November 01, 2016

Why Solicited Reviews are Harmful and What Businesses Can Do Instead

Today, we’re activating over 150 Consumer Alerts to let people know that we’ve caught businesses involved in attempts to deceive them. From a dental practice offering $15 credits for positive reviews to a spa offering refunds for removal of negative reviews, and a vacation company running a contest for $100 gift cards in exchange for reviews, these businesses are attempting to manipulate their reputation online, and that’s not good for consumers or for other businesses who have justly earned their reputations on Yelp without resorting to these sort of schemes.   

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In addition to violating Yelp’s Terms of Service, posting a testimonial without revealing you’ve been compensated can also violate FTC guidelines because it deceives consumers.

If you have evidence suggesting that someone is trying to artificially inflate a business’ rating, please let us know. Yelp relies on Community tips to catch businesses that aren’t playing by the rules.

If you are a business owner considering asking for or offering incentives for reviews, instead try these tips to engage with potential customers:

  1. Claim your free business user account at biz.yelp.com. Verify your contact info, add beautiful photos, and tell consumers a little about yourself. Business pages with more photos and a complete profile get more traffic and reviews than those without.
  2. Focus on great customer service both on and offline. Our data shows that reviews mentioning “good customer service” are five times as likely to be five star reviews.
  3. Respond to your reviews within 24 hours using Yelp’s free suite of tools. Whether the review is positive or negative, respond the exact same way you would communicate with a customer who was standing in front of you in your business. A prompt diplomatic response is more likely to turn around a negative reviewer and keep positive reviewers engaged.
  4. No matter what type of business you own, grow your business with Yelp’s tools to help you drive transactions with your customers, like Request A Quote, .
  5. Use check-in offers to attract attention to your Yelp page.
  6. Tell your customers that you’re on Yelp (online and in person). In-store signage as well as including Yelp widgets in email signatures and on business cards are all ways you can let customers know about your presence on Yelp without pressuring them for a review.

Engage with your local community manager, if there’s one in your area. They can provide tips for maximizing your Yelp listing or hosting events that can connect you with local Yelpers.

February 18, 2016

Yelp Partners with Sprinklr to Bring Hyperlocal Social Analytics to Local Businesses

As of today, Yelp is partnering with social media monitoring platform Sprinklr to offer businesses the ability to monitor their Yelp reviews and analyze sentiment for the first time. Already an industry leader, this partnership sets Sprinklr apart as the only social insights company to have official access to Yelp review analysis.

Why is this big news? Because Yelp data is the ultimate resource for local business intelligence and up-to-the-moment intel on consumer feedback, and this partnership gives a never-before-seen look at this data that is enormously helpful to brands trying to improve their customer service and product. Yelp data is already used to power local info in the auto industry, search engines, and hundreds of apps and services because we have better quality, more in depth intel than anybody in the business.

Sprinklr will use Yelp data, in addition to 20+ other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to help large brands, like David’s Bridal and Outback Steakhouse, better understand what their customers are saying online. In addition, Sprinklr allows large brands to understand how conversations are trending over time, either positively or negatively, and exactly how customers feel about specific aspects of a businesses’ locations, such as service, decor, facilities, value, and more. They mine Yelp review text to create word clouds and sentiment scores, among other tools. Businesses around the world, both large brands and local, can now take advantage of this holistic monitoring ability through Sprinklr.

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For businesses who want to join the conversation with their customers and engage with them directly, we recommend claiming your Yelp pages, responding to reviews and adding photos and business information. Whether you’ve got one location or many, get started at biz.yelp.com.

Want to learn more about Sprinklr’s offerings? What are you waiting for?! Check them out at sprinklr.com.

Are you a social monitoring or analytics company looking to partner with us? Let us know at bd@yelp.com.

February 11, 2016

New York Attorney General Prosecutes Fake Reviews and Validates Yelp’s Own Efforts

Today, the Office of the New York Attorney General announced that it took action against several businesses that tried to mislead consumers through paid, fake reviews, also known as astroturfing. We applaud these efforts, which further demonstrate that deceptive reviews are a form of false advertising and therefore subject to prosecution.

These actions of the NY AG also highlight Yelp's leading efforts to protect consumers and honest business owners from unscrupulous scammers.

We’ve placed a high priority on protecting consumers from fake reviews since day one, and years ago took action to put an end to the misleading practices of several of the businesses now targeted by the NY AG, including Rani Spa, ESIOH Marketing, and Premier Retail Group (aka Infinite Beauty).

Through Yelp’s advanced recommendation software and Consumer Protection Initiative that includes undercover investigations, Consumer Alert program, and legal enforcement efforts, we’ve been able to mitigate the effect of these bad actors. We filed legal action in 2013 against James McNulty, the internet scammer paid by Rani Spa, which led to his admission that Yelp’s recommendation software had foiled his attempts to place fake reviews. ESIOH Marketing halted their services and took down their website in response to our demands in 2014, and Yelp caught Premier Retail Group (aka Infinite Beauty) soliciting reviews on Craigslist the same year, which resulted in us removing many paid reviews and closing associated user accounts.

The sad reality is that some businesses will always be tempted to try to game the system, which is why Yelp is committed to continuing our efforts and leading the industry in an aggressive stance against astroturfers. We commend the work here of the New York Attorney General and hope to see other regulators follow their lead.

February 10, 2016

Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2016: Fast Track to a Food Coma

Ahh, eating. One of life’s simple pleasures, and a human experience that transcends cultures and language barriers. The pursuit of good food has the power to bring all kinds of people in all kinds of places together in a shared mission....to stuff our faces with the best damn thing we can find to eat!

We should know. Millions of people use Yelp in more than 30 countries to search for and share experiences at all kinds of restaurants, food stands, delis, izakayas, food trucks, and more. Not to mention barber shops, dog groomers, real estate agents...but we’re talking about food here. Focus!

Yelp’s list of Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2016 honors businesses that rank so highly in the Yelp community’s opinion that they have earned the status of “must try within this lifetime.” From fancy to casual, long time favorite to new up-and-comer, barbecue to udon, this list runs the gamut of gastronomical experiences. And that’s the way we like it; a list as quirky and interesting and unique as the Yelp Community itself. Sometimes you want a white tablecloth experience, and sometimes a sandwich on the run hits the spot.

Top 100 us collage 2Top: A selection of sweets from #1 spot Porto’s Bakery and Cafe in Burbank, CA. Bottom row, left to right: A sandwich from #3 Paseo and the Seattle skyline, pizza from #2 Cheese Board Pizza with Berkeley in the background, and poke from #15 Da Poke Shack on the beach in Hawaii. Delicious food + beautiful view...I’m sensing a pattern.

Friends, bookmark this list. Use it as your guide to food greatness in 2016. For the extra ambitious, maybe you can hit up all 100 before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. But if you don’t get all the way through this list, rest assured these spots will likely be open for business for a good long time. How do we know? Because Yelp drives customers like you through the doors of businesses that work hard to earn a great reputation.

Did we overlook something stellar? Talk about this list on social using #YelpTop100, and let us know what you think. Remember, we only know how good a spot is if people take the time to review it, so share your wisdom on Yelp, and maybe your faves will appear on a future list!

Head over to Yelp’s blog for business owners to see the Top 100 Places to Eat in Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia!

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Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2016

Businesses marked with 🔥 are Hot & New, meaning they’ve made our list for the first time and were first listed on Yelp within the last two years.

Businesses that take order/delivery through Yelp are marked.

1. Porto's Bakery & Cafe, Burbank, CA (1)

2. Cheese Board Pizza, Berkeley, CA

3. Paseo, Seattle, WA

4. Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City, KS

5. TKB Bakery & Deli, Indio, CA

6. Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA

7. The Morrison, Los Angeles, CA

8. Mama D's Italian Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA

9. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX

10. Marukame Udon, Honolulu, HI

11. Cream Pan, Tustin, CA

12. Dametra Cafe, Carmel, CA

13. Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix, AZ

14. Ono Seafood, Honolulu, HI

15. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI

16. Los Agaves, Santa Barbara, CA

17. Tacos El Gordo, Chula Vista, CA

18. Bogart's Smokehouse, Saint Louis, MO

19. Alinea, Chicago, IL

20. Joe's Falafel, Los Angeles, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

21. Baguette Cafe, Las Vegas, NV

22. Halls Chophouse, Charleston, SC

23. Aviva by Kameel, Atlanta, GA

24. Ike's Place, San Francisco, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

25. Adobo Taco Grill, Lakewood, CA 🔥

26. Kokkari Estiatorio, San Francisco, CA

27. Mr BBQ, Fullerton, CA 🔥

28. El Dorado Cantina, Las Vegas, NV *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

29. Pappy's Smokehouse, Saint Louis, MO

30. T Deli, San Diego, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

31. Oscar's Mexican Seafood, San Diego, CA

32. Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY

33. Screen Door, Portland, OR

34. Le Bernardin, New York, NY

35. Mama's Fish House Restaurant, Paia, HI

36. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Pittsburgh, PA

37. Gen Korean BBQ House, Cerritos, CA (2)

38. Girl & the Goat, Chicago, IL

39. Langer's, Los Angeles, CA

40. Los Tacos No.1, New York, NY

41. Bakery Nouveau, Seattle, WA

42. Sushi Ota, San Diego, CA

43. Istanbul Grill California, Fountain Valley, CA

44. Mr. Mamas, Las Vegas, NV

45. Arun's Indian Kichen, Coral Springs, FL *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

46. Cochon Butcher, New Orleans, LA

47. Coop's West Texas Barbeque, Lemon Grove, CA

48. Kenny's Wood Fired Grill, Dallas, TX

49. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami Beach, FL

50. Beach Break Cafe, Oceanside, CA

51. Johnny Pacific, Winnetka, CA

52. Outlaws Cafe, Van Nuys, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

53. Lou's Cafe, San Francisco, CA

54. Los Andes Restaurant, Providence, RI

55. Arizmendi Bakery, San Francisco, CA

56. Lahaina Grill, Lahaina, HI

57. The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

58. Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken, Memphis, TN

59. Uchi, Austin, TX

60. Rockfire Grill, Mission Viejo, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery 🔥

61. El Chato Taco Truck, Los Angeles, CA

62. Zahav, Philadelphia, PA

63. Helena's Hawaiian Food, Honolulu, HI

64. Sal, Kris, & Charlie's Deli, Astoria, NY

65. Providence, Los Angeles, CA

66. Zacatecas Restaurant, Hawthorne, CA

67. Monell's Dining & Catering, Nashville, TN

68. Phil's BBQ, San Diego, CA

69. Per Se, New York, NY

70. Daniel, New York, NY

71. Yoshino Japanese Deli, Carlsbad, CA

72. Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY

73. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, Los Angeles, CA

74. Cafe Rolle, Sacramento, CA

75. Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Houston, TX (3)

76. Musubi Cafe Iyasume, Honolulu, HI

77. Wally's Cafe, Emeryville, CA

78. Mastro's Steakhouse Beverly Hills Penthouse, Beverly Hills, CA

79. Neptune Oyster, Boston, MA

80. Oyster Bar, Las Vegas, NV

81. Pike Place Chowder, Seattle, WA

82. The Halal Guys, New York, NY

83. The Codmother Fish and Chips, San Francisco, CA

84. Shark Pit Maui, Lahaina, HI

85. Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, Saint Helena, CA

86. Genwa Korean BBQ, Los Angeles, CA

87. Little Lucca Sandwich Shop & Deli, South San Francisco, CA *Yelp Eat24 Order/Delivery

88. Bobby Q, Phoenix, AZ

89. Umeke's, Kailua-Kona, HI

90. Root Down, Denver, CO

91. Tar & Roses, Santa Monica, CA

92. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop, Lahaina, HI

93. The Waffle Window, Portland, OR

94. Café Besalu, Seattle, WA

95. Roxie Food Center, San Francisco, CA

96. Blues City Deli, Saint Louis, MO

97. Uchiko, Austin, TX

98. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf, Chicago, IL

99. 39 Degrees, Long Beach, CA

100. DishDash, Sunnyvale, CA

 

Footnotes

(1) Two other Porto’s locations ranked in the Top 100: Porto’s Glendale, and Porto’s Downey

(2) One other Gen Korean BBQ location ranked in the Top 100: Gen Korean BBQ Rowland Heights

(3) One other Chama location ranked in the Top 100: Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse Downers Grove

Let’s review the nuts and bolts of how this thing got made by Yelp’s data science team, who combed through millions of data points to make it possible for us to share this list with you.

Methodology:

To determine Yelp’s Best Places to Eat in 2016, we analyzed which places were the all-time most popular and well reviewed on Yelp. Businesses from across the country were compared using a ranking that looks at both the ratings and the number of reviews while accounting for quality, popularity, and statistical fluctuations. To localize the list, only reviews written by users whose profiles list their home location as within the reviewed businesses’ country were factored into the ranking. Businesses must be primarily a restaurant or place to eat a meal to be included on the list and must abide by Yelp’s Terms of Service and Content guidelines. If a business with multiple locations appears more than once on the list, we keep the highest ranked location and mention the others in a footnote. Unlike our list from last year, which unearthed the best places to eat on Yelp based primarily on their performance in recent years, this year’s list looks at performance since the founding of Yelp in 2004. This list is a combination of classic favorites and new up-and-comers that garnered lots of positive attention. Businesses marked as "Hot & New" both made our Top Places to Eat list for the first time and were added to Yelp within the last two years.

February 04, 2016

Yelp Extortion Conspiracy Theory Debunked…Again

Sometimes people claim Yelp gives more favorable ratings to businesses who advertise on our platform, and some even allege that Yelp threatens to manipulate ratings and reviews of those who don't advertise. These claims are of course false and have already been scrutinized by courts of law, academic studies, and a closed FTC investigation. They are sensational, however, and the media has often repeated them at face value without doing any investigating or even real reporting. Until today.

Greg Sterling, a well-known analyst and thought leader in the small business/local marketing space, recently heard these claims first hand from a plumber he hired. The plumber insisted that a Yelp sales rep had told him his reviews on Yelp would suffer if he didn't buy advertising. Instead of just accepting and repeating this conspiracy theory, Greg contacted Yelp and asked us why the business owner might say such a thing.

In response, we invited Greg into our office to listen to the recordings of every sales call made to the plumber in question going back several years. (Yelp records the employee side of sales calls.) What did he find? As Greg writes:

There was nothing that sounded like a threat or any suggestion that reviews would be removed or otherwise altered by Yelp if the guy didn’t advertise. There wasn’t anything that could be construed as even implying that.

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Over the course of three years, Yelp sales representatives logged 28 calls lasting at least 30 seconds with this business owner.

We knew that. And it's nice Greg now knows that, too, and that he was able to contribute some balanced perspective. You can read Greg’s full account here.

February 01, 2016

Yelp Consumer Alerts: We Take the Guesswork out of Online Reviews

For nearly twelve years, we at Yelp have been working around the clock to promote consumer trust. At the heart of this mission is the belief that consumers need access to reliable information before deciding where to spend their hard-earned money.

Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative has produced a variety of programs that empower and protect consumers. Our LIVES open data standard integrated restaurant health scores onto business pages. Our ProPublica partnership incorporated health care statistics onto the Yelp business pages of medical treatment facilities at the beginning of. Late last year, we issued Reputation Warnings to more than 100 businesses associated with Movers Alliance, a group of moving companies caught engaging in shady business tactics.

One of the most important programs within Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative is our Consumer Alert Program, which exposes attempts to manipulate business ratings and reviews. This week, we’re releasing a new round of alerts in connection with 37 different business listings. The consumer alerts will be in effect for 90 days.

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Consider these examples:

  • Before hiring Terrie L Culver & Associates, a law firm in Chicago, you’d probably want to know that the firm was caught offering to pay someone to remove a negative review.
  • How about considering the thought of sending your child to their first swim lesson at Gold Medal Swim School in Chandler, Arizona without knowing that we found the business offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews?
  • Likewise, you might think twice before hiring 495 Movers in Rockville, Maryland for your cross-country move if you knew that we caught them promising major bucks to a former customer if they would remove their negative review of the company.

 

In some cases, these efforts to manipulate consumer trust are forms of false advertising which can lead to prosecution and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The bottom line is that Yelp has your back. We’re constantly looking for ways to ensure the integrity of the information available to consumers, including acting on tips from our community of users to help us track down suspicious behavior. If you see something on Yelp or elsewhere that might seem fishy, please let our investigators know.

 

January 28, 2016

Community Votes Call It: $750,000 in Grants Go to Nonprofits Through Yelp Foundation Gives Local Contest

After two weeks of voting in 75 markets across the US, more than 160,000 votes were cast in the Yelp Foundation Gives Local grant contest, and we have a winner! A lot of them, actually. With three nonprofits in each market receiving grants, that’s 225 organizations that are receiving grants totaling $750,000. Read on for the full list.

Yelp Foundation Gives Local hands

It’s amazing to see how passionate community members are about the work these charities do. We saw a ton of talk on the #YFGivesLocal hashtag, with locals sharing who they voted for and nonprofits spreading the good news about their nomination. Each one in their own way supports the Yelp Foundation’s mission of addressing the needs of local communities including: access to information, education, local economic development, and freedom of expression. It’s pretty cool to think of that mission making progress in so many cities across the nation, and I can’t wait to see what each of these nonprofits is able to do with their grant winnings.

Thank you to everyone who took time to vote. It’s so important to the Yelp Foundation to involve the community and Yelp employees in driving decisions about how best to give back to the local communities we all love. That’s why I can’t wait to get started on the Foundation’s next grant program later this year! Go to YelpFoundation.org to stay up to date on all the ways you can get involved with the Yelp Foundation, and for more information on grant winning nonprofits. Learn more about the impact Yelp Foundation grants have in this video profiling two grant recipients from previous years. 

2016 Yelp Foundation Gives Local Grant Winners

First place winners received grants of $5,000, second place received $3,000 grants, and third place received $2,000 grants.

 

Continue reading "Community Votes Call It: $750,000 in Grants Go to Nonprofits Through Yelp Foundation Gives Local Contest" »

January 07, 2016

Yelp’s Chief Revenue Officer

We’re looking forward to a great 2016 at Yelp - one that will deliver new products and features, an expanding global community of users, new talented team members that continue to make Yelp a best place to work, and a proven return on investment for our customers. Oh, and we’ll also hit our 100 millionth review!

Part of what makes Yelp both unique -- and a great place to work -- is the consistent, tenured leadership that has helped us transition from our founding story to our growth story. So, as we kick off another year, I’m pleased to announce the promotion of one of our most accomplished leaders, Jed Nachman, to Chief Revenue Officer.

Since joining Yelp as Head of Local Sales in 2007, Jed has built our sales organization, including client services and revenue operations, from 10 to over 2000 team members. Along the way, Jed and his team have grown Yelp revenue from $500 thousand to $500 million. He has also been an integral member of our executive team -- and helped establish our positive, energetic and highly accountable company culture. Now as Chief Revenue Officer, Jed will lead our local advertising business, take a more prominent role in company-wide planning and help push the company past the $1 billion revenue milestone.

We’re lucky to have Jed as a trusted leader that keeps us focused on customer success, strong revenue performance, and the continued success of Yelp for years to come.

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Jed Nachman, Yelp Chief Revenue Officer

January 06, 2016

How Many Views Do Your Reviews Get? Find Out Now!

For years Yelpers have been taking the time to share local insight knowing their reviews and photos help others find the best businesses out there. Compliments let you know when someone finds your review especially useful, funny, or cool, but that’s just a fraction of the people your reviews are reaching. Now users in all Yelp countries can see just how many people are benefiting from their contributions on Yelp with the addition of total views for the last 90 days of their reviews, photos, and profile. These stats are visible only to the user and can be seen on Yelp desktop and mobile. Views are compiled from activity across all platforms.

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Nique F., Yelp's associate regional marketing director, has some impressive view counts!

We know it’s a commitment to be a Yelper, and we’re continually grateful for the time and effort our community puts into sharing their wisdom. It’s fun to share your opinions, but it’s even more fulfilling to know that thousands of people are led to the best ham sandwich they’ve ever tasted, or the small bridal shop where they purchased the perfect wedding gown, or have avoided some wonky dental work, all thanks to the experiences you and your fellow Yelpers shared.

For new and returning 2016 Elites, we hope you especially enjoy watching your views tick up as you continue sharing your local adventures on Yelp. Here’s to a great new year!

December 21, 2015

Hello...It’s Me: Consumers Call Businesses More Than A Thousand Times on Holidays

Ahh, the holidays. The season for food, festivity and, dare we say, a little too much family time? Don’t worry friends, you’re not alone.

Cabin fever is contagious this time of year, and the proof is in the pudding. We analyzed calls made to businesses on Yelp in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas last year and found that some folks have things other than holiday cheer on their mind.

With calls to businesses in the Nightlife category increasing by 272% on Thanksgiving Day and 393% on Christmas Day, it’s clear that Yelpers are looking to shake the holiday stress away (and searching for something a bit stronger than eggnog).

You can only listen to little Timmy’s rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” for so long before it’s time to seek outside entertainment. Calls to businesses in the Arts & Entertainment category increased by 158% on Thanksgiving Day and 291% on Christmas Day.

Feeling a little sluggish after all those holiday meals? Welcome to the club. Calls to businesses in the Active Life category increased by 165% on Thanksgiving Day and 153% on Christmas Day. Some call it getting a head start on New Year's resolutions, we call it post-pumpkin pie guilt.

Check out the rest of our findings below to see all the ways Yelpers are spending their holiday time. From all of us at here Yelp, we wish you Happy Holidays - and when you’ve had your fill of family time, you know where to find us.

Calls made to businesses in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014:

  • Not everyone is willing to prepare a four-course meal on the big day. Calls to businesses in the Restaurant category increased by 428% on Christmas Day.
  • On your way to grandma’s house and realized you forgot to get Uncle Bob his annual tie? We know the feeling. On Christmas Day, calls to businesses in the Shopping category increased by 212%. That’s a lot of last-minute shoppers.
  • The week after Thanksgiving, calls to businesses in the Restaurant category only increased by 1%. Perhaps we have leftovers to thank?

 

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