May 14, 2014

Attempts to Mislead Consumers? Not On Our Watch!

We have just issued a new round of Consumer Alerts that let people know when we’ve caught a business trying to artificially inflate Yelp reviews. The reason so many people use Yelp is because of the lengths we go to showcase the most helpful and reliable consumer reviews among the millions that we receive. Our recommendation software routinely sifts through mountains of data to highlight the reviews that best reflect the opinions of the Yelp community. We also employ an investigative team to identify and expose people who are actively trying to mislead consumers.

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For example, some businesses try to bias reviews in their favor by incentivizing people to write positive reviews. Our team caught this appliance repair company offering to pay reviewers $15 per review via an ad on Craigslist.

This team also looks for businesses that have received a disproportionate number of spammy reviews, like those that originate from the same IP address. We found more than 245 dubious reviews for Las Vegas-based AAA Anytime Inc and 52 for Philadelphia’s Pets and the City.

So, what’s going on? Unfortunately some businesses are trying to sneak through fake reviews in an effort to boost their reputations on Yelp and other review sites. Others may be encouraging their customers to write reviews from the store, which may not sound all that bad until you ask yourself just how objective you’d be if you were at the dentist’s office and she dropped an iPad on your lap and asked you to write her a quick Yelp review. Solicited reviews are often biased and don’t result in the most accurate overall portrayal of that business. You can also be assured that businesses are almost never asking their unhappy customers for reviews.

We have zero tolerance for those who are trying to manipulate their online reputations in an effort to get ahead of hard-working business owners who are playing by the rules. We encourage businesses to take a hands off approach when it comes to receiving reviews and take advantage of the free suite of tools Yelp provides business owners who are interested in joining the converstaions that are happening about them online.

May 13, 2014

Yelp Reservations: New Free Tool for Businesses Gives Diners Even More Options When Booking Online

Posted by Alex Kvamme

Yelp is not just about discovering great local businesses, it also helps consumers transact with these businesses without ever leaving the site. For instance, someone looking for an amazing massage can book an appointment at a spa directly on the business’ Yelp listing and those in search of a hot new restaurant can book a table in just a few clicks.

Yelp acquired SeatMe last year in order to help more restaurant owners handle online reservations and front-of-house management, and today we’re excited to announce Yelp Reservations, a free tool that allows businesses in the restaurant and nightlife categories to start taking online reservations in minutes!

Business owners can set up the free Yelp Reservations capability through their Yelp Business Owners Account and start filling tables with the millions of people that come to Yelp looking for a great business to try. Consumers can book straight from the Yelp business listing on mobile or desktop and get a text message reminder, as well as the option to cancel or change a reservation by text. A free widget is also available for businesses to add to their own websites to encourage visitors to book a reservation for their restaurant and attract valuable new business.

Yelp Reservations

Yelp already offers the opportunity to book reservations through Yelp SeatMe and OpenTable, but Yelp Reservations is a great option for businesses that aren't big or busy enough yet to need the robust functionality of Yelp SeatMe.

As more restaurants take advantage of this new free tool, expect to see many more options when looking to make an online reservation on Yelp. As of today, this free reservation tool is available to businesses in the restaurant and nightlife categories in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland, and businesses like Quei Bravi Ragazzi in Encinitas, CA are already using the service.

 

Want To Be On Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council?

Yelp’s features and services for small business owners have evolved quite a bit over the last four years thanks, in part, to the efforts of Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council (YSBAC). Since 2010 we’ve regularly met with and solicited feedback from this diverse group of business owners who are selected to represent the greater community of local businesses on Yelp. In case you’re wondering what sort of impact the YSBAC has had over the years, here are a few examples of improvements we’ve made with their help:

  • “Yelp Metrics” were launched to help business owners track customer leads
  • Business owner review comments are now visible on mobile
  • We developed a free “Revenue Estimate” tool to calculate the value of leads from Yelp
  • The “Activity Feed” was created to track when and how Yelp drives customers to businesses
  • More performance based advertising options have been rolled out

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Now the time has come for us to put out the call for new members — all local business owners are welcome to apply! YSBAC members have an opportunity to:

  • Participate in an annual summit at Yelp HQ

  • Provide input on products under development

  • Brainstorm new ideas for Yelp executives to consider

  • Serve as a resource for other business owners who have questions about the services and tools on Yelp

 

We hope you're as excited about the next chapter of YSBAC as we are, and if you’re a business owner with ideas for how Yelp can better serve the business community, we hope you'll consider applying. You can submit your application by clicking here.

May 07, 2014

It’s Time to Tango… Yelp arrives in Argentina!

Es hora de bailar un Tango… Yelp llega a la Argentina!

Durante la Copa del Mundo México 1986, en Argentina se escuchaba fervientemente la voz de Víctor Hugo Morales mientras relataba el gol decisivo de Diego Maradona frente a Inglaterra en lo que sería conocido como “El gol del siglo”. La voz de los argentinos hizo eco del triunfo. Desde hoy, esa voz se vuelve aún más fuerte con el poder de Yelp y el boca en boca de los usuarios en cada rincón del país.

Esta nación de 40 millones de habitantes es un ejercicio de contrastes. Aunque sea la número 214 en densidad de personas, las extensión de sus tierras la hace la octava más grande del mundo. Su montaña Aconcagua es el punto más alto en los hemisferios sur y oeste. Y la Laguna del Carbon es el más bajo. Nada ejemplifica mejor a la Argentina que la rabona, ese maravilloso pase de baile que el tango ofrece, y un lujo futbolístico.

La comida Argentina es un regalo para los fanáticos de la carne. La gente local genera casi un ritual alrededor del asado. Una mezcla de carnes asadas tan amada que es casi un símbolo nacional. Otra tradición local es el mate, una infusión de hierbas con cafeína bebida con una bombilla metálica en un recipiente casero y compartido. (Tip, si te dicen “mirá que no es un micrófono eh”, es hora de pasarlo de manos). Para el postre tenemos el dulce de leche, una reducción de leche azucarada tan versátil que puede ser combinada con casi cualquier cosa.

Yelp está orgulloso de convertirse en una parte de Argentina. Nuestra habilidad para construir comunidades arranca en Buenos Aires. Si estás de shopping por Recoleta, bailando Tango en San Telmo o de recorrida nocturna por Palermo, los Argentinos ahora pueden usar Yelp para conectarse con sus locales favoritos del país.

Ingresen a Yelp.com.ar o bajen nuestra aplicación móvil para empezar a compartir la sabiduría. Los comercios también pueden ser parte de Yelp entrando a biz.yelp.com.ar y así reclamar su negocio como propio para armar su perfil de forma gratuita.

Yelp Argentina Badge Screenshot

It’s Time to Tango… Yelp arrives in Argentina!

During the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, the people of Argentina listened intently to their radios as the voice of Victor Hugo Morales related the events of the tense match against England. When Diego Maradona landed the game-winning Goal Of The Century, the nation raised its voice in triumph. Starting today that voice gets even louder, as Yelp brings the power of word-of-mouth to consumers across the country.

This nation of 40 million people is an exercise in contrasts. Though it is 214th by population density, its sprawling landmass makes it the eighth largest country in the world. Their mountain Aconcagua is the highest point in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres, and the Laguna del Carbon the lowest. Argentina is maybe best exemplified by the rabona: a piece of fancy footwork you can find in the tango — and on a football pitch!

Argentinian food is a treat for carnivores since the locals are almost ritualistic in their consumption of asado: barbecue so beloved it has been exalted to a national symbol by decree. Another Argentinian tradition is mate, a caffeine-rich infusion sipped with a metal straw from a communal gourd (pro-tip: if you are warned, "no es un micrófono," it’s time to pass it on). For dessert, it’s dulce de leche, a sweetened milk reduction you can (and should) drizzle on just about anything.

Yelp is excited to be a part of Argentina, with our community building efforts beginning in Buenos Aires. Whether shopping in Recoleta, tangoing in San Telmo, or bar-hopping in Palermo, Argentinians will now be able to use Yelp to connect with their favorite businesses across the country.

Log on to Yelp.com.ar or download Yelp’s mobile app to start spreading the wisdom. Businesses can get in on the action too at biz.yelp.com.ar by claiming their page for free and building out their profile.

May 06, 2014

Success With Online Reviews Tour = Great Success!

Yelp and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hit the road back in January to educate small business owners across America on what it takes to have success in a world where more consumers are using online reviews to make purchasing decisions.

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We concluded our Success With Online Reviews tour last week in Miami, where we were joined by partners from the Small Business Development Center, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, and 880 AM the Biz radio host, Pete De La Torre, who broadcasted live from the event. Our panelists included Vic Ruiz, owner of Sweet Dogs, the highest rated hot dog joint on Yelp in Miami, and Julio F. of the Miami Yelp Elite squad. Vic told the audience he built his online reputation by focusing on solid customer service and a great product. As he puts it, “I don’t ask for reviews, I let my food speak for itself.” Julio (who has written over 200 reviews) says he’s motivated to write reviews for the same reason many other Yelpers get involved on our site -- a desire to share his experiences with the community in the hopes it helps them find great local businesses.

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From Portland, OR to Atlanta, GA, the Success With Online Reviews tour hit seven major cities and featured two nationally webcasted events. Several thousand small businesses registered for these workshops and attendees walked away with some valuable insights.

Want to learn more but didn’t get a chance to join one of these events? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of opportunities for small business owners to learn valuable online marketing tips. Yelp hosts free webinars every other week which businesses can register for here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Small Business Administration just announced the schedule of events for National Small Business Week which will be held May 12-16, 2014. For future updates on the Success With Online Reviews initiative, be sure to check out www.sba.gov/onlinereviews.

May 05, 2014

Are We There Yet? Seattle & Portland Yelpers Swap Cities for Yelp’s Road Trip

In 120 markets around the world, Yelpers are passionate about trying a new boutique or dive bar and sharing their discoveries online. Part of the fun of being a Yelper is getting to meet others who are equally as excited about finding and sharing their experiences of local businesses. Seattle and Portland Yelpers' enthusiasm for local exploration was on full display last month when they packed their bags, hopped on BoltBus, and ventured across state borders for Yelp’s Road Trip. Community Managers Katy H. and Don B. brought their communities together to do what they do best: explore the amazing shops, eats and hidden gems a city has to offer and mingle with other amazing community members! This road trip goes to show that whether at home or on the road, Yelpers truly share a common bond.

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Seattle and Portland Yelpers hit the road to explore each others’ cities

Hundreds of Yelpers took part in nine different events across each city. In total, over 30 local businesses participated, giving out-of-towners a unique opportunity to mingle with local Yelpers and get a personal introduction to the best businesses in town. Yelpers were exposed to a wide range of unique spots, such as Unexpected Productions, Seattle's oldest improv theater located by the famous gum wall in Pike Place Market. The business certainly had an impact on visiting Portland Elite Jesy B. who recalls, “The quality of the improv with our wildly random suggestions was downright hilarious...They even had a Yelp-themed skit just for us...I'm sure to be back in Seattle & would be remiss not to come back to this place!” Seattle Elite Harsha G. and her +1 loved Portland’s welcoming atmosphere, saying, “...this was our first trip to Portland and the way Don welcomed us and took care of us indicated the general attitude of people here. The stores we went to, coffee shops we hung out in, breweries and cabs we took and yes, the wonderful people at Jupiter - every one of them consistently had this warmth and friendly nature that was great…”

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L to R: Seattle & Portland Yelpers bonding over cocktails / Yelpers munched on Yelpcorn in Seattle / Yelp shades were a necessity on a sunny day / Enjoying sunshine and local eats in Portland

Whether you’re a longtime local resident or an urban explorer, the Yelp community’s expertise can help you uncover hidden gems in your own backyard and guide you to great local businesses in another city. With a presence in 26 countries, 57 million reviews contributed to date, and vibrant Yelp communities all over the globe - we know just the place.

May 01, 2014

Yelp Elite Spotlight: Doreen H. Shares Her Favorite Hamburg Hangouts

On this leg of the Elite Spotlight journey, we’re hopping over to Germany to meet a bubbly Elite who’s always on the lookout for the next best discovery. Join me in saying ‘guten tag’ to Hamburg’s very own Doreen H!

Hamburg Community Manager Mareike Bruns says that Doreen is not only “sweet, witty and fun to be around,” she also “loves to discover her own city and the rest of the world through Yelp.” From her hilarious reviews, like this one of a recent visit to a Thai massage salon, to her contagious personality, Doreen consistently adds color to the Yelp Hamburg community and beyond. Mareike asks, “Could there be a more amazing Elite Yelper?” We’ll let Doreen’s charm speak for itself...

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.19.17 AMPhoto via Doreen H. on Yelp

What does it mean to you to be part of the Yelp Elite Squad?

Being an Elite Yelper has changed the way I look at my city when I walk around town. I now notice places I didn't before and am always on the hunt for new and undiscovered places. My idea of a city map doesn’t only consist of city districts and road maps, but also of burger diners, cafés and romantic spots to take in the sunset. I have made great new Yelper friends and am meeting new and interesting people through Yelp all the time!

What are the top 3 local spots you’re loving in your city right now?

1) You just gotta love Das Porezellanfräulein (translation: "the Porcelain Lady"). Lounging in this cute and old-fashioned tea room, you can get creative by decorating your own ceramics with colorful paintings. You can also sip on a cappuccino or a glass of champagne on the side to help your thoughts and paintings flow freely.

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2) St. Pauli is the perfect place to explore any time of the day. Die Pauline (translation: "Lil' Paula") has something for every hungry tummy! You’ll feel like you're sitting in your mom's dining room as you enjoy a variety of different breakfast options, eat a cheap and yummy meal for lunch, or enjoy a piece of homemade cake while sipping on one of the delicious coffee options. There are also weekly themed buffets that will not fail to surprise or satisfy you! Die Pauline will never disappoint a hungry guest!

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Photo via Pauline on Yelp

3) The trade house Laegel is a must-do for everyone who is passionate about making delicious food! You can find all kinds of handy kitchen utensils and a wide variety of baking dishes, cute aprons, sugar garnishes to please the eye and the taste buds, as well as everything you need to make your own chocolate.

Describe your most memorable Yelp moment.

Wow, that's a tough one! I've had many great moments with Yelp, one of them definitely being when the judges for the "Yelp's crazy ice cream contest" event tried the ice cream I designed and mixed on the spot. It contained cheesecake, matcha and sunflower seed crunchy. I was so excited! I didn't win the contest in the end but I will never forget this event!

Yelp is more than just a restaurant review site. What else have you discovered on Yelp?

Is there anything you can't find on Yelp? I discovered a hole in the ground in the city of Bremen through Yelp that will reward you by making animal sounds once you throw a coin into it - no kiddin'! I’ve also found a café where the main activity isn’t drinking coffee or eating cake, but knitting with other fellow wool-lovers! Lastly, I found it comforting to discover that most of my Yelp contacts are just as crazy about food and addicted to enjoying exciting culinary delicacies as I am!

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Now that’s what we call local flavor! Drop a coin into the Bremer Loch in Bremen and you’ll be rewarded with an animal noise. Photo via Die Zwei M. on Yelp.

 

 

Continue reading "Yelp Elite Spotlight: Doreen H. Shares Her Favorite Hamburg Hangouts " »

April 28, 2014

Now on Yelp: Businesses that Accept Bitcoin

There’s a lot of information consumers can gather from the more than 53 million reviews that have been submitted to Yelp, but there are also times when people simply need to know some basic information before they decide to visit a local business.

Does the restaurant deliver?

Is that mechanic open?

What’s the dentist’s phone number?

Does the bowling alley accept credit cards?

Is it friendly for dogs?

Does the place have a “hipster” ambience?

Did this restaurant receive an “A” grade in its latest hygiene inspection?

All of these questions have something in common: they can be answered with a glance at a Yelp business listing.

We’re constantly thinking about how to make our business attributes more useful for consumers and businesses. That’s why we’re excited to announce that as of today, we’re adding a new attribute: “Accepts Bitcoin: Yes”

For an example of what it looks like, check out Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts in Austin:

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As a business owner, you can let your customers know you’re accepting Bitcoin by logging into your free business owner tools on biz.yelp.com and updating your payment attributes.

Why does this matter? For those who haven’t heard the buzz about Bitcoin, it’s a new payment technology that allows consumers and businesses to make fast, secure and low-cost digital payments from any Internet-enabled device. Bitcoin also allows for consumers and businesses to transact without having to store sensitive data like a credit card number. Finally, like cash, Bitcoin's transactions are one-way, so businesses don't have to worry about chargebacks.

We’re hopeful the introduction of the Bitcoin attribute will provide yet another way for consumers to connect with great local businesses.

April 24, 2014

Yelp Deals & Gift Certificates are Available in Canada Now, Eh?

When we launched Yelp Deals in 2011, we wanted to provide consumers with a great benefit - discounts at local businesses they were already searching for online. We know a whopping 82% of Yelp users turn to the site when they’re already planning to spend money, and finding a great deal on an oil change or fitness class is just one more reason to search Yelp before you buy. As of today, our neighbors to the north can join the party and start racking up savings at great local businesses in all categories with the launch of Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates in Canada.

More than 80,000 Yelp Deals are live on our site, offering consumers the opportunity to save on everything from spa treatments to moving services. In fact, the bestselling Yelp Deal to date is an offer from a moving company in Los Angeles that has saved money for the more than 1,800 people who have taken advantage of the $20 for $50 deal (that's more than $55,000 saved through just one offer!). Those customers, and those that have purchased one of the one million plus Yelp Deals sold to date, are not only getting a great deal, they’re also helping small businesses thrive by pledging to spend their money locally. While you’re at it, there’s also plenty of opportunity to share the gift of a five-star local experience with a lucky someone with over 40,000 Yelp Gift Certificates available.

For consumers looking to get in on this action, it’s easy to filter Yelp search results on the website and mobile app to see businesses offering a Yelp Deal. Go ahead, give it a whirl. More and more Deals will be available in Canada as this feature is utilized by Canadian business owners, like Mink Makeup & Hair in Vancouver, who is catching the eye of anyone looking for a makeup artist with a compelling $50 for $75 deal.

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Mink Gift Certificate Canada
For business owners wanting to attract new customers, setting up a Yelp Deal or Gift Certificate is super simple and takes only a few minutes. Start here, and give people searching on Yelp an additional reason to try your business over the competition.

April 08, 2014

Kimono’ver, Yelp has launched in Japan!

ついにYelpが日本に上陸!

サンフランシスコのYelp本社から太平洋を横断して5,144マイルほど進んだら、どこにたどり着くでしょうか? そう、沢山の島々(正確には6,852の島)が集まってできた国、日出づる国で知られる、日本です! 日本といえば、アジア大陸の玄関口として、そして驚くべき科学技術と素晴らしい文化を持った国として知られていますよね。 さらに、これから日本は、Yelpが上陸する26カ国目の国としても知られることになるでしょう!

日本の人口は1億2,600万人を超え、世界で10番目に人口の多い国です。日本はアメリカと中国に次ぐ第三のGDPを誇り、任天堂、シャープ、東芝やソニーなど、世界の電化製品を支える会社の本社が存在する、エレクトロニクス産業国でもあるのです。なるほど、そう考えると日本には世界最古の企業(なんと創業1400年以上!)があるというのも頷けますね。

日本人は息抜きの仕方だってちゃんと心得ています。 時にカラオケボックスで大騒ぎしたり、 コスプレレストランでディナーを楽しんだり、森林浴でリラックスしたり。日本の国民的スポーツ、野球を観て過ごすのも大好きです。それから、動物愛好家が多いこの国には、子供の数よりペットの数の方が多いんですって。でも、ペットがいない人も心配ご無用。いつでも猫カフェで、疲れた心を癒せますからね!

Yelpは日本の首都であり世界最大の主要都市である東京と、日本の経済中枢部である大阪に着目。本日より、Yelpの日本サイトを一般公開し、利用いただけるようになりました! ビンテージのお店クラフトショップアートギャラリー、100円均一ショップなどなど、お手持ちのスマートフォンやウェブサイトから簡単に、日本全国のローカルビジネスにアクセスし、あなたのお気に入りを見つけることが出来ます!

皆さん、早速、Yelp.co.jp にログイン、もしくはYelpのモバイルアプリをダウンロードして下さいね! ビジネスオーナーの皆様もbiz.yelp.co.jpから無料で店舗登録し、プロフィールを作成してYelpをご活用下さい。

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If you skipped a stone from Yelp’s SF headquarters some 5,144 miles across the Pacific Ocean, what would you find? An archipelago of islands (6,852 of them to be exact) known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Not merely a gateway to the Asian continent, Japan is a technological and cultural marvel — and the 26th nation to enter the Yelp fold.

With over 126 million people, Japan is the tenth most populated country on the planet, and economically speaking, it’s no shrinking cherry blossom. Only the US and China have a greater nominal GDP, and Japan touts an unparalleled electronics industry with companies like Nintendo, Sharp, Toshiba, and Sony headquartered there. It’s no wonder that Japan was home to the world’s oldest continuously operated business (which ran for over 1,400 years)!

But hey, the Japanese know how to let off some steam too! You’ll find them belting away in a karaoke box, noshing down at a cosplay restaurant, forest bathing, getting tipsy with crab-like monsters, or enjoying their favorite sport, baseball. This nation of animal lovers also has more pets than children, but the petless need not worry: you can always snuggle up at a cat cafe!

Yelp’s efforts will begin in Tokyo, the largest metropolis on Earth, and Osaka, the country’s economic nerve center. And starting today, all of Japan can use Yelp to find their favorite local businesses: vintage stores, craft shops, art galleries, even ‘100 yen shops’ — all from their smartphone or the web.

Log on to Yelp.co.jp or download Yelp’s mobile app to start spreading the wisdom. Businesses can get in on the action too at biz.yelp.co.jp by claiming their page for free and building out their profile.