As most of you certainly know it and must have used it at least once before, Yelp is an online platform (website or app) indexing companies and allowing customers to write reviews, positive ones but also negative ones. There you can find listings of lots of different business types (restaurants, medical practices, handymen, etc), as well as details you can use as filters: location, prices, specific features…
As a customer, you can leave a rating (up to five stars), a review, and photos of your experience. And thanks to this system, you get an idea of the experience you can expect to have with this company.
As a company, being present on Yelp, combined with the possibility to answer the reviews means a great deal, because you will increase your visibility and your reputation.
While it sounds good on paper, this platform has been called out for some controversial practices over the years. Yelp has often been described as unfair, with claims of manipulation and blocking reviews to increase revenues in ads. Many business owners were allegedly proposed to pay advertisements to hide their bad reviews, while Yelp is putting forward the bad ones and leaving the positive ones at the very bottom of the page, unless you pay for ads.
Meanwhile it is easy for your competitors to write fake reviews on your business. And sometimes, business owners believe their legitimate good reviews get filtered.
Now do not take this article as an invitation to boycott Yelp, especially because things might have been blown out of proportion. What you could consider retaining is: “Yelp has seen its lot of controversies. It is still a useful platform, but there are other ones you could use for the same objectives, while being safer with your business’ online image”.
You can find all the following reviews on Trustpilot:
“Yelp is not a review site, they are a platform for fantasists and saboteurs. They take no responsibility for enabling anyone to write anything, regardless of whether it bears any relation to the truth. Look elsewhere if you want genuine reviews.”
“So corrupt! If you don't advertise with them they don't allow anyone to put good reviews up about your business and try to force people to sign up with them!!!”
“Yelp should have been banned by now. Yelp is literally selling the good reviews that you get from customers. Their entire pursuit lies on illegal rules. I wonder who is behind this "beautifully" equipped false system??”
“What yelp does is give you a poor review and then think you're going to be stupid enough to join their platform to try and explain yourself . Nice try thank you not anyone with half a brain Can figure that out.”
“Yelp has very deceptive business practices, in my opinion. They continually try to get $400.00 monthly payments from small businesses like mine and say they can help with reviews. Otherwise in my case for instance they have 1( 5 star review) and 1 (1 star review) posted so my business looks poor. They cover up the other 12 (5 star reviews) at the bottom of the page and not these reviews and note they are not recommended. Even though they are from legitimate customers. They won't even consider putting any of my 5 star reviews up with proof they are real customers. Hurting my business daily in a website forum I cannot control.”
The alternatives to Yelp include:
- Google My Business
Whether you or a simple customer listed your business on Google, your company will have a Business Profile. An account with Google My Business will allow you to claim ownership of your company, to manage the information visible online, to gain insights, and to engage with consumers, notably those leaving reviews.
Setting a Facebook page for your business will allow you to build your presence online: you can decide what content to share with your audience and when to share it, and to respond to your customers' reviews directly from the page. You'll also have access to analytics to get to see the impact your page has on your company. Running a page may require to invest a bit of time, and the audience you'll reach will probably be quite specific.
This alternative can be seen as very different from the other ones, because TripAdvisor's market is the tourism industry. This means people might be less likely to use it to find something else than short-term vacation rentals, landmarks, activities and restauration businesses. But it is widely used, and often makes bookings available without needing to go on a business' website. Reviewers are also able to show pictures, and companies are able to respond to reviews.
The Better Business Bureau was the second most trusted review site in 2019, right behind Google, with its .org granting it more authority. This means getting an A will have a very positive impact on your business. Being accredited on the BBB makes you able to update your business' information, to receive material like a badge, to access your business' analytics, and to solve problems with unsatisfied clients with a support for customer service. On the other hand, these services are quite expensive (especially since the other alternatives are usually free to use), and the BBB is not visited as much as the other alternatives, also because all companies are based in the US. Thus you won't get as much traffic as you would with another well-known alternative like Google or TripAdvisor. Moreover, the BBB distinguishes "reviews" and "complaints", so it's easier to see the flaws or mistakes of companies.
While many think of the Yellow pages as a printed book listing advertisements of businesses (or just their names and contact information), you may also find them online. You'll find a different website per country, and won't be able to respond to reviews, which makes the business opportunities quite limited.
This website is mostly used by small companies. Once you get your business listed, Manta allows you to get in touch with your customers by answering their queries. But with Google getting the biggest market share in business listing and reviewing, Manta is not used a lot at the moment.
- Angi (formerly Angie’s List)
While businesses you'll find on TripAdvisor target travelers, Angi's listing will help you find many different businesses for house work: handymen, plumbing, cleaning, real estate... Angi also serves as a mediator between customers and companies after receiving a negative review, which is something other websites can lack .
Businesses listed on Trustpilot can send invitations to former customers to leave a review, and reply to those who already left their comments. The platform also provides marketing tools like the Trustpilot icon to show a company's trustworthiness.
Trutradius offers the same concept as Trustpilot, but to review softwares. They allegedly use incentives to push people to write reviews, without being used to bias people's participation in one direction or another. "Allegedly" because you may find reviews of people still waiting for their reward.
This website is specialised in listings of local businesses, and provides their contact information, as well as directions to get there. There is also an option to request services directly from the platform. Business owners can pay to advertise their own companies, but it will appear as "sponsor links" or "featured sponsors", which does not necessarily come across as reassuring.