Yelp is an online local directory for businesses that also has a social networking component where users can leave reviews and connect with their friends who visit the venues. Yelp was created in 2004 and, by the end of 2012, had more than 100 million monthly unique visitors.
Profiles for businesses owners and users are free. Business accounts get access to additional free tools and can pay to advertise on the platform.
Businesses on Yelp get exposure to thousands of local users who use the platform to search for restaurants, retails centers, and service providers. Yelp also allows businesses to tap into the Yelp community with Check-In offers, Yelp deals, event reminders, and the ability to send messages directly to customers. You can also import your reviews from your Facebook fan page. For the most part, Yelp isn’t a destination for Web surfers to rant wildly about their least favorite restaurant — in fact, out of all of Yelp’s reviews, 85 percent of them have ratings that are three stars or higher, meaning many people come to talk about their positive experiences rather than the negative ones.
Even if a business didn’t sign up for a Yelp account, their business may still have a profile based on third-party data or Yelp user reviews. Yelp has an active review filter that will sometimes prevent legitimate reviews from customers from being shown. There will always be some negative comments from somewhere and businesses have little control on which reviews remain on their Yelp profile.