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Is Yelp Bad For Business?

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Yelp is an influential site but also tends to continually stir up controversy and disillusionment among business owners.

Love it or hate it - Yelp has the potential to be a force for good but sometimes ends up being one of the worst things that has happened to small business in the last few years. Both reviewers and businesses complain about the filtering algorithm which often hides good reviews while showing every bad one. There have been to accusations of extortion by Yelp, if you pay they claim they will remove competitor’s listings that normally appear alongside your business.

According to Yelp:

“Every Yelp review is automatically evaluated by Yelp’s recommendation software based on quality, reliability, and user activity on Yelp. More often than not, those useful reviews come from active members of the Yelp community.”

Yelp usually puts more weight on reviews left by people who have a lot of friends, and who have left many reviews for businesses. Could it be possible that some customers find if they want to promote businesses they like, they must leave bad reviews for other businesses to make their good reviews look legit. Is it possible that these people will leave much harsher reviews than they normally would, or even leave unnecessarily bad reviews for businesses they have never patronized?

Anyone you will ever talk to at Yelp has no real clue what is going on in their own company, is never of any help if you have a questions and cannot explain how their filtering algorithm works.

 Yelp can be bad for restaurants – especially smaller mom and pop establishments who are trying to keep their doors open. A bad review could potentially cost a small business thousands of dollars. And now that everyone thinks they are a food critic, even the best restaurants are victims to sadly pathetic whiny people who don’t feel their waitress was pleasant enough, or don’t think their truffle fries were cooked perfectly the way it’s done on Food Network.

A couple years ago someone left a bad review for one of our restaurant clients saying the Creme Brulee came out and had “dirt” on the top. Well if a delicious crackly sugar top is considered dirt – then I must love dirt.
If everyone was made to work in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives – even for just a year, then these so called foodies would be a lot more forgiving and understand how much work goes into operating a restaurant.

Recently it seems Yelp is running into problems of its own when they cratered as much as 32% as advertisers continue to abandon the site.

Yelp is clearly ramping up their sales teams as a lot of our clients have been getting calls from sales reps. Business owners are getting bombarded with calls because they didn’t meet their sales estimates last year. I had one client who claimed a Yelp salesperson tried to sell them PPC and claimed it would only cost $1.00 per click when their actual website says otherwise. According to the Yelp website “The price you pay per click is based on competition and relevance”. Are Yelp Salespeople just saying anything to sign someone up and get a commission?

They offer different PPC packages and each of the packages has a click budget per month ( if you read the fine print you find that the first $100 every month goes to Administrative costs). They want you to sign a contract for at least 6 months.

If you advertise with Yelp, they want to drive people to your Yelp listing. If you advertise using Google Adwords people are directly visiting your site. So if you are going to spend money on PPC, Google is the better choice. A quick search on Google will show many articles explaining Yelp Advertising and why it’s a bad idea so I won’t go into more details here.

You Don’t Need to Pay for Yelp, and nobody in their right mind would want to.

Business owners can get free Yelp review pages and those rank (from a search engine optimization perspective) just as well as the paid for pages.

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