« Survey: 85% of Consumers Use the Internet to Find Local Businesses | Main | On Denmark, Get Set, Go! »

April 10, 2012

Yelpy Insights

With millions of contributed reviews, Yelp is the ultimate resource when it comes to recommending great local businesses, no matter what you are looking for. While all this rich content is helpful when you want a variety of options (like when picking the location for that special occasion), sometimes it’s nice to have an easy way to quickly find businesses that match a specific interest.

Enter: Yelpy Insights.

Beginning this week, we’ll start testing out two new filters designed to narrow our search results to match your interests or even age.

The first such filter is specifically designed for veggie lovers. Vegetarians have often told us that they want to find places that serve tasty veggie treats but that can be found outside the “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” categories on Yelp. For example, a burger joint may have great vegetarian options, but no one would classify it as a “vegetarian” restaurant.

While it seems that searching for the word “vegetarian” would be the simple solution, consider all the irrelevant results that you may find: "I'm a vegetarian and this place is awful" or "I'm so glad I'm not vegetarian, the bacon-wrapped filet mignon was great".

To solve this problem, our search engineers have developed a way to analyze the reviews on our site and return valuable Yelpy Insights about which places seem to be the most popular amongst the leafy greens crowd.

How did they do this? Essentially through machine learning. (No, not like the Terminator.) Basically, our Yelp engineers wrote a program that scans the millions of reviews on Yelp and looks for key words and clues about what businesses vegetarians might like and then figure out ways to best surface that information.
Yelpy Insights
We soon discovered the same could be said for other interests and even age groups! For example, some businesses might cater to an older crowd and some a younger one. Yelp users who tell us what year they were born when creating a Yelp profile give us a big hand in determining the right answers so we can show you the best businesses that fit your needs -- as well as interests and age.

Don’t worry, we wouldn’t dare share anyone’s private information. What we can do is learn from signals in the reviews and user profiles how different groups like various businesses in aggregate and use that information to improve your search experience on Yelp.

While we begin with ‘Liked by Vegetarians’ and “X-Somethings”, if all goes well, we’ll look to roll out more Yelpy Insights in the future. Want to find out more about the mechanics behind Yelpy Insights? Visit our Engineering & Product Blog for a deep dive on how we find this information!