous years. 

2016 Yelp Foundation Gives Local Grant Winners

First place winners received grants of $5,000, second place received $3,000 grants, and third place received $2,000 grants.

 

Continue reading "Community Votes Call It: $750,000 in Grants Go to Nonprofits Through Yelp Foundation Gives Local Contest" »

January 07, 2016

Yelp’s Chief Revenue Officer

We’re looking forward to a great 2016 at Yelp - one that will deliver new products and features, an expanding global community of users, new talented team members that continue to make Yelp a best place to work, and a proven return on investment for our customers. Oh, and we’ll also hit our 100 millionth review!

Part of what makes Yelp both unique -- and a great place to work -- is the consistent, tenured leadership that has helped us transition from our founding story to our growth story. So, as we kick off another year, I’m pleased to announce the promotion of one of our most accomplished leaders, Jed Nachman, to Chief Revenue Officer.

Since joining Yelp as Head of Local Sales in 2007, Jed has built our sales organization, including client services and revenue operations, from 10 to over 2000 team members. Along the way, Jed and his team have grown Yelp revenue from $500 thousand to $500 million. He has also been an integral member of our executive team -- and helped establish our positive, energetic and highly accountable company culture. Now as Chief Revenue Officer, Jed will lead our local advertising business, take a more prominent role in company-wide planning and help push the company past the $1 billion revenue milestone.

We’re lucky to have Jed as a trusted leader that keeps us focused on customer success, strong revenue performance, and the continued success of Yelp for years to come.

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Jed Nachman, Yelp Chief Revenue Officer

January 06, 2016

How Many Views Do Your Reviews Get? Find Out Now!

For years Yelpers have been taking the time to share local insight knowing their reviews and photos help others find the best businesses out there. Compliments let you know when someone finds your review especially useful, funny, or cool, but that’s just a fraction of the people your reviews are reaching. Now users in all Yelp countries can see just how many people are benefiting from their contributions on Yelp with the addition of total views for the last 90 days of their reviews, photos, and profile. These stats are visible only to the user and can be seen on Yelp desktop and mobile. Views are compiled from activity across all platforms.

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Nique F., Yelp's associate regional marketing director, has some impressive view counts!

We know it’s a commitment to be a Yelper, and we’re continually grateful for the time and effort our community puts into sharing their wisdom. It’s fun to share your opinions, but it’s even more fulfilling to know that thousands of people are led to the best ham sandwich they’ve ever tasted, or the small bridal shop where they purchased the perfect wedding gown, or have avoided some wonky dental work, all thanks to the experiences you and your fellow Yelpers shared.

For new and returning 2016 Elites, we hope you especially enjoy watching your views tick up as you continue sharing your local adventures on Yelp. Here’s to a great new year!

December 21, 2015

Hello...It’s Me: Consumers Call Businesses More Than A Thousand Times on Holidays

Ahh, the holidays. The season for food, festivity and, dare we say, a little too much family time? Don’t worry friends, you’re not alone.

Cabin fever is contagious this time of year, and the proof is in the pudding. We analyzed calls made to businesses on Yelp in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas last year and found that some folks have things other than holiday cheer on their mind.

With calls to businesses in the Nightlife category increasing by 272% on Thanksgiving Day and 393% on Christmas Day, it’s clear that Yelpers are looking to shake the holiday stress away (and searching for something a bit stronger than eggnog).

You can only listen to little Timmy’s rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” for so long before it’s time to seek outside entertainment. Calls to businesses in the Arts & Entertainment category increased by 158% on Thanksgiving Day and 291% on Christmas Day.

Feeling a little sluggish after all those holiday meals? Welcome to the club. Calls to businesses in the Active Life category increased by 165% on Thanksgiving Day and 153% on Christmas Day. Some call it getting a head start on New Year's resolutions, we call it post-pumpkin pie guilt.

Check out the rest of our findings below to see all the ways Yelpers are spending their holiday time. From all of us at here Yelp, we wish you Happy Holidays - and when you’ve had your fill of family time, you know where to find us.

Calls made to businesses in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014:

  • Not everyone is willing to prepare a four-course meal on the big day. Calls to businesses in the Restaurant category increased by 428% on Christmas Day.
  • On your way to grandma’s house and realized you forgot to get Uncle Bob his annual tie? We know the feeling. On Christmas Day, calls to businesses in the Shopping category increased by 212%. That’s a lot of last-minute shoppers.
  • The week after Thanksgiving, calls to businesses in the Restaurant category only increased by 1%. Perhaps we have leftovers to thank?

 

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December 16, 2015

Yelp’s Small Business Pulse Survey: 5 Stars for 2016

Small businesses in communities across the United States are the engines of local economies. They represent more than 99.7% of all employers, accounting for 55% of all jobs and 54% of sales in the U.S. That’s a big deal!

In our first annual Small Business Pulse survey, Yelp tapped 900 small businesses to learn what this influential group is focusing on in the year to come.  If we had to pick one word to describe the outlook of small businesses heading into 2016, it’s undisputedly “optimism.” In fact, 85% of American small businesses active on Yelp expect their revenues to grow, estimating an increase of 26% in 2016.

Startups and Restaurant Industry Expect Revenue Growth

We surveyed Yelp-listed small businesses from nearly every industry: food service, health and medical services, retail and home services...you name it. Small businesses in the restaurant industry are most upbeat about 2016, with 92% expecting an overall revenue increase. Young businesses are also feeling the optimism, predicting 48% growth on average over the next year.

Challenges Despite Optimism

While there is a clear measure of confidence in the year ahead, there is no question that small businesses face plenty of challenges too. Developing effective growth strategies and rising above competition are top of mind; specifically, attracting and retaining customers (60%), managing a limited marketing budget (32%), and competition from larger businesses (30%).  

Digital Marketing Levels the Playing Field

Small businesses may not have the same resources as their bigger competitors, but “Feedback Economy” platforms like Yelp can level the playing field.  Businesses and consumers can now directly engage, bringing together an online community that crosses geographic, economic and social barriers – and giving business owners the digital tools and confidence they need to stay competitive.

  • 85% of small businesses believe digital marketing has helped grow their consumer base.
  • 91% use digital marketing tools such as social media platforms (75%), consumer review platforms (48%) and search engine advertising (48%).
  • 79% of businesses surveyed believe that digital tools allow them to provide a more personal touch in their communities, enabling them to address the individual needs of their customers.

Yelpers Rock the Vote

Politically, small businesses share the same concerns as large businesses: reducing the regulatory burden and simplifying the tax code, which could make the process of filing taxes faster and easier for small businesses. They want changes that would allow them to focus on core business issues and grow in 2016.

Good Vibes for 2016

Yelp small businesses have a clear message heading into 2016: the recovery is over -- it’s time to grow, baby, grow!  As the economy continues to improve and new digital tools emerge to connect with existing customers and reach new ones, small businesses are poised for a great 2016.

 

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December 07, 2015

Inside Yelp’s Inaugural Business Leader Summit

Our mission at Yelp is to connect people to great local businesses, and critical to this mission is the work we do engaging the business owner community. As we learn about their objectives and the challenges business owners face, we’re able to share effective ways to use the site to help this community reach their goals.

Over time we’ve learned that some of the best ideas are born when business owners have a chance to connect with one another, which is why we recently brought 100 entrepreneurs representing 86 communities in the US and Canada to Yelp HQ for two days of conversation and inspiration at a historic event called Coast-to-Coast: Coming Together Because We Mean Business.  

Attendees met with Yelp’s founder and CEO, swapped success stories, unearthed new strategies during small group discussions, and attended sessions on everything from responding to reviews to best practices in hiring. Yelp’s engineering and product teams gained valuable insight on how to enhance business owner offerings, and we even found some time to raise a glass and toast the accomplishments of this remarkable group.

But don't take it from us! Hear from several Coast-to-Coast attendees as they give you a glimpse inside this inaugural event and the learnings they brought back to their local communities by watching this video: 

December 01, 2015

Vote for Nonprofits In Your Community to Win a Grant of Up To $5,000

Don’t have much cash to spare, but still want to give back to your community? Here’s your chance to make an impact.

The Yelp Foundation Gives Local community grant contest launches today, and will be giving away $10,000 in grants to nonprofits in each of 75 U.S. cities, all based on votes from locals like you! That’s a total of $750,000 in grants that will be awarded based on the wants and needs of the local community.

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Go to the Yelp Foundation Gives Local site at YFGivesLocal.org to cast your vote from December 1-15. Choose among three nonprofits in each of 75 markets which embody the Yelp Foundation’s mission of addressing the needs of local communities including: access to information, education, local economic development, and freedom of expression. First-, second-, and third-place winners will get $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 grants respectively, awarded in January 2016.

Share why you support local nonprofits and tell your friends how they can do the same with #YFGivesLocal. Voting is open to everyone (one vote per person per day), so there’s no limit on the good vibes we can send to these charities that work so hard to make life better for our communities.

This time of year is critical for nonprofit community engagement and fundraising. By launching on Giving Tuesday, the Foundation hopes to draw more attention to the important work these local groups do and give people a way to support these organizations, regardless of how much they can personally donate.

The Foundation’s grant and matching programs have given more than $2.6 million to charity since it was founded in 2011, and this new program will put $750,000 back into local nonprofit organizations in more communities than ever before. 

To learn more about the Yelp Foundation, check out YelpFoundation.org.

November 24, 2015

Yelp’s Top 20 Cities to Shop Local in 2015

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Yelp recently commissioned an online survey with Harris Poll which found that 64% of Americans plan to shop at local businesses this holiday season, and those local shoppers plan to spend an average of $258 each! Here at Yelp, we’re thrilled that so many Americans plan to support their local economies this holiday season by spending a big chunk of change on Main Street.

So our next questions is...where to shop? We culled through millions of Yelp reviews to find out which cities in the U.S. are the best for finding gifts. To determine this list, we created a gifting score for each city by looking at reviews mentioning the word “gift” at businesses in specific shopping categories that are popular for the holidays. We then ranked those cities based on the gifting score and included up to two cities per state. Voila!

Click through to see some of the best shopping spots in each of Yelp’s top 20 cities to shop local for the holidays, and get ready for some gift-giving inspiration:

1. Philadelphia, PA

2. Honolulu, HI

3. Seattle, WA

4. Oakland, CA

5. Portland, OR

6. Oklahoma City, OK

7. New Orleans, LA

8. Burbank, CA

9. Brooklyn, NY

10. Denver, CO

11. Providence, RI

12. Rochester, NY

13. Louisville, KY

14. Reno, NV

15. Austin, TX

16. Minneapolis, MN

17. Scottsdale, AZ

18. Washington, DC

19. Tulsa, OK

20. Las Vegas, NV