Well this one takes the cake, and I don’t even like cake! Yahoo is no longer accepting calls concerning your local listings. So when there are updates that need dealt with, duplicates needing removed or just general inquires, we the customer have been left out in the cold to find our new “Yahoo Yellow-Brick Road”. The only difference is there is no magical head figure giving us unlimited answers to our never-ending supply of questions. There is only this, a form, for all of our local listing needs. (The only issue is this form is for removal only, nothing else!) Sigh, as this seems to be the new direction of customer service.
Not only did they take away voice-to-voice communication for our local listings, they’ve also allowed their partnership with Yelp dilute the years of hard work that businesses have put into getting high value reviews from dedicated customers/consumers. Updates can still be made through your dashboard, but anything outside of that will take a “National Treasure” like hunt from Benjamin Franklin Gates to find what you’re looking for.
What is the reasoning behind these changes? I understand the changes made for customer service calls concerning local listings, but why make businesses look less trustworthy or factual with the removal of their reviews? The Wall Street Journal, (WSJ) recently produced a piece on small businesses taking aim at Yahoo for the removal of these reviews. While Yahoo seems to not want to address this quite yet, they have stated that, “We partnered with Yelp, one of the most trusted, relevant sources of consumer business reviews, to provide a richer search experience for Yahoo users.” But when did Yelp become a more trusted and relevant site than, Google, Bing or even Yahoo?
Was there something I missed? Did I somehow slip into a long coma and now the days of the “Big 3” (Google, Bing & Yahoo) have been moved to the side for the new big boys such as Yelp, SuperPages & InfoGroup?
Yelp Making Waves
Back in 2012, Google was ranked #1 in local importance, with Yelp coming in at #2 when discussing searchable local businesses. I believe this is when Yahoo started taking notice of the value of local search and noticing there lack of knowledge for local search. Once Yelp had grown big enough to stand on there own, they joined forces with Bing. Yahoo was ready to really dive in the local search arena now!
Seeing the type of traffic that was being directed to local businesses from Apple’s search option via Siri in it’s browsers, Yahoo must have assumed the value provided by Yelp was a HUGE indication that Yelp reviews held more value than their own. With Bing and Yelp already in cahoots, and Bing using Yelp reviews, it would only make sense to try and join forces with Yelp, a trusted local business directory in the top 3 of the Local Business Ecosystem.
By doing this, they would ensure themselves that no matter what reviews or lack or reviews it had, they were going to be consistent and local. With Bing, Yahoo and Yelp showing the same reviews seems trusting to me. I mean that seems to be the most important task when talking about SEO…. consistency throughout, and most importantly trustworthiness. What local businesses need to do now is go to their Yelp listings to ensure the reviews that have been left are of great value and nothing negative. This should be taken serious, as this one site will now fulfill reviews for Bing, Yahoo and local businesses searched using the Apple phone app, Siri. (I shouldn’t forget about DexKnows, Openlist and Switchboard!)
With that kind of coverage, reviews are going to be the most important factor when people are looking for new businesses. Trust has and always will be #1 in my “Book of Life”. The one thing that concerns me is the anonymity with these reviews. It’s very difficult to gauge if it’s someone real or just a bot. I suggest checking your Yelp listings weekly and if you’re super-anal like myself, check them daily just to be sure! Here are some tips on how to properly get Yelp reviews:
- Review top competitor listings in your area. This will give you an idea on what information you should show and also how to setup your personal business listing.
- NAP!!! Make sure first and foremost your listing has the correct information. Add great imagery and detailed business information to really inform the customer.
- Add a “Find us on Yelp” sign in your business. With just about everybody having smartphones now they might see the sign and immediately want to leave a review if they’ve received good service.
- Post a deal on your Yelp business page. Deals are great way to get new customers through your doors. They also allow you to submit blogs.
- Respond to your reviews. People want to feel like they’re being engaged. This is an awesome way to let people know that they’re special.
- Promote your business on social networks. This is an easy way to get good reviews. Yelp states, “Instead of blatantly saying “Review us on Yelp,” say “Check us out on Yelp”.
- The best type of word of mouth is organic. Never ask a people to provide a review for you! If you do, Yelp will Hulk Smash your listing! Don’t make the Hulk angry!
A couple important things to keep in mind of:
Yelp will sometimes remove reviews from your site even if it’s a 4 or 5 star review. They do this in order to weed out non-trusted reviewers, people with a LOW user activity or simply to pull a review that looks suspicious of its given ranking. Be cautious about leaving reviews or having reviews left by family or friends. With the ability to link your business profile with your personal profile and along with having a Facebook page, Yelp can determine who your friends and family are and see if they have listings provided by Yelp. Once they see that relationship, that review will be removed. The last thing I want to include is IP address. For example, if I’m leaving a review for a restaurant located in Chicago but I live in Burley, ID, Yelp will be able to determine if I’ve done any searches for restaurants in Chicago and also where I was doing those searches. It would see that I’m nowhere near Chicago and neither is my IP address. Therefor my review would be removed. I know this sounds like a bummer but Yelp says their “Review Filter” takes these steps so everyone site wide has an equal and fair chance at ranking properly.
The one thing I do know is this…Yahoo’s change was a big slap in the face to all local businesses and the removal of 10, 20 or 30+ reviews that have been gathered over the last 1, 2 or 5 years for the 1 or 2 you might have obtained from Yelp over that same period, from possibly a disgruntled customer/employee is a complete head scratcher. The fact that Yahoo sees no fault in their actions makes me think that Yahoo saw their reviews in the overall spectrum to have little, or no value in local search.
To sum it up, to Yahoo, their reviews are to what toilet paper is to the human being. At one point so easily accessible, viewable and readily used only to be crumbled up and flushed drown the drain to only be forgotten about.