The Future of Yelp

I’ve chatted a little bit about in the past, but a recent article in San Francisco magazine really brought a lot of things home. While I’m not a tremendous fan of SF Mag, this article was quite good and a read I would recommend. Basically, the author asks, what is the future of Yelp? The site works somewhat well in San Francisco, but expansion is a problem. I would posit that the problem lies in the fact that the only other annoying hipster population of any merit lies in New York City and that is a territory heavily covered in all things hipster-related, Vice being one of the more amusing ones. So, expanding a lot in NYC is a heavy fight, while any other city doesn’t have much of a market worth pursuing. San Francisco happened to be the best mix of everything and they’re pretty much the kings here.
But the fact is that Yelp is probably doomed to failure or a buyout. The site is just too cool for school and has no generic merit to it that allows it to spread beyond the “in” crowd of any particular city. It’s part of the reason that while I review on it from time to time, it’s gotten to be only useful to me as an online 411 directory. Even if an establishment doesn’t have a website in SF, they will probably be listed on Yelp. Beyond that, the reviews are nearly worthless to me, unless of course some place gets insanely good reviews all the time, then I know I should stay away as it will be thronged by hipster masses constantly.
I mean, yeah, we get it, Tartine is great. The 1,000 reviews that are there for it are kinda redundant at this point. But that’s the problem. To get in to the crowd, you need to review and to be welcomed by the crowd, you need to love what they love and hate what they hate. Step out of line and the “Yelp Elite” will not welcome you unless of course you can out-drink them and I gotta warn everything that there are some severe fishes in that group.
One last point that I’ve mentioned in passing to people and the author of the SF Mag article picked up is that it seems like a Google buyout would make a lot of sense. Once I saw that Google had put ratings on its business listings, it seemed like a perfect fit. That and the fact that Yelp’s revenue comes from premium placements for business (which several owners have told me are a waste of money) and advertisements, which Google does splendidly. What Yelp could do for Google’s ratings system could be what YouTube did for Google Video. I’m sure they wouldn’t change anything about the front end of Yelp so that they keep the community that drools over it in place, while at the same time, they’d take the backend and make it all Google, hopefully fixing Yelp’s very sporadic image server in the process. After all, Yelp’s search system sucks to the core and I always use ‘blah blah restaurant’ searches on Google to actually find what I’m looking for, so the fit would be more brilliant than a shotgun with a silencer
The Future of Yelp

8 Replies to “The Future of Yelp”

  1. one can bet that yelp purposely has a crap internal search engine to cozy up to a google buyout. does google know how many shills are on yelp and how much of yelp’s “content” is spam lifted from other websites? buying yelp would be a ROYAL waste of google money.

    1. I have used Yelp for 6 months. I would say there are a lot of fake reviews from business owners and their friends and family. After a business gets 10 to 25 reviews, does it really matter? It’s just rehashing the same pro’s and con’s.

      The “number” of businesses reveiwed on Yelp is also deceiving. These are not Zagat quality reviews or place. I would estimate that 70% of the reviews are for common, run-of-the-mill places like a Taco Bell or other fast food place.

      It makes a great directory for finding phone numbers, addresses and other details. But would not pay for a yelp listing. I’m already on Yelp! With a 4 star rating. So why would I pay for something I get for free?

    2. I’ve always thought that Yelp should just grab the latest 10 reviews to base the score upon. This would make it rotate and stay current. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to sell nasty services as I pointed on in my recent article.

    3. Geez! This review sounds so negative. I am pretty sure that I can find that kind of “anti” review about Google, also. As a reviewer, and a city native, I keep coming back for more reviews, raves, discussions, and useful and not-so-useful, (BUT FUN!), info. Yelp is our city’s flavor(By our city, I mean Bay Area). It’s a yellow pages with a wired social networking twist! It’s modern, and it’s not a search engine either! In fact, of all my friends NONE use Google for localized search. We Yelp things we need in our city – and leave Google to “question of the day” queries. For advertising, even if you are “already on Yelp”, hehe, it beats Citysearch pay per click system and gets real reviews(if you aren’t afraid of them). And that means – you can see(read) that yelp advertisers ALSO get negative reviews! I see real potential for Yelp – for example “same rehashing” is not the word – I have seen restaurants service go up and flop. It’s always about recent, fresh reviews – I always read the latest ones.

    4. You didn’t even have the decency to post an email along with your comment which pretty much invalidates anything you have to say as you’re not willing to put your actual name behind it. This just goes to either reinforce my point about Yelp or show that you’re some Yelp staff member, coming to my site to try and counteract all the negative coverage Yelp has rightly been getting lately.

    5. As a business, I’ve linked to it’s business friendly with weekend ideas and recommendations. Yelp does nothing, 10 good reviews 10 bad reviews – what do you do?

    6. We pray YELP goes bankrupt and sinks to the bottom of hell, and takes its MAFIA YELPERS with them. We pray that GOD shows no mercy for all the damage and EXTORTION they have inflicted upon business owners and the children they support. YELP is a den of snakes and deserve to BURN for the lies and slander they spread. PRAY PSALMS 140 FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION!


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