Jun 27 Posted 2 years ago
I agree with your statement " And Yelp usage continues to grow exponentially", but let's be honest here. Yelp is just a directory, Google is a search engine, and when someone does a search for ANY business on Goolge, their Google reviews, and/or Google Local or Google+ listing are the very top search result. So I will have to disagree with "Run a Google search on the name of practically any local business and you'll find its Yelp page at the top of search results".
Yelp might get 100 million unique vistiors a month, but a few months ago Google broke the 1 billion mark. Google is growing every single day as far as reviews go since the implementation of Google+.
Apr 10 Posted 2 years ago
Must disagree with the advice to spend 2/3rds effort on Google+ Local and 1/3 on everyone else, including Yelp, in acquiring reviews. For most business categories, in most locations, for the time being, Yelp is significantly more important than Google in the review space; you could say "Yelp is the Google of reviews." Google thinks Yelp is very important, too. Run a Google search on the name of practically any local business and you'll find its Yelp page at the top of search results, with the overall rating and number of reviews highly visible. How often do you find a company's Google+ Local page ranking above its Yelp page? Or even on the first page of organic search results? It's also not unusual for a company's Yelp page to rank above its website for industry searches, e.g., "plumber anylocation."
Since my company helps local businesses acquire customer reviews, we analyze zillions of SERPs to see which review sites Google thinks are most important for its organic rankings, and Google doesn't appear to think much of its own offering, at this point. Yes, Google "promotes" its own Google+ social service in the Local Business Listings, but it separates church and state in its search algorithm. If you study Local Business Listings, you'll see that the number of Google reviews or the overall "rating" is not the determining factor for inclusion in the Local Business Listings or where a company ranks in them.
We pore through a lot of analytics reports for local business clients, and see how powerful Yelp can be as a traffic source. Yelp conversion rates are extremely high, unlike anything else. And Yelp usage continues to grow exponentially; Yelp is currently reporting about 100 million unique visitors a month, up from 80 million in Q4 of 2012. So Yelp "organic traffic" is a great opportunity for local businesses.
The flipside of this coin is you don't want to be in trouble with Yelp. Some negative reviews are okay, as long as they're balanced or neutralized by predominately more positive reviews. But if your position on Yelp is fundamentally negative, you're probably feeling the pain. We frequently get calls from local businesses with Yelp problems that can tell us how much money they're losing because of Yelp. We rarely get calls saying, "Google reviews are killing our business." This is not to say Google+ Local isn't important. It is. It just doesn't need 2/3rds of your customer review attention.
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