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May 2012

May 29, 2012

Reflections on Yelp's Small Business Advisory Council

I'm Wade Lombard, owner of Square Cow Movers in Austin, TX. When Yelp sent out applications for this past year’s Small Business Advisory Council I thought: “Seriously? I barely have time for my business much less a council for someone else’s business.” So the application sat in my inbox for two weeks. Finally, my curiosity into what was motivating Yelp to create such a council won over. With some reluctance, I started working my way through the questions...

Up to that point, Yelp was merely one tool my small business used to help make the phone ring, albeit a very effective tool. So when I received the call from Yelp inviting me to join, I agreed to push meetings, avoid emails, and stiff-arm employees for one hour a month over the course of the next year.

To my surprise, Yelp followed through on pulling together an eclectic group for the council. The pendulum swung from a grocery store owner based in New York, to a casino manager from Vegas. The council members represented industries such as barbershops, property management, wineries, and more. Admittedly, some of these folks came in viewing Yelp as a new four-letter word. Meanwhile, others seemed ready to name their next child “Yelp” (I voted against). The diversity was downright scary-- in a good way.

We were two conference calls in when Yelp hosted the council at HQ in San Francisco for our annual summit. After touring each floor of the Yelp offices, we met with multiple department leaders. These sessions were used to gather feedback about how our businesses were affected by Yelp as well as how things could improve from our perspective. The folks at Yelp effectively explained that while most of its users are consumers, small businesses are equally important. Our thoughts, ideas, and arguments were heard, absorbed, and awkwardly enough, recorded.

In the end, a giant list was created based on our conversations. Some of these items have been 100% addressed:

Some other ideas are in the works, and a few perhaps the engineers are probably still laughing about. Regardless, changes were made, and I’m convinced Yelp for business owners is better because of them.  

In retrospect, while I was hesitant to apply, I was motivated by what was behind the application and furthermore the council itself…a genuine effort by Yelp to work closely with the business community.

Are you interested in being a part of the next Small Business Advisory Council? Click here to apply.

May 24, 2012

Get Notified! New Updates to Yelp for Android

Today we're showing our Android app users some love! You may have read (and even used!) our most recent Android & iPhone updates that let you comment and like your friends’ check-ins. With Android 3.1, we’ve added a nifty new notification bar at the bottom of your home screen. Not only will it alert you when you receive a check-in comment from a friend, but it’ll also give a heads-up when you receive new compliments, friend requests and more.

The new Android notifications bar makes it easier to manage your Yelp alerts so you never miss a beat, whether it's the opportunity to make a new friend, or that quick comment about some inside intel at a local business.

May 10, 2012

Yelp Check-in Comments

Have you ever seen a friend check into a business on Yelp and wanted to let them know you highly approve of their choice? Or, perhaps want to give them an insider tip to order the srichacha hot wings that aren’t on the menu or, better yet, you’re 15 minutes away and will be right there (so they can have a beer waiting for you)?

Previously, there wasn’t a good way to do this via Yelp check-ins, but starting today, we’re making the ability to holla’ at your friends a whole lot easier! Users can now like and comment on their friends' check-ins on both our iPhone and Android applications.


Check-in Comments are different than Tips, meaning only you (and not prospective customers or the particular business that you’re in) can see the comments or likes made by your friends. Just like all Yelp notifications, you can opt in to get alerted to Check-in Comments and likes through push notifications -- so you never miss a tip, like or shout! 

With the Yelp app being used on an average of more than 6 million unique mobile devices per month last quarter, it’s obviously a popular way to connect with great local businesses. Starting today, we hope you enjoy this new way to connect with one another on Yelp.

May 09, 2012

Norway! Yes Way!

Norge! Heia Norge!
Nå kan du Yelpe blant fjorder og fjell!

Norge, landet som i følge National Geographics lesere kan skryte av å ha verdens beste kulturminne, (fjordene, så klart), er verdens fjerde rikeste land per innbygger når det gjelder formue, og kan ta æren for oppfinnelser som strekker seg fra den beskjedne ostehøvelen til den velkjente bindersen, kan nå også ha gleden av 27 millioner anmeldelser på Yelp.com.

Å ta en kaffe og en kakebit sammen venner er like mye en tradisjon i Norge som skisporten er…ehem… norsk...vel, de oppfant jo skisporten, tross alt! Det blir spennende å se hvordan denne aktive og sosiale befolkningen på nesten fem millioner mottar, former og utvikler Yelp som en sosial plattform, og bruker den til å fremheve både det beste og verste bedriftene i nærmiljøet har å by på 

Hvis den fermenterte ørreten i den tradisjonelle retten rakfisk kanskje ikke faller i smak, synes vi absolutt at alle burde stikke innom det lokale bakeriet sitt for å ta seg en krumkake eller to – de smaker godt hele året, ikke bare til jul. Hvis dette lyder som siste skrik, burde du kanskje også vite at Oslo er vertskap for det ekte Skriket på Munch-Museet.

For å etablere Yelp i Norge, vil vårt fokus først og fremt være å bygge et Yelp-samfunn i Oslo. Yelpere står likevel fritt til å anmelde og rangere bedrifter i hele landet, og dele sine meninger til både lokalbefolkning og turister. Alle fortjener å vite hvor man finner den beste kaffen i byen!

Fra og med i dag kan folk i Norge logge seg inn på Yelp.no, opprette en egen profil og få tilgang til - og bruke mobil- applikasjonene. Bedrifter ligger allerede inne i basen med en enkel profil, og eierne kan selv gå inn på biz.yelp.no og oppgradere profilen gratis med bilder og informasjon.

P.S. Selv om vi forstår at Troll er en viktig del av norsk folklore, håper vi at de innsiktsfulle solstrålene som blir spredt på Yelp vil skremme dem bort fra siden for godt ;)

Screen Shot in Norwegian

Norway! Yes Way!
Yelping in the Fjords is now possible!

Norway, a country that boasts the world’s best Heritage site as voted for by readers of National Geographic (the Fjords of course), the fourth wealthiest country in the world in monetary value and inventions to its credit that range from the humble cheese slicer to the ubiquitous paper clip, can now benefit from the more than 27 million reviews that have been contributed to the Yelp site.

Sitting down with friends over coffee and cake is as much an institution in Norway as skiing is to…uh…Norway…well they did invent the sport! We are looking forward to seeing how this active and social population of under 5 million takes, moulds and develops Yelp as a social platform to help highlight the best and worst local businesses in their neighbourhood.

Whereas the fermented trout in the traditional dish Rakfisk may not be to everyone’s tastes, we definitely feel everyone should pop on down to their local bakery and enjoy a Krumkake or two – they are good at any time of the year, not just at Christmas. If that all sounds like a Scream, maybe you should also know Oslo plays host to the real thing at the Munch Museum.

Our initial community building efforts in Norway will concentrate on Oslo, but yelpers can rate and review businesses from across the country and share their views with both locals and tourists – everyone deserves to know the best place to get a kaffedoktor!

As of today people in Norway can log on to Yelp.no, create their profile, access and use the mobile apps, while businesses can claim their page for free and start building their profile at biz.yelp.no

P.S. Although we understand that Trolls are an important part of Norwegian folklore, we are hoping the insightful rays of light shared on Yelp will help banish them from the site forever ;)

May 03, 2012

“Customer Service” has a Big Impact on Yelp Ratings

Yelp has long advised businesses to “focus on great customer service and the ratings and reviews will come”. Working with our Search & Data Mining team, we took a deep dive into the data to see how perceived “customer service” impacts review ratings, both good and bad.

Of course, other factors in a reviewer's experience come into play when rating a business, but what we found is that customer service plays an incredibly crucial role when it comes to having a strong or poor rating on Yelp.

Let’s dive in further and find out if good or bad customer service really makes a difference in a review. We looked at people who mentioned “bad” or “awful” customer service versus those that mention “good” or “great” customer service. If a yelper mentioned good customer service, they are over 5 times as likely to give a 5 star review rather than a 1 star. Similarly, nearly 70% of “bad” customer service experiences are given 1 star, compared to less than 5% that get 5 stars.

Saying "focus on great customer service and the ratings and reviews will come" is easy, but what do yelpers think is good or bad?  Of course, every business is different, but we grabbed the words that showed up more often in positive customer service reviews and threw them in a cloud to see what stood out.

It looks to us like yelpers care about the simple things. Aside from the generally positive feeling about a place that yelpers love, “friendly”, “nice” and “helpful” stand out as things that are often mentioned with positive customer service, and hence good reviews.    

If you are serious about improving customer service for your business, you might take some time to read your reviews and see if there are perceptions of your business that aren’t as positive as the ones above. In some instances, it may be tough, but challenge yourself to look at what you’re doing consistently well and what you’re doing consistently not so well. From there:

  • Familiarize yourself with Yelp’s free tools and tutorial videos available to you in our Business Support Center and take the first step unlock your Yelp page.
  • Create an actionable plan and work with your staff to address the concerns of your customers.
  • Use our free tools at biz.yelp.com to respond to yelpers who have reviewed you.
  • You can even outline the steps you’re taking to address customer concerns in your “About the Business” section via our free tools.
  • Stay positive. No one spends their hard earned money at a business hoping to have a bad experience. Yelpers love it when businesses reach out to them, and want small businesses in their community to succeed.

*Based on Yelp reviews as of April 2012, excluding reviews that were filtered or removed.



May 02, 2012

Yelp’s giving you a Passport to your own backyard!

Throughout the month of May, Yelp community managers in select cities around the globe are showcasing some of the best local businesses in a particular neighborhood. Yelp wants to help you get to know everything in your city - from local restaurants, bars and boutiques to dry cleaners, shoe cobblers and barbers - and Yelp Passport encourages locals to get out and explore!

Just as every single one of our Yelp communities is unique, so too are the Yelp Passport events in each city. Below is just a sampling of the fun (often free / discounted) events that our Community Managers are hosting in order to get locals out to discover another part of their amazing city:

Joi B. has a whole slew of events planned for Yelp New Orleans’ Passport to Freret Street, including a massive kick-off party, fashion show and bar crawl, but she’s especially excited for the Cook Dat! demo, where gourmet hot dog gurus from Dat Dog will be showing New Orleaners how to make their own tasty creations.

Dat Dog 2
As part of Yelp Providence's Passport to Fox Point, Hilary H. has organized a free flower arranging class at Studio 539 Flowers! Yelpers will nibble on cupcakes and sip champagne while learning some floral tips from the expert owner of this much-loved boutique flower shop.

Pound for a pound, Yelp London’s Passport to Brixton (organized by Josephine B.) is the hyper-local event of the year. British Pounds (£) can be swapped out for Brixton Pounds (B£) and Londoners will be encouraged to shop locally at Brixton Village Market.

Next up, we have Rachel F. who is gearing up for Yelp Louisville’s Passport Back to the 80's Ballin' Brunch, an 80's themed play date brunch complete with a ping pong tournament, loud clothing and bad... we mean "good" music.

And finally, Jeffrey S. didn’t want his yelpers’ furry friends to miss out on Yelp Salt Lake City’s Passport to 9th & 9th, so he’s hosting a doggy night at Posh Paws. A professional trainer will give a quick demo and a doggy baker will be there with treats for the pups. The humans will have plenty of sips on the front porch where yelpers can meet and mingle.

Bon voyage! 

Full List of Yelp Passport Events:
Amsterdam: Yelp Amsterdam’s “Pak de 9!” (May 14 - 21)
Atlanta: Yelp's Passport to Decatur Square! (May 7 - 20)

Berlin: Yelps Pass für den Reuterkiez (May 14 - 20)

Calgary: Yelp's Passport to Alberta Beer (May 6 - 13)
Chicago Suburbs: Yelp's Passport to Elmhurst! (May 16 - 23)
Columbus: Yelp's Passport to Relaxation (May 14 - 20)
Dallas: Yelp's Passport To Deep Ellum (May 7 - 21)
Detroit: Yelp's Passport to Midtown! (May 14 - 23)
Kansas City: Yelp's Passport To The Crossroads (May 7 - 13)
London: Yelp's Passport to Brixton! (May 24 - 27)
Louisville: Yelp's Passport to NuLu/Butchertown (May 12 - 16)
Lyon: Yelp Passeport Pour Les Pentes (May 23 - June 2)

Madrid: Pasaporte Yelp a Malasaña (May 20 - 27)

Milan: Passaporto Yelp ai Navigli! (May 14 - 20)
New Orleans: Yelp's Passport To Freret Street (May 11 - 17)
Paris: Passeport Yelp pour le 10ème (May 21 - 27)
Philadelphia: Yelp's Passport to East Passyunk (May 14 - 20)
Providence: Yelp's Passport to Fox Point (May 7 - 20)
Salt Lake City: Yelp's Passport to 9th & 9th (May 14 - 19)
Vienna: Yelps Pass für Mariahilf (May 14 - 20)

Stay tuned for other Yelp Passport events popping up in your city!