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December 2013

December 19, 2013

Los Angeles County Restaurant Hygiene Grades Now on Yelp

Earlier this year, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C., Yelp announced an open data project with the City of San Francisco: bringing restaurant hygiene scores onto Yelp business listings. Soon thereafter, Louisville, Kentucky -- a model city for embracing open data standards -- signed up, followed by Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina.

Today, we're thrilled to announce that the most populous county in the country, Los Angeles, has begun providing restaurant inspection data created after July 1, 2013 in the LIVES format. LIVES, which stands for Local Inspector Value Entry Specification, is an open data standard which allows government entities that conduct restaurant inspections to share their data in a format that is easily ingestible for display on Yelp.

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What does this mean?

Starting today, restaurant hygiene scores will begin appearing on Yelp business listings for Los Angeles County restaurants. The score will initially be visible on about a third of Los Angeles county restaurants and will fully populate onto Yelp on a rolling basis as new inspections are completed. By law, all Los Angeles County restaurants have to be inspected every 12 months. This means that, by July 2014, virtually every restaurant listing in the county will include this attribute.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, under the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Fielding, has been an international leader in defining best practices for environmental health and restaurant inspections. In fact, Los Angeles County helped pioneer the concept of requiring restaurants to display scores and letter grades as an informational tool for citizens. According to follow-up research, this simple requirement led to a significant reduction in hospitalization due to foodborne illness and resulted in an increased average score across the industry.

At Yelp, we're optimistic that conspicuously displaying restaurant hygiene scores while consumers are deciding where to go rather than once they get there can have a potentially significant impact on public health. Indeed, we believe it can save lives.

December 18, 2013

We Know Just the Place

For nearly 10 years now, Yelp has been connecting people with great local businesses. Our community of Yelpers has grown by leaps and bounds over that time -- now stretching across 24 countries! -- but their adventurous spirit of discovery has always remained the same. These passionate locals and their eagerness to share their experiences and local wisdom on our site are the reason Yelp has become the ultimate trusted local guidebook for finding any type of small business, whether in your backyard or halfway around the world.

To celebrate this vibrant community, we’ve created visualizations of a few scenarios where Yelp is the ultimate resource to help you find just the place: when searching out hidden gems in your own backyard, when looking to fill an unusual or infrequent need, and when the travel bug bites and you find yourself exploring a new city.

To bring these “thank goodness I have Yelp!” moments to life, we enlisted the help of a real San Francisco Elite Yelper, Eliza D. Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, and we have to agree!

 

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Discovering hidden gems in your city

Whether you’ve lived in the same spot all your life or are new to town (like Eliza, who moved to SF from London earlier this year), chances are there are doors you have yet to open, streets you have yet to take, and new places popping up faster than you can bookmark them on Yelp. 

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Filling an unusual or infrequent need

Be it a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, when you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, it can be hard to find good advice. Yelp’s got your back, with reviews from real locals like you for hundreds of categories of local businesses, including dog groomers, plumbers, financial advisors and realtors.

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Jetsetting around the world

As J.R.R. Tolkien put it, “Not all those who wander are lost.” True, but a trusty guide can help add once-in-a-lifetime memories to those life adventures, steering you clear of tourist traps and straight into spots you’ll tell stories about for years.

As Yelp continues to expand and connect people to great local businesses in cities and countries around the world, our community of locals and commitment to trustworthy content will remain the lifeblood of Yelp and what makes us such a valuable resource. Stay tuned -- you might see these visuals more in the future, maybe even featuring the faces of more Yelpers around the world.

Now get back out there, keep exploring, and we’ll SYOY (see you on Yelp)!

December 17, 2013

Paid Reviews Don’t Have a Place on Yelp

Let’s say you decide you’re ready to try out that new hairstyle you’ve been seeing in magazines so you do a quick search on Yelp to find just the right stylist. You think you find the place, but imagine how unhelpful it would be if all of those glowing reviews you’re reading were solicited from a business owner looking to artificially inflate their Yelp rating? Don’t worry, we don’t tolerate attempts to mislead consumers and we go to great lengths to recommend reviews on Yelp that reflect honest opinions of consumers.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our content and have a number of systems in place to recommend the most helpful reviews to the more than 100 million unique visitors who turn to the site each month. Our first line of defense is our recommendation software which works 24/7 to sift through the more than 47 million reviews that have been submitted to the site to recommend the most useful and reliable ones. In addition, we rely on our community of users to flag and bring issues to our user support team’s attention, we work with law enforcement officials when necessary, and we issue Consumer Alert warnings when we catch a business red-handed attempting to deceive consumers.

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Today we posted a new round of Consumer Alert warnings for a number of businesses who we have caught either trying to buy reviews, offering rewards or discounts for reviews or having a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address.

For example, we discovered a Craigslist post that offered to pay Yelpers for writing reviews for Edan Edan Salon in Los Angeles, as you can see from the below evidence (which we hyperlink to in the Consumer Alert on Edan Edan Salon’s Yelp listing). How do we know this ad was posted by the business and not some imposter? The phone number and email address given in the ad match those that were used to claim Edan Edan Salon’s free business owner account.

Edan_edan_salon-1It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t act in haste when issuing these alerts. Our team painstakingly gathers evidence and conducts stings. And if the offending behavior stops, the Consumer Alert warning will be removed from the business' Yelp listing after 90 days.

December 11, 2013

Yelp’s a breeze in Portuguese!

Yelp, uma lufada de ar em Português!

Como Yelp continua a crescer, chegou a altura de entrar num país cuja influência foi sentida em todo o mundo: Portugal. Em tempos, o império português incluiu o Brasil, regiões da Índia, a Oceânia e a África, um império que reinou durante mais de 600 anos, tendo contribuído para que mais de 240 milhões de pessoas falem português hoje em dia. Temos muita em honra em dar as boas vindas ao 24º país que se veio juntar ao Yelp!

Ladeado pela Espanha a este, Portugal é o país mais ocidental da Europa e um dos mais antigos, com fronteiras datadas desde o século XII. Portugal é ainda a casa do não oficial "fim do mundo" de Sagres.

O saudosismo é um passatempo nacional e existe até mesmo um género de música, o Fado, que é dedicado ao sentimento de nostalgia, melancolia e perda. Por outro lado, há muito para celebrar também. Por exemplo, com 800 quilómetros de orla costeira e muito sol, em Portugal, é possivel surfar 365 dias por ano. Além disso, Lisboa tem a ponte mais longa da Europa. Os portugueses têm a fama de comer mais marisco do que qualquer outro povo do mundo, e têm uma rede de multibanco tão sofisticada, onde é possível pagar os impostos.

Talvez pagar impostos não seja um motivo para comemorar, mas aqui está um grande motivo: a partir de hoje, 10 milhões de habitantes de Portugal podem usar Yelp para procurar a sua churrasqueira favorita, um bom bacalhau, ou um local para saborear vinho verde ou vinho do Porto.

Os esforços de construção da comunidade do Yelp vão começar em Lisboa, mas a partir de agora os utilizadores em todo o país serão capazes de ler e escrever críticas acerca de grandes negócios locais.

Quer começar? Registe-se em www.yelp.pt ou faça o download da aplicação do Yelp no seu telemóvel para começar a partilhar os seus locais favoritos. Os negócios também podem entrar em ação no biz.yelp.pt criando a sua página grátis e construindo o seu perfil.

Yelp Screenshot and Portugal Badge


Yelp’s a breeze in Portuguese!

As Yelp continues to grow, it’s only fitting that we enter a country whose influence has been felt across the globe: Portugal. At one time, its empire included Brazil, parts of India, Oceania and Africa, an empire that reigned for over 600 years and has led to over 240 million people speaking Portuguese today. It’s our honor to say bem-vindo to the 24th country to join Yelp!

Flanked by Spain to the east, Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe and one of the oldest, with borders dating back to the 12th century. Portugal is even home to the unofficial ‘end of the world’ in Sagres.

Fatalism is a national pastime and there is even a genre of music, Fado, devoted to feelings of longing, melancholia and loss. On the other hand, there’s plenty to celebrate too. For instance, with 497 miles (800 km) of coastline and endless sun, you can surf 365 days a year in Portugal. What’s more, it is home to Europe’s longest bridge, the Portuguese are rumored to eat more shellfish per capita than any other country in the world and they have an ATM network so sophisticated you can pay your income taxes from one!

Ok, so maybe paying your taxes isn’t cause to celebrate, but here’s a big one: starting today, Portugal's 10 million inhabitants can use Yelp to search for their favorite churrasqueira, bacalhau, or a happening spot to sip some vinho verde or Port.

Yelp’s community building efforts will start in Lisbon, but users across the country will be able to read and write reviews of great local businesses starting now.

Want to get started? Log on to www.yelp.pt or download Yelp’s mobile app to start sharing your favorites.  Businesses, too, can get in on the action at biz.yelp.pt by claiming their page for free and building out their profile.

December 10, 2013

HBS Study Debunks "Extortion" Conspiracy Theory

Professor Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Professor Giorgos Zervas of Boston University have released an independent study debunking the allegations that Yelp provides preferential treatment to advertisers. (For what it’s worth, we have always responded to this conspiracy theory the same way: it is not and has never been true.)

In the professors’ words, “Yelp's current implementation of the filtering algorithm does not treat advertisers' reviews in a manner different to non-advertisers' reviews.

You can read the relevant section of the study here (or read the full study here):

The TL;DR version? Tests were run to determine if a business’ decision to advertise on Yelp had any influence on which reviews were recommended. Professors Luca and Zervas ran tests on a dataset of 316,415 reviews for 3,625 restaurants to determine if a business’ decision to advertise on Yelp had any influence on which reviews were recommended. No correlation between the reviews displayed on Yelp business listings and advertising was found, or as the authors put it, “neither 1- nor 5-star reviews were significantly more or less likely to be filtered for businesses that were advertising on Yelp."

December 02, 2013

New Yelp App for Kindle Fire: Bringing Great Local Businesses to Your Fingertips on Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX has joined the list of mobile devices where you can find Yelp! For customers in the US, when you unwrap a new Kindle Fire HDX, you’ll find a brand new Yelp app available right out of the box. The Kindle joins the list of platforms, including Apple and Bing, where Yelp content is powering local search for millions of consumers on a daily basis.

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We’re committed to connecting people with great local businesses worldwide, and this new Yelp app delivers an amazing consumer experience, in line with Yelp and Amazon’s shared vision of delivering the best of the best to our customers. We worked closely with Amazon to build a new Yelp app that takes advantage of the Kindle form factor to emphasize photos through a new visual style.

“We are thrilled to see the beautiful new Yelp app built and optimized exclusively for the Kindle Fire HDX,” said Steve Rabuchin, General Manager of Amazon Appstore. “The Yelp app really shines on the Kindle Fire tablet, giving customers access to useful local information, right at their fingertips.”

Yelp Kindle App Nearby

Browsing for a business is a breeze, and fans of the written word can also contribute their own prose, with the ability to write Yelp reviews straight from the new Kindle Fire app. The experience is also streamlined, taking users directly into our Nearby feature to start searching with one simple click.

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So if you’re in the market for a tablet device, consider treating yourself to a Kindle. And if you’re feeling generous, share the Yelp Kindle love and gift one to a lucky person on your list.