How Yelp has changed my life, and how Google's helping

Yelp has truly changed my life. I love teh Yelp. Its not that Yelp has helped me find the best listings (like doctors, restaurants etc.), but it has also helped me avoid certain listings (like doctors, restaurants etc.) Yelp has also helped me express my creative writing. I've been told I use words like "awesome" and "amazingly" and "phenomenal" a lot in my reviews, but every time I post a review, I think I'm making a difference in the community, in my own bizarre fashion.

I often get asked why I heart Yelp so much, and how I think it's different from Citysearch.

  • First, citysearch is what I think is B2C marketing - business-to-consumer. They have reviews on there, BUT, they seem very marketing/business focused.
  • There isn't really a way for me to tell who has reviewed these listings. Ana Mandara has only got 48 reviews, BUT, how many of these reviews are from CitySearch regulars? Why would you trust them?  Also, there have been instances where I've noticed the business itself has rated its own listing. On Citysearch, I feel more like a business is trying to market to me.
  • Citysearch is web 1.0. (read on, and you'll understand why)

For example, here's a search for a restaurant, Ana Mandara on Citysearch :


Here's the same lookup (for Ana Mandara) on Yelp.


The results on the two sites look the same, BUT, Yelp has a whole community behind it that is not apparent from this image.

Here's how Yelp has the edge :

  • Yelp has these set of people called "Yelp Elites" - people who are interns who do review listings for the most part, and try to create a community. I have favorited some of these Yelp elites, and I've noticed that my tastes, likes and dislikes are completely at par with those of these elites. So, if Kristina R likes Oola, then I'm probably going to like it too. Yelp elites are cool, young, smart, very involved fantastic writers. The other day, I shot a Yelp Elite an email about a review he had posted - he had to withdraw his review because a listing threatened him with a libel suit. And I asked him what alternatives he used - I got a response back in about 5 minutes. The other thing Yelp has done REALLY well is create a community. Yelp is not all about reviews of listings. Its also about discussing local Events, Sports, Entertainment, etc.

  • Bottom-line : Yelp has "stickiness". I visit Yelp about 30 times on average a day.

  • Also, Yelp mobile is AMAZING! The other day, cK, Greg and I were walking down Upper Polk and we noticed Nick's Tacos was closed. We walked further up and saw a Thai place - none of us had been there before, how would we know if it was any good? I pulled out my Blackjack, and Yelped it right away. It had a decent listing, so we tried it out. That my friends, is stickiness - Yelp keeps me coming back.

  • Yelp is web 2.0 :


    RSS baby!! And, did you notice the integrated Maps? Fine, maybe Citysearch isn't so much web 1.0, as much as Yelp is web 2.0. But, hey, web 2.0 is hot.

  • Also, go back up and observe the left pane on the two images - Citysearch and Yelp. What do you see that is different?

Anyhow, this morning I was absolutely shocked when I saw this post : "Google kills Yelp... story at 11" (original post from Google Lat Long blog over here - The headline is totally misleading, the post doesn't go on to say anything about Goog "killing" Yelp. I think Google's being smart by offering links to all kinds of known possible reviews about a business listing, including those of Yelp, directly from its Maps site. Here's a snapshot I took when I searched for the same Ana Mandara, here in the city (majority of the reviews are from Yelp) :


I'm wondering though, how did Google conclude that Ana Mandara is a 4.5? Aggregate of ALL the known reviews including CitySearch, Yelp, Zagat and anything else?

So, in my opinion, Goog is NOT killing Yelp. Now, If Goog were to have its own community around listings and reviews, that'd be a different story all together. In fact, do I see a possible acquisition? Et tu, Y!?


Technorati tags: yelp, citysearch, web 1.0, web 2.0, yelp mobile, yelp elites, google, google maps, google lat long, b2c, c2c