Yelp: A necessity for small business?
Written by: Ryan Flannagan

There are a few local small business review websites on the market. Some of these are Angie’s List, Yelp, YellowPages, DexKnows. At these sites patrons of local businesses can read descriptions, read and write reviews about their experience, and search out other local businesses.

 

So how is Yelp different?

Yelp does a few things very well, especially compared to some of its competitors. First, it seems that Yelp has hit critical mass and keeps local content fresh with new reviews, visiting patrons, and relevant information. As of December 2010, more than 41 million people visited Yelp in the past 30 days. Yelpers have written over 15 million local reviews, and 83% of them have rated a business with 3 stars or higher. (Yelp) This is somewhat based on Yelp’s micro community social network. While many of Yelp’s competitors have some social networking ability, Yelp makes the process simplistic for the end user by enabling Facebook Connect. The end result for Yelp’s community is that Yelpers end up becoming friends, recommending new local business and socializing around local businesses. Additionally, Yelp has the technical expertise to keep their audience happy. Yelp currently has one of the better mobile platforms allowing their users to access them via http://m.yelp.com, or use Yelp for iPhone, Yelp for BlackBerry, Yelp for Palm Pre, and Yelp for Android.

For the small business owner, Yelp enables one to read reviews about their business and respond to reviews. It is important to understand as a business owner that with or without you, there will be conversations about your business. Yelp provides a constructive and ultimately beneficial platform for a business owner to receive constructive criticism about one’s business, respond to criticism and take the appropriate action.

While Yelp may not be a necessity for every small business owner, it is strongly recommended that every small business use it. Yelp provides small business owners an opportunity to converse with their patrons about their products or services and improve them. Futhermore, Yelp increases search engine visibility for one’s business and encourages people to socialize around and recommend local businesses to their friends. This ultimately increases local a business’s visibility and patronage.

 

10 Things You Should Know About Yelp

  1. Yelp was founded in 2004 to help people find great local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and mechanics
  2. As of December 2010, more than 41 million people visited Yelp in the past 30 days
  3. Yelpers have written over 15 million local reviews, 83% of them rating a business 3 stars or higher
  4. In addition to reviews, you can use Yelp to find events, special offers, lists and to talk with other Yelpers
  5. Every business owner (or manager) can setup a free account to post offers, photos and message her customers
  6. Yelp makes money by selling ads to local businesses – you’ll see these yellow, clearly labeled “Sponsored Results” around the site
  7. Paying advertisers can never change or re-order their reviews
  8. Yelp has an automated filter that suppresses a small portion of reviews – it targets those suspicious ones you see on other sites
  9. You can Yelp on your phone at http://m.yelp.com, or use Yelp for iPhone, Yelp for BlackBerry, Yelp for Palm Pre, and Yelp for Android
  10. The Weekly Yelp is available in 42 city editions to bring you the latest business openings & other happenings (Yelp)
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