« January 2014 | Main | March 2014 »

February 2014

February 28, 2014

Yelp Consumer Alerts: We Weren’t Fooled, but Thought You Should Know

As a consumer, would you want to know if someone was trying to mislead you? We know we would. This is exactly why we introduced our Consumer Alerts program back in 2012: to warn people when we see brazen attempts to manipulate ratings and reviews - either by purchasing or incentivizing people for positive reviews or writing a bunch of reviews from the same IP address (a helpful indicator that they may lack authenticity). While our recommendation software does a great job weeding out unreliable reviews so you don't have to, our investigation team is also always on the job. Yesterday we issued a new round of Consumer Alerts warnings in connection with a handful of businesses. 

Yelp Consumer Alert 3
An example of the evidence we've collected for one business.

We normally remove alerts after 90 days, but we won’t hesitate to renew them if we continue to see suspicious activity. That’s exactly what happened for two businesses this time around. We again found something amiss with two of the locations for Chicago-based nail salon, Azure Nails. And someone was caught red-handed yet again trying to buy reviews for Evergreen Carpet Cleaning in Los Angeles.

This type of activity not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules. Yelp’s main line of defense is our automated recommendation software which works behind the scenes at all times to recommend reliable and useful reviews. It’s unfortunate that some people are so set on gaming the system (and misleading consumers) that the additional step of posting Consumer Alerts is necessary. That said, we take our responsibility of providing trusted information very seriously, and we’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that Yelp remains helpful to consumers.  

February 26, 2014

Yelp Data Reveals Top 100 Places to Eat: Bookmark These Babies Now!

Remember those lofty goals you made this time last month to eat better? Ha, we don't either. So now that we've all thrown those resolutions out the window, let's talk about the spots Yelpers have deemed the ultimate, try-before-you-die, food-coma-inducing, so-good-it-makes-you-want-to-slap-your-momma places to eat across the globe. Add these babies to your Yelp bookmarks STAT and worry about that unused gym membership later.

From cheap eats to $$$$, food stands to Michelin stars, this list runs the gamut of dining experiences. Leave it to Yelpers to be in-the-know on the spots you’ve heard buzz about (like the fabled Le Bernardin at #45 and Chicago’s molecular gastronomy masterpiece Alinea at #7), and unearth hole-in-the-wall joints the locals would love to keep secret (a food stand serving only sweet potatoes at #54, or the hot dog cart with reindeer, elk and rattlesnake options in Denver at #12).

Best places to eat yelp collage
Clockwise from top left: dishes from Le Bernardin, Da Poke Shack, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, and Alinea

How’d we make a list so all-encompassing? We dug in to our wealth of rich data to see what the numbers told us about which places Yelpers really love. Engineers on Yelp’s data mining team used a technique based on the Wilson Score to compile a list of highly rated places to eat. This method takes into account both star rating and number of reviews to reveal which spots not only have top notch ratings, but also which are most popular in the Yelp community.

Without further ado, we present 100 must-try spots in the US to get your #nomnom on. And don’t think we forgot about the other 23 countries where Yelp has a presence. Community Managers abroad shared a few hand-picked suggestions of places their locals love for both the cheap and spendy price points to make this munch-fest a global experience. Don’t say we didn’t warn you if your stomach starts to growl.

 

Continue reading "Yelp Data Reveals Top 100 Places to Eat: Bookmark These Babies Now!" »

February 25, 2014

An Open Letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

 

Dear Governor Brewer:

I write to express my concern about SB 1062 and to respectfully request that you veto this legislation.

At the heart of Yelp’s mission is giving consumers the ability to find great local businesses.

Protecting the consumer has been - and will continue to be - our main priority. I believe that every consumer has a right to be served by a business without fear of discrimination. The language of this proposed law would set a dangerous precedent that would allow businesses in Arizona to discriminate against consumers. This is not only wrong, but taints the otherwise stellar reputation of Arizona as a state that excels in attracting new businesses.

SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated - or whether they would even be served - when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.

When Yelp originally decided to open an office in Arizona it did so because we believed that the state provided a welcoming business environment. I hope that you will continue to nurture such an environment in the state by vetoing SB 1062.

 

Sincerely,

Jeremy Stoppelman

CEO, Yelp

February 21, 2014

Local San Francisco Businesses Star in New Yelp Visuals

As a seven-year Yelp Elite, Angella S. knows her way around a Yelp review. Her passion for vegetarian fare and yoga have led her to review favorites like Urban Flow Yoga in San Francisco, as well as a long list of other neighborhood finds. Community members like Angella are the magic ingredient that makes Yelp so useful for consumers all around the world. By sharing their local expertise, these Yelpers help others find exactly what they’re looking for - be it a relaxing day spa or the goldmine of a thrift store hiding right around the corner - and feel confident when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money.

You might be seeing more of Angella, as she is the star of our second round of Yelp visuals, which are currently making the rounds online and in local communities to help consumers discover the power of Yelp. Here’s the story behind the local San Francisco businesses that played host to her photo shoot, demonstrating a few scenarios where Yelp seriously comes in handy:  

WKJTP_Angella_Travel_AdventuresTasting_horiz_lowres

Finding a local-approved spot in a new city can be challenging without Yelp as your guide. Angella bellied up to the wine bar at Press Club for a glass of vino. With review highlight “after work” mentioned in 56 reviews, locals agree this spot is the perfect place to take a load off after a long day in the office.

WKJTP_Angella_HiddenGem_horiz_lowres

Sometimes the best finds are ones you weren’t even looking for. Yelp helps you discover hidden gems, like Flora Grubb, a local nursery and “plant heaven” according to Angella, whose orchid game was seriously improved by a visit to this “enchanting” garden tucked away in an industrial neighborhood.

WKJTP_Angella_LongTail_NewLook_horiz_lowres

With important purchases and infrequent needs, a quick look on Yelp can ease any worries and help you find just the place, like our third stop Hair Play, to wrangle that messy mop into a strut-worthy do. Angella wouldn’t trust anyone but her mane man Fritz at Hair Play with her locks.

Now that you’ve got the scoop on the local businesses that provided the beautiful backdrops in Angella’s photo shoot, follow her lead and let Yelp help you discover your new favorite nail salon or dive bar. With so much local info at your fingertips, who knows where you’ll end up.

 

February 13, 2014

Why Do You Yelp? New Elite Advisory Council Shares Their Stories

Our exceptional Yelp Elite members are what make our site such an invaluable resource for discovering what’s great about local businesses. Yelp’s goal has always been to create the best user experience possible for our community, both on and offline so, naturally, we thought, who better to help us continue to improve upon our site than some of our most engaged Yelpers? Our inaugural Advisory Council For Really Outstanding National Yelp Members—otherwise known as ACRONYM (wink, wink)—visited Yelp HQ last week to share some insight on building Yelp communities from a local’s perspective.

ACRONYM is a select group of local Yelp Elites in cities where we have a growing Yelp community. It was tough to choose just 11 out of thousands of great Elites, but we ended up with a group of ACRONYMers who we felt could offer insightful feedback on their hometowns and help us take the Yelp community program to the next level. These passionate Elites are prime examples of Yelp’s power to connect people with great local businesses in small towns as well as bustling cities. At the summit, the council members weighed in on everything from Yelp.com feature improvements to community events.

Elite ACRONYM Summit group photo
Elites exploring San Francisco during the ACRONYM summit at Yelp HQ

Get to know the ACRONYM Elites in this video, and learn what Yelp means to them and the important role it plays in helping them discover and share the best of their cities.

Just like our Yelp Small Business Advisory Board culls feedback from small business owners worldwide, the ACRONYM group gives us a direct line to insight from those who use Yelp most often. Thanks to this group for volunteering their time!

2014 ACRONYM Elite Council Members

Albany, NY - Josh K.

Anchorage, AK - Angie M.

Asheville, NC - Kipper S.

Bakersfield, CA - McKenzie S.

Boise, ID - Ophelia S.

Eugene, OR - James L.

Fresno, CA - Tamia G.

Grand Rapids, MI - Amanda S.

Knoxville, TN - Channa P.

Savannah, GA - Steve V.

Wilmington, NC - Amanda H.

February 11, 2014

Yelp's New Interface in Your Face!

If you’ve visited Yelp today to find a local business in your neighborhood, you probably noticed quite the facelift! We’re excited to introduce Yelp’s new look and our brand new business pages—re-imagined, re-designed and re-engineered from the ground up.

You’ll notice our new design emphasizes the unique local content our community has contributed and makes finding key business information even easier for consumers. While we’ve improved every element on the business page, we thought we’d highlight just a few of the key changes that we think you’re gonna love!

Snapshot Yelp Business Listing

Since photos are used to determine an incredible amount about a business, the new design puts them front and center. Instead of a small thumbnail, we’re featuring up to six big, beautiful photos of the business. Now a quick glance at a restaurant’s page can give you a feel for the dining experience, food quality and ambiance, all within mere seconds.

Yelp’s review highlights give you a birds-eye-view of our community’s favorite elements of a business. Because review highlights are so useful, we’ve given them a huge upgrade, mining our review data to call out the best menu items, prices and important information like whether a bar is beer and wine only. Looks like we should head to Tataki South during happy hour, try the Garlic Edamame to start and order the one-of-a-kind Extinguisher Roll (yum!).

Snapshot Yelp Review Highlights

Yelpers have contributed more than 53 million reviews to date, so of course we couldn’t leave this important section untouched. Since Yelp’s rich content is so valuable in helping people make spending decisions, we adjusted the column width and font size for optimal readability, while adding large photos in-line to give further context to a Yelper’s experience. Whoa, look at that flame in Allison’s photo—now we know why they call it the Extinguisher Roll!

Snapshot Yelp Review with Photos

Whether it’s finding a restaurant for a special occasion, a doctor for an important health question or a reliable place to rent a car for a weekend trip—we’re always looking for ways to make it even easier to connect people with great local businesses. With 120 million unique visitors turning to Yelp each month (on average as of Q4 2013), we hope these changes will make it even easier to do just that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s happy hour at Tataki South, gotta run!