Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dare We Review Yelp?

Yelp ( ... is a review site and an interesting business model at that - not all reviews show up on the site. As stated in the yelp FAQ section ...

The review may have been suppressed by Yelp's automated software system. This system decides how established a particular reviewer is and whether a review will be shown based on the reviewer's involvement on Yelp ..."

The Situation

A number of our real sweet clients have given us glowing reviews over at Yelp. These clients have not become active 'Yelpers', so their reviews do not show up on our yelp business page. The reviews that have not shown up can be found here, here and here ... ;-) I think this works for Yelp because people that are not active Yelpers don't go back and check to see if their review showed up, if they are active then the review shows up - so no heat from the Yelpers ...

Yes, I am irked. I believe in the Yelp idea, use Yelp to search out good businesses and really love the usability of their web site (although this experience has given me another view of those businesses with 'no ratings').

Yelp has approached us with the idea of advertising with them. Their answer to reviews not showing up is that it is an unfortunate but unavoidable byproduct of the system that insures the highest quality of reviews. The idea is that if we advertise with them, we will get reviewed by active Yelpers, those reviews will show up, and we will build amazing synergy from there ...

The Conundrum

The conflict I am having is not with Yelp's business model. It is that the casual Yelper would never know that some reviews are not showing up. Yes, go to the FAQ section and there is full disclosure, but nonetheless the assumptions that are made by the person using the site for research are different from the actual facts of the site. When the whole focus of the site is the idea of building integrity in reviews, the review site itself has performed a slight of hand.

We have many marketing and advertising alternatives, of which I honestly think Yelp is a very good one. But it irks me to be a fan of a service or product that is at all 'tricky'. So, do we get over ourselves and advertise with Yelp or do we use other alternatives?

Chantel and I are talking about it and we would appreciate any and all feedback. What is your experience with Yelp? Does this feel 'tricky' to you?


Side Note: It is interesting and telling that our perception of a business can take us from being fans to having reservations. I am sure that goes both ways - if you are reading this and are a client of ours, and we do anything that gives you reservations - please,please, please let us know ... thanks!

Update 4/12/2010

Yelp just added a feature to their site that addresses this issue, and I think resolves their conflict between quality reviews and transparency. They added a small link at the bottom of the page that takes you to the reviews that are not displayed ... in our case "(8 Filtered Reviews)", or something to that effect.

Kudos to Yelp! Way to go! They took that bull by the horns and figured it out! :-)


  1. I like yelp for review but not an active user as in always writing reviews. I feel that the trickery in which yelp approaches you to advertise is wrong. I generally, use word of mouth and other research before making a decision. I feel word of mouth is great way to network and advertise. I met you at a wedding fair and were impressed with your work and what caught my wife and I was a photograph of a fireman (Last Rights). Even to this day, I still recommend you to my friends and family.

    Keep up the Great Work!

    Roy R.

  2. Wow, Thanks! I am very touched! (a little crazy maybe too, but that's not the way I mean it) :)