In early 2014, the U.S Federal Trade Commission revealed that they had received more than 2000 complaints about Yelp’s review model and practices. Ever since Yelp has been caught up in a web of allegations and accusations. Starting from the Yelp Sponsorship Program to small business owners blaming Yelp for ruining their businesses, Yelp’s sales tactics and years of controversy has raised concerns about its trustworthiness.
As of July 2016, over 5300 complaints has been filed at the FTC about Yelp. Recently, Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck declared that Yelp is shaking down local businesses. He also went on to say, “Unlike Yelp — they have several thousand people who dial the pizzeria and the bar to try and get them to pay each month — our ratings are really neutral. We recommend the great banh mi sandwich shop or the great ramen place, we’re not biased in any way.”
As is the case with most businesses, this is how the story flows.
- Yelp asks a business to advertise with them for a price. If the business declines the offer, Yelp still pursues the business but with more aggression. Even after all this, if the business is still not interested, their 5 and 4 star ratings gets filtered and the ratings on Yelp plummets for no obvious reason.
- But, if the business accepts the offer and pays the fees, they get good ratings and reviews and the poor reviews get filtered out.
SF Weekly, TechCrunch, Reddit and a lot of other forums & magazines featured stories regarding Yelp’s questionable practices. With such stories mounting day by day, Yelp is looking less like a user and business friendly review site.
A lot of local business owners seem to be in a love-hate relationship with Yelp. For them, Yelp is too big to ignore with over 145 million average monthly unique users. But, Yelp has also been blamed by a lot of business owners for forcing them into paying, for control over their reviews.
One thing is clear – local businesses cannot ignore review sites. Online reviews are one of the important factors that impact local SEO. If you are tired with Yelp, you should not just stop there!
Here are four good alternatives to Yelp (less extorting and more rewarding!) –
Founded in 2000 in a small space above a pizza shop in Massachusetts, TripAdvisor was originally a B2B tool. But, once the travel community started using it for checking out reviews, TripAdvisor swiftly evolved into a review site to fill this gap. One major advantage with TripAdvisor is that the entire world is covered – there are reviews on TripAdvisor for businesses in every country in the world (including Tuvalu if you know where it is!).
How is TripAdvisor different from Yelp?
- TripAdvisor is extensively used by the travel community to discover new places, hotels, and restaurants.
- TripAdvisor encourages business owners to ask travelers for reviews while Yelp strongly discourages this practice.
Wow Factor – The total words of all the reviews on TripAdvisor is more than 10 billion!
Regions Covered – International
Zomato started out as FoodieBay and was renamed as Zomato in 2010. In 2012, Zomato started operating globally and acquired five low-key companies before acquiring UrbanSpoon to make a grand entry into the U.S. While Yelp publishes crowd-sourced reviews about businesses, Zomato features highly curated information like geocoded coordinates for restaurants and scanned menu. And because Zomato refreshes data once in every 3 months, the data is relevant and useful to the customers. Zomato has a lot of returning users because of this rich content that is up-to-date and real-time. This also makes Zomato a highly targeted advertising platform for business owners.
How is Zomato different from Yelp?
- Zomato features “curated content” that is collected and posted by Zomato employees.
- While Yelp has reviews about everything ranging from salons to dentists, Zomato is focussed on restaurants and food.
Wow Factor – To take on Yelp, Zomato acquired UrbanSpoon for an all-cash deal of around $60 million before entering the U.S market!
Regions Covered – 23 countries including the U.S, Brazil, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
3) Angie’s List
Angie’s List directly connects customers to its marketplace of local services and features ratings & reviews on 720 different services. Over 3 million households check Angie’s List to find the best roofers, mechanics, dentists, doctors and other local service providers. One of the biggest advantages of Angie’s List is its level of regulation that eliminates anonymous reviews. Not only that, all Super Service award winning providers and advertising companies are also background checked. Businesses with good reviews can opt for advertisement space by paying a nominal fee, provided they grant discounts to Angie’s List users.
How Angie’s List is different from Yelp?
- Angie’s list is more focused towards home services and contractors.
- Unlike Yelp which is a free-for-all platform, Angie’s List also has paid versions for customers.
Wow Factor – Angie’s List’s review collection process is annually certified by BPA Worldwide and companies are prevented from reporting on themselves or their competitors.
Regions Covered – United States
Foursquare uses location intelligence to create meaningful customer experiences and business solutions. The Foursquare app helps people discover new places and get recommendations from a community of fellow users. Simply put, Foursquare allows users to “check-in” at different venues by selecting from a list of venues the app discovers in the nearby region. Once they have checked-in, they can share their location with Foursquare friends, Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
How Foursquare is different from Yelp?
- Foursquare is popular for its location-based check-in features and has a lot of check-in data. So, Foursquare gives better recommendations to the user.
- Foursquare can tell the users what’s popular at a particular time of the day.
Wow Factor – People have checked in at various places more than 8 billion times worldwide on Foursquare!
Regions Covered – Over 57 countries including Australia, United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Russia, New Zealand, France and Greece.
Here’s how these four alternatives compare with Yelp.
|Business Aggregators| Yelp Alternative||Total Reviews||Total Businesses||Average Monthly Users|
|Yelp||Over 100 million||2.8 million claimed local businesses||145 million|
|TripAdvisor||Over 385 million||6.6 million businesses||350 million unique users|
|Zomato||Over 0.5 million||Over 1 million||90 million|
|Angie’s List||60,000 reviews monthly||Over 1 million||
Over 3 million households in the US
|FourSquare||75 million “tips”||13 million business pages||55 million (Foursquare + Swarm)|