Recently Pierre Zarokian, our CEO, wrote an article for Search Engine Journal about how a Restaurant with negative reviews decided to take on Yelp and just ask everyone to leave them negative reviews in return for food discounts. When Yelp was first conceived, the idea was to find local hot spots based on the tastes of your friends. Yelp’s founders had hoped they could create a network of reviews that would help to source such lists. The Yelp of yesterday doesn’t face the same problems that the massive network of today faces. Transparency Problems Yelp is the winner of a recent appeals case that gives the company rights to order reviews posted on its page as it pleases. Yelp has argued that it requires this right in order to perform its basic service, namely to offer trustworthy reviews. It argues that the star rating system benefits restaurants, which see a significantly larger bump in revenue for each star increase in ratings. The conflict of interest appears when Yelp sales people try to sell businesses higher visibility an more customers through advertising. This creates a transparency problem for the company
Yelp’s FAQ page explicitly states that a user is unable to pay the company in order to preserve a pristine reputation. Why then is the FTC revealing 2,000 complaints that allege the company has been trying to sell exactly that idea? Yelp may say they separate the content and revenue side of the business, but they aren’t clear on what that means for businesses. Several sources from businesses who have spoken to Yelp’s sales team claim that Yelp has used their competitors to try and sell advertising space, threatening them with competition on their page if they refuse to pay. Meanwhile, consumers have privacy concerns as Yelp faces court battles over alleged falsified reviews.
The integrity of Yelp is about the only commodity the site has to attract repeat visits. The authenticity of the reviews posted there is important to consumers looking for new destinations for products and services. With a recent surge of fake and ineligible reviews hitting the site, CEO Jeremy Stoppleman has decided to speak authoritatively on steps Yelp has taken to stop these reviews from becoming commonplace. Yelp has begun issuing citations in the form of modal popups. These messages warn potential customers that the business they are viewing was caught faking reviews.
A recent article from the LA Times reports the growing dissatisfaction with Yelp, a popular review site for restaurants, tradesmen, and local businesses. Yelp, Inc. held a panel of three reviewers and two business owners at the Pantages Theatre on Tuesday in Los Angeles, California. The meeting was held in an effort to explore misconceptions surrounding the company and to build relationships with business owners. However, the discussion quickly degenerated into an emotionally ridden criticism of the website’s aggressive advertising practices. One business owner, Craig Martin of Cafe 50′s in West Los Angeles, told the panel, “I have one-star reviews for my diner from people that have never walked into the place