Yelp Rolls Out Mobile Reviews and Consumer Alerts
August 28, 2013 | Contributed by: Wesley Young
A recent update to the Yelp app allows users to publish reviews directly from the local search site’s mobile platform. The update is currently only available on iOS, but will be arriving on Android phones shortly.
Previously, mobile Yelp users could only offer “tips,” or short tweet-like comments, after checking-in to a business. The updated app keeps the quick “tips” system in place, but also adds the option to leave full-length reviews. As with the desktop version of Yelp, mobile users can also upload their own pictures to be displayed in-line with their review.
Yelp estimates that an average of 10.4 million unique monthly users accessed its platform last quarter. With so many mobile users using Yelp, it only makes sense for the company to bring the smartphone app’s functionality in line with the desktop version. Now that users can publish their opinions on the go instead of until waiting they get home, it is likely that Yelp will see an influx of reviews – both positive and negative. Now more than ever, local businesses should be mindful of reviews left on Yelp and treat every costumer like a potential reviewer that must be impressed.
In addition to its mobile updates, Yelp has also taken action to strengthen the trustworthiness of its reviews. Like all anonymous and open systems, online review platforms like Yelp can be susceptible to gaming. Unfortunately, the volume of business that can be won and lost based on online ratings has led some to use dishonest tactics to take advantage of the system.
Last week, All Things D reported a troubling story about a Groupon employee caught threatening a restaurant owner with negative Yelp reviews if he didn’t list his business on Groupon. And on the other side of the coin, there have been numerous reports of business owners offering incentives to customers (discounts, cash, gift certificates, etc) in exchange for good reviews.
To this end, Yelp has begun adding disclaimers to businesses caught manipulating the system. Mashable reports that users will be greeted upfront with a warning (pictured above) that the business has been cheating the system when visiting an offending business’s page on Yelp.
For those businesses worrying about illegitimate negative reviews driving away business, Yelp spokesperson Vince Sollitto told All Things D that page owners can flag suspicious reviews to the Users Ops team, and can also publicly respond to reviews. As Yelp continues to grow as one of the preeminent digital local search providers, strengthening its commitment to honestly representing consumers and businesses will become increasingly important.