Research Report - Yelp

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Basic Info

Yelp was started by 2 PayPal employees in in 2004. The idea was providing crowd-sourced reviews for local businesses. It has become very popular since then. When people look for a place to eat out the #1 site they use is Yelp.

Pros

  • Free and the audience is generic public. Better than Angie's List in this regard
  • Well-known brand and there are all kinds of local businesses there. Many of them have reviews.

Cons

  • A lot of fraud reviews. One real person can register 100 fraud accounts with real person names and real person pictures to write fraud reviews without Yelp finding it.
  • Yelp manipulates reviews by filtering out negative reviews if businesses pay.
  • Real reviews could be filtered out as fraud reviews. This happened to me and my friends. Once I found it I never wrote reviews on Yelp.
  • Not enough info in the reviews for serious things like home improvement projects.
  • If there are only a few reviews for a business and all of them are good you still don't have confidence.

Editor's biased comments

  • Yelp is good for casual things like dining or low cost services (tens of bucks). If it does not work out no big deal
  • Yelp is NOT good for serious business like maintaining and improving your home. Many home projects cost thousands of bucks or tens of thousands. If a project does not go well it could cause big trouble (not just financial loss). Just a small example. A friend of mine couldn’t use her garage for parking for the whole winter due to the contractor’s problem.
  • Use Yelp to do cross-checking but do read the filtered reviews. Generally for the same business Yelp has lower ratings than Angie’s List. There is fundamental reason in it and it is one of the problems Angie’s List has. Trust Yelp more in this case.