August 06, 2014

Cheers To 10 Years of Yelp!

In summer of 2004, the idea for Yelp was born. Twenty seven countries, fourteen Hackathons, six offices, more than 2,100 employees, thousands of local Yelp events, countless cups of coffee, and two Colbert bumps later, we have officially reached our 10 year milestone. Who would have thought that a simple idea to bring word-of-mouth recommendations online would become a tool used by millions of people worldwide to discover great local businesses?

JeremydarwincollageJeremy and Darwin, 2004 and now

Since Yelp was created, more than 61 million rich, local reviews have been contributed to the site (it would take you about 96 years, 10 months and 20 days to read them all, but don’t worry, that’s why we have review highlights!). To wrap our heads around the depth and breadth of data Yelp has collected over the past decade, we put together an infographic to celebrate our journey - from major milestones, to fun facts, and everything in between.

10yearInfographic_final_largeTen years of Yelp, visualized (click to enlarge)

  • Yelpers love to snap pics, with about 24,000 photos uploaded via Yelp’s mobile apps every day (as of Q2 2014) and the most “photogenic” business being Bottega Louie in Los Angeles
  • It’s no secret that Yelpers love to eat, but they also love to treat themselves to the occasional spa visit. “Nail salon” is one of the top 15 searches on Yelp!
  • We can’t forget about those businesses with a little “local flavor” - in fact, we have a whole category for them. The Corn Palace in South Dakota (quite literally a palace made of corn) claims the #1 spot for “local flavor” in the whole state.

 

Yelp has always been about connecting people both online and off, so we had to ring in the big 1-0 with our dedicated community of Yelpers. Just last weekend, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary in the city where it all started, San Francisco. Yelpers from all around the world flew to the Golden State to be a part of the action. Events were held all weekend long throughout the Bay Area, including a Gold Soirée at our headquarters, attended by our Gold Elite members (that’s Elites who’ve held the coveted badge for five years!).

But the celebration didn’t end there. From Barcelona to Tulsa to Miami and beyond, passionate Yelpers from all around the world came together to celebrate a decade’s worth of Yelping. Over in Philadelphia, outstanding Yelpers and local businesses were awarded “Yelpies,” while other communities, like Yelp Lille, celebrated their respective “burst” days. 

CollageyelpiversaryL to R, clockwise: Philadelphia CM awarding a “Yelpie”; A 10th birthday cake in Lille, France; Tucson Yelpers showing off the #10YearsofYelp love; Posing with some Yelpers at the Gold Soirée in San Francsico

It’s been quite a ride, and we want to give a big thanks to all of you, the Yelpers, for bringing this idea to life. Yelp would not exist without its community of passionate locals who are dedicated to discovering the best of their city and sharing their experiences with others. Thanks for a great first decade. Here's to the next #10YearsOfYelp

July 28, 2014

Introducing the Newest Members of Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council!

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We formed Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council (“YSBAC”) back in 2010 to provide us with input and guidance from our community of local business owners. Today the YSBAC includes 25 active members representing local businesses in five countries and has inspired numerous product and feature developments at Yelp. Over 1,000 small business owners applied to participate in this year’s council and we’re excited to unveil the names of our new, as well as returning, members! The latest edition of YSBAC will include:

*Returning council member.

YSBAC members will participate in regular conference calls to provide input on existing features, policies, products under development, and to brainstorm new ideas. New members will also participate in our annual summit held at Yelp HQ where they’ll meet with Yelp's top executives and department heads to share their perspectives as small business owners.

 

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We strive to work closely with the small business community, and the YSBAC is one of several ways that we do this. We also offer free educational webinars, workshops with our Business Outreach team, and advice for navigating the world of online reviews via our Blog for Business Owners. We look forward to continuing our efforts and developing new ways to help great local businesses close the loop with consumers.

Yelp, Camera, Action: Now Add Videos with Your Yelp Mobile App!

You may have caught wind that Yelp is introducing a feature that will allow users to add short videos that show off aspects like ambiance, lighting, noise level, and other features of local businesses not easily captured by photographs. Well, the wait is over...today that feature is available for Yelpers around the world!

User Video capture and playbackVideo capture and playback of Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, CA through the Yelp iPhone app.

Photos are a great way to add a visual element to your reviews, and Yelpers upload more than 23,000 of them from their mobile apps alone per day. We also know visuals are important to Yelpers since they spend 2.5 times longer on business pages with images than on those without. Now, using your iPhone (and soon Android) Yelp app, you can take short, 3-12 second videos of your favorite local businesses and better capture those details that photos alone can’t.

Worried your video skills are not up to par? We’re not looking for Ken Burns-level documentary filmmaking - it’s actually more helpful to see what a real-life consumer experience looks like without fancy editing or narration. These are not intended to be “video reviews,” but rather an extension of the visual experience. Sound trippy? Here’s what we mean:

These short videos are great for conveying the atmosphere of a business, which helps others anticipate their experience before stopping by. For instance, imagine scrolling through pics of delicious dishes at a new bistro but not really being able to tell if the ambiance is more “date night” or “family friendly.” Yelp video is here to help.

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Live music setting the scene for a night on the town at Tapas y Tapas in Cologne, Germany.

A video can also better convey a business’s space and size with a quick panoramic tour. Doesn’t the Ace Hotel in New York look roomy?

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Settling in to a suite at the Ace Hotel in New York, NY

It can also better highlight some of the unique elements of local businesses that make them truly special. Take Alinea in Chicago for example. You may have heard the famed restaurant features specialized molecular gastronomy fare, but did you realize dinner basically comes with a show, too? That table-side preparation is something else.

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Table-side dish preparation at Chicago’s Alinea.

Along with our millions of rich, local reviews, consumers increasingly rely on the Yelp community’s tips, business attributes, photos, and now videos to help them make better decisions on where to spend their money and which local businesses they want to support. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and put that video feature to good use!

July 24, 2014

Yelp Trends Answers the Age Old Question: Chicken or the Egg?

Since Yelp was founded in 2004, our passionate community has contributed over 57 million rich, local reviews. Now, as Yelp approaches the big 1-0, we’re giving you a peek into our decade’s worth of review content and the ability to unearth trends over time in cities around the world with Yelp Trends.

From food trends to popular slang to short-lived beauty fads (Brazilian blowout anyone?), Yelp Trends searches through words used in Yelp reviews to show you what’s hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off. Our massive wealth of data and the high quality reviews contributed by the Yelp community are what allow us to surface consumer trends and behavior based on ten years of experiences shared by locals around the world. For example, are San Franciscans still sipping PBR or craving craft beer? Is the CrossFit fad still going strong or losing steam? Are Londoners loving bob hairstyles or feeling more fringe (that’s bangs, for you Americans) these days? And every city has its favorite food trucks now, but where did this meals-on-wheels phenomenon first take off?

SF, craftbeer_microbrew_pbrSan Francisco is ditching PBR for craft beer these days

SEATTLE, crossfit_bikram_zumbaThe CrossFit craze is catching on in Seattle

LONDON, bob_hair extensions_fringeHair extensions peaked with Londoners in 2008, bobs were hottest in late 2009, and fringe saw a spike at the beginning of 2014

Compare searches by city to end the “who did it first” debate once and for all. Canada gets credit for creating the poutine craze, but which cities did it spread to first? It may not come as a shock that these gravy-soaked French fries peaked with New Yorkers in 2010, but Angelenos have just begun embracing the trendy menu item in the past couple years.

NY, poutine

LA, poutinePoutine was popular in NYC back in 2007 while LA is just starting to get hooked

With search capabilities in 98 cities throughout 20 countries around the world, there’s virtually no limit to the trends you can uncover. Students and academics can take their trend research a step further and get their hands dirty with Yelp data for their own projects and analysis using Yelp’s Phoenix Academic Dataset. Through the Yelp Dataset Challenge, students can even win $5,000 for creating projects that use our data in insightful, unique, and compelling ways.

From Adelaide to Zurich, use Yelp Trends to explore what Yelpers are loving right now, find out what trends are on the decline, and use Yelp data to discover the next big thing. Oh, and on that chicken and the egg question...I think this settles it once and for all.

SF, chicken and waffles_deviled eggsChicken and waffles took off in San Francisco about a year before deviled eggs started climbing the trend charts

July 15, 2014

Calling All Developers: Yelp’s Revamped API Site Now Open For Business

Yelp’s API, full of rich content about local businesses around the world, has been heavily integrated into some pretty cool projects, including Apple’s iOS and OS X, Yahoo Search, and the Pebble smartwatch. Now, we’re making Yelp data not only more accessible with an increased API call limit of 25,000 per day, but easier to use as well. Click over to the Yelp for Developers website and you’ll see a fresh revamp, complete with a snazzy new interface and clear step-by-step documentation with FAQ and code samples to get your wheels turning on the possibilities of working with Yelp’s API. More good news: Yelp’s open API is available for anyone who wants to develop on it, completely free of charge.

New Yelp Developers Site 7.14.14

Thousands of companies have used Yelp’s API to build local information into their products and services, giving consumers even more access to great Yelp content, like Yelp review snippets, photos, ratings and business listing information. Developers have turned to Yelp because of our trusted, high-quality local data, which, through an empirical study, is shown to be more reliable and consistent than other sources of local data.

Shobeir Shobeiri, Head of Business Development at Pebble says Yelp’s API is “easy to integrate,” with Pebble finding that “people love having access to Yelp businesses, ratings and reviews right on their wrist.” I mean, who wouldn’t want more Yelp in their life?!

Get started by clicking over to yelp.com/developers, where you’ll find more details and examples of innovative API use. Questions? Drop us a line at api@yelp.com.

July 07, 2014

Nielsen Survey Says...Consumers Rank Yelp Most Influential, Most Trustworthy, and with Highest Quality Reviews

Last year, we shared the findings of a Nielsen survey that showed consumers agree with something we’ve known all along: Yelp drives local purchases. The results of that survey were pretty impactful:

  • Virtually all Yelp users (98%) have made a purchase at a business they found on Yelp, with nearly 90% of them doing so within a week

  • 4 out of 5 Yelp users visit Yelp because they intend to buy a product or service

  • Yelp users search on Yelp for everything from restaurants to spas to hotels to locksmiths and everything in between

This year, Nielsen conducted a new survey, polling more than 1,000 US adults who use user reviews sites, and dug further to find the answer to a question business owners have been asking us for years: How does Yelp compare to other online review sites?

The answer: When compared to TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other local directories, people name Yelp as the review site most frequently used when searching for local businesses because they see it as the most influential, most trustworthy and with the highest quality reviews. People chose Yelp:

  • 4.5 times more often than Angie’s List and nearly 3 times more often than TripAdvisor as being the most influential review site when making final purchase decisions

  • Nearly 3 times more often than Angie’s List and nearly 1.5 times more often than TripAdvisor when ranking sites with the most trustworthy reviews

  • 2.5 times more often than Angie’s List when choosing which sites have the best quality reviews

When searching for restaurants specifically, Yelp is named as the most frequently used review site, cited by consumers nearly 3 times as often as OpenTable and almost 4 times as often as Zagat.

Nielsen_infographic_2014_FINAL_2

In addition, 84% of consumers that responded to the survey named user reviews as the most important content on review sites, followed by average star rating at 77%, as well as map/location, business contact information, and business hours. As Yelp has been shown to have industry leading data quality in these areas, it’s understandable that the choice to use our site is an easy one for consumers. And the best part is, business owners can update that information in their Yelp Business Owner Account for free in just a few minutes.

So you don’t have to take our word for it. Consumers agree Yelp is the go-to source for the best info on local businesses.

 

June 23, 2014

Yelp Turns Up the Heat with New App for Amazon Fire Phone

Last week, Amazon announced the release of their new Fire Phone. Yelp was one of a few mobile focused companies selected to partner with Amazon for the launch event. Yelp worked closely with the Amazon team to develop a new Yelp App specifically for the Amazon Fire OS that takes advantage of the unique gesture capabilities and features on the Fire Phone. Partnering with Amazon for this new device allowed us to design and build a new experience to help our users discover and connect with great local businesses. The new Yelp App will be available upon launch of the Amazon Fire Phone AppStore, with the device available for preorder now.

Amazon Fire Phone Yelp app collage 1

Amazon Fire Phone Yelp app collage 2

The new Yelp App for Fire Phone embraces the new capabilities of this innovative device. Some of the new features you’ll find inside the Yelp App for Fire Phone are:

  • Amazon’s Dynamic Perspective technology uses the device’s revolutionary four front-facing cameras to allow Yelpers to scroll through reviews and photos with one hand.

  • The Yelp app also takes advantage of the Fire Phone's One Handed Gesturing. Users can bring up the search box or the menu bar with a flick of the wrist. Slick, huh?

  • Finally, a quicker browsing experience via the Fire Phone’s home carousel. Amazon’s Carousel mode allows Yelpers to navigate quickly back to recently searched and visited business details pages via the home carousel.

 

In addition to building a brand new Yelp App for the Fire Phone, Yelp partnered with Amazon on their new innovative mapping application for the Fire Phone device. As you can see below, Yelp’s rich local review, photo, and rating content has been tightly integrated into the Amazon mapping service. When users are navigating their way through a new city, they can quickly search for a local business and use the integrated Yelp content to help them find that locally-loved Thai restaurant only a few blocks away.

Amazon Fire Phone maps featuring Yelp content. Photos via Amazon.

We are delighted to work with Amazon to make Yelp's rich local content easily accessible to users of Amazon's new Fire Phone, and we are thrilled to be providing the local layer of content for Amazon’s mapping service.

Check out the new Amazon Fire Phone and see the Yelp mapping integration here.

June 17, 2014

Hold the Phone! Now You Can Message Business Owners Directly Through Yelp

With more than 57 million local reviews contributed across 27 countries, there’s already a boatload of info people can gather through Yelp on any local business they’re thinking about trying. Not to mention helpful photos (and soon videos!) and attributes, like phone number, hours and Fido-friendliness. But we realize there are times when a very specific question might not be easily answered with a quick look at a business listing (and you don’t always feel like picking up the phone to inquire about). For instance, whether a restaurant will be serving a special pre-fixe menu for Mother’s Day or what a spa charges for a manzilian very specific treatment for males. So to ensure people never have to leave Yelp to find all the info their hearts desire, we’re adding the ability to message business owners directly from their Yelp listing.

Message the Business Owner 2

While some customers prefer to pick up the phone, others would much rather communicate via a keyboard, so this feature adds one more way to reach out to businesses, while giving business owners another opportunity to close the loop and receive even more leads. Biz owners will receive an email when they get a message from a consumer and can reply directly from that email without even having to log into their business owner’s account. When people click on the “message the business owner” button for a particular business, they’ll be shown the average response time to help them understand when, on average, they might get a response.

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This feature is rolling out for all businesses who have claimed their free business owner’s account and is a great way to get new customer leads from Yelp. As Wade Lombard, founder of Square Cow Movers in Austin, TX puts it, “This feature is a conversation starter. Responding takes just a few minutes and it almost always leads to further correspondence or a phone conversation. We believe that responding quickly helps to show the client we deeply care about winning their business.“ Alternatively, if a business would prefer not to receive written inquiries from potential customers, they can simply disable the feature.

June 13, 2014

Nate Silver Analyzes Yelp Data to Launch Quest for America’s Best Burrito

When the name of renowned statistician, sports fan and burrito enthusiast Nate Silver popped up in our inbox a few months ago, we were all ears! His team had begun planning for a project based on his favorite Mexican indulgence - a bracket to determine the best burrito in America. The goal was to find the one burrito to rule them all, but the challenge was where to begin. With thousands of burrito joints in the U.S., the FiveThirtyEight team had to narrow the playing field down to a mere 64 burrito contenders to kick the contest off and turned to Yelp to help them take a by-the-numbers approach.

Yelp is the source people turn to for the richest data on local businesses of every persuasion, from doctors and dentists to pet groomers and nightclubs, and you can bet your bottom dollar Yelp will surface the best place to get a tasty burrito. Yelp Engineer Ben G. and I worked with FiveThirtyEight to identify attributes that would signal a possible burrito champion and then compiled a list of all the businesses in America that met that criteria, based on reviews contributed by locals countrywide. The FiveThirtyEight team then used their own considerable statistical acumen and the input of their expert selection committee to choose 64 top finalists, representing businesses from Florida to California and everywhere in between. For you data geeks, read the full breakdown of methodology on Nate’s inaugural Burrito Bracket post.

For the Burrito Bracket, the game is just beginning, with the restaurants broken out into four regions of 16 contestants each: California, West, South and Northeast. FiveThirtyEight’s official “Burrito Correspondent,” Anna Maria Barry-Jester, is currently traveling the states getting (probably more than) her fill of stuffed tortilla goodness to determine who Nate Silver’s team will crown the king of burritos at the end of this grueling competition. We know Yelpers have strong opinions about the best local businesses, so be sure to follow the competition on FiveThiryEight.com.

BurritoBracketElFarolitoA nom-worthy photo of the goods at California region #1 seed El Farolito. Photo by Jessica L.

Yelp’s wealth of data has revealed fascinating consumer and business trends through projects like the Yelp Wordmap and our recent Top 100 Places to Eat on Yelp list, and we’re thrilled to provide insight on local businesses for FiveThirtyEight’s Burrito Bracket. We also encourage students and academics to dig in to Yelp data for their own research projects and analysis using Yelp’s Phoenix Academic Dataset. As Nate Silver mentions, there’s still so much to be studied about how people interpret review ratings, how those ratings correlate with a single expert’s tastes, what factors might predict a five-star rating, and lots more. At Yelp, we'd love to learn more about these areas, and you can contribute through the Yelp Dataset Challenge. Students can even win $5,000 for creating projects that use our data in insightful, unique, and compelling ways.

All this burrito talk whetting your appetite? Follow Nate’s lead and tap the Yelp app to find a five-star burrito near you.

June 09, 2014

Yelp ShamROCKS Dublin with Opening of New European HQ

Yelp’s adding a brand new office to the mix and expanding its footprint in Ireland with the opening of a new office space in Dublin! This new office is one of three outside the U.S. (in addition to our London and Hamburg offices), and it’s been given a full Yelp makeover as we continue our European expansion with plans to bring over 100 new jobs to Dublin, including roles in sales, engineering and finance.

The Yelp vibes are strong in this new space, with lots of bright colors, modern design and open work areas primed for collaboration.

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Dublin Yelp Office Collage

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To help us celebrate the arrival of our new addition, Ireland’s Prime Minister, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, stopped by our San Francisco HQ to meet me and the Yelp team, see the city where it all began for Yelp, and share in the good news of our expansion and local job creation in Dublin.

IrishPMVisit

Yelp has been live in Ireland since 2009 (with Community Manager Emily C. reppin’ Dublin!), and this bigger, better outpost is an exciting next step in continuing our European expansion. Interested in joining Yelp’s team in Dublin? Check out our careers page for current job openings and more to come at yelp.com/careers.