When it comes to local business reviews, there are many places a business can be listed online and reviewed, but there are still some definite front-runners. It then comes down to the age-old competition: Yelp vs. Google.

Yelp and Google local business reviews both come with pro and cons. This article will help you understand which business review sites you should focus on so you can streamline your efforts and be smart about how you use your resources. Which one deserves the bulk of your attention, and which should you put on the sidelines?

 


Google

While Google can encompass many things across the internet, for local business reviews it consists of Google My Business.

First came Google+ Local, which was then transitioned to Google Places, which has now morphed into Google My Business in June of 2014. Google My Business makes the management of local business data and business social pages more efficient. Google combined the best features of Google + and Google Places in an easy-to-use dashboard. Any business already on Google Places and Google+ have automatically been upgraded to Google My Business. Google My Business means that business owners waste less time, allowing them to spend more time actually running their business.
google local business reviews

 

PROS

  • Ability to manage your listing, location, reviews and content all from one place
  • SEO power to show your listing higher in qualified searches
  • Access to Maps, Google+ and Hangouts
  • Gmail Integration, whenever you post something new on your page and email your list, any Gmail users will see your latest post on the right side column
  • YouTube integration, showcase your videos easily on your channel and Google+ page
  • Ability to tap into Google data

CONS

  • Your Google+ content won’t show up as well for everyone as it will for people in your circle
  • Lack of audience for your Google+ content
  • Not as easy to search and navigate for a local business as Yelp

Yelp

Yelp, founded in 2004, is a local business review website, allowing people (whether they have been customer’s of the business or not) to leave reviews about any business, such a dentists, hair stylists and mechanics. With approximately 135 million unique monthly visitors in Q4 of 2014 and over 71 million local reviews, it’s a pretty influential place for local business reviews.

In addition to business reviews, you can find events, lists of local businesses and connect with other “Yelpers.” Every business owner (or manager) can setup a free Yelp for Business account where they can update their business information and respond to reviewers.

It is worth mentioning that Yelp makes money by selling ads to local businesses. While Yelp claims it is very church and state (i.e.: an advertiser on Yelp has no control over reviews), there have been a few lawsuits over the years that accuse Yelp of lying about their review policies. Despite the lawsuits, we can’t deny that Yelp is an extremely powerful platform.
Yelp local business reviews

 

PROS

  • Currently, the #1 site consumers turn to for local business reviews and recommendations
  • Community of ‘Yelpers’ who can influence where meet-ups are hosted in local areas
  • SEO advantages for local searches
  • High traffic
  • Accessibility, viewers don’t need an account to search for businesses, see business information or read reviews

CONS

  • Can filter out legitimate business reviews through the Yelp Review Filter
  • Pressure to purchase ads on Yelp
  • Yelp’s strict Terms of Service stating it can suspend your account at any time

Is Google or Yelp the Best Local Review Site for you?

While Google has been changing their management of reviews and local business listings over the past few years, they’ve come up with a great solution with Google My Business, making it easier than ever for local businesses to manage many aspects of their digital marketing through Google.

On the other hand, Yelp has established themselves as a local business powerhouse, building their credibility over time.

So which one should you choose? You’re not going to like the answer, but both. Right now, customers still equate Yelp with business reviews and Google is still in the process of building out their presence with local business reviews. By managing reviews on both Google and Yelp, you’ll help build your business’s presence on both sites — regardless of which platform comes out on top in the reviews match.
local business review draw

The Shifting Tides

While reviews are here to stay, where consumers will be going to read them and write them look to be changing.

While you should continue to respond to reviews on both Yelp and Google (and wherever else you may have business listings), it looks like Google is edging Yelp out of the game. With Yelp’s reported pushy behavior with local businesses buying advertising space on the platform and the Yelp Review Filter allegedly removing perfectly legitimate reviews, businesses are looking for somewhere else to go to display and respond to customer reviews.


 

16 thoughts on “Which Local Business Reviews are Better: Yelp or Google”

  1. I consider Yelp to be the epitome of “cyber maffia” A reviewer should be at liberty to submit a review whether positive or negative and whether or not they have ever before submitted an online review. I do not understand how Yelp gets away with their bullying attitude toward new reviewers. I would file a suit against them but I hear that has already failed by some who tried. They call and leave me messages weekly,vying for my business. Really? I’m going to pay them to sabotage my reviewers because they are not regular “yelpers?!” Down with the bullies and up with Google!

    1. I agree, if a reviewer took the time to leave a review, it’s probably worth something. I understand wanting to filter for reviews that are more qualified, but I’m not sure how this can be done effectively (and I don’t believe Yelp is doing it effectively). Thanks for your comment!

    2. I agree! Yelp has shifted from a reliable fun to use business tool to borderline extortion. Two verifiable examples: First, Their business assistance phone line will actually put you in touch with their ad sales department. When you tell them that the number is advertised for general assistance they will deny. Second, there is no way to email them with concerns and complaints. Which, as Yelp knows, makes it much harder to confront them and record their abuses. I have 2 5 star reviews both have been blocked. I offered to submit documentation to prove the reviews are real and they ignored me. Of course all this happened after I refused to advertise with them. I have moved to Google. Encourage fellow business owners to do the same!

  2. Thanks for the great article. I’d like to point out that Facebook is announcing something that let’s people see what places their friends like and have visited! This caused Yelps stock to drop dramatically!

    I’m doing research to solve a specific local retailer problem to help locally produced artisanal food makers have places to sell their low volume (and fresher) products: i.e. Gourmet Retail stores. To that end I’m starting GourmetRetailers.com – but I’m not sure how to attract enough people to share their favorite places… Any suggestions? I’ve set-up a Twitter account @RetailStores and Twitter.com/Retailstores – I’d appreciate any and all suggestions.

    Thanks!

  3. Google has already overtaken Yelp in the review wars. Here are the simple facts: Over 80% of Web searches are done via Google. Usually, any business’s very first Google search page notes its average Google review rating, three excerpts of its representative Google reviews, and an easily accessible link to read all of its reviews. Also, Google reviews appear before any other (talk about SEO!). The aforementioned facts especially apply to local businesses, but more often than not affect all others. Conversely, Yelp’s reputation for legitimacy has been eroding due to media reports about their alleged extortion schemes, bullying tactics, favoritism, improper deletion of valid reviews (positive or negative), and the like.

  4. I truly believe that Google will be the main review platform for both services and reviews. That includes the more specialized review sites such as Angie’s List (which charges up to 15% only to be passed on to the homeowner in shape or form), Home Advisor that (requires a large upfront fee to contractor plus an option for background checks for additional cost to contractor. Then they charge the contractor a fee for every lead submitted…which add up themselves).

    Most consumers click on organic traffic and now trust Google to supply it. One thing I like is the Google+ for personal or business. They verify the business as being legit the best they can and check for spam or bogus contractors. They are also difficult to fake thus consumers trust them more.

    So as I stated previously Google does a great job of weeding out the internet riff raff and providing their customers with relevant content and services. I trust Google+ reviews much more than most paid services.

    1. I tend to agree, Google doesn’t seem to have the fraud some review sites do but is much more accessible for business owners and consumers. I just wish it was a bit easier to access reviews (not that it’s incredibly difficult, it’s just not a huge priority in the knowledge boxes).

  5. This article leaves out the number of business owners being held up for ransom by Yelp.
    It is a despicable practice that Google, as well as Microsoft, should shut the door on.

    I see a massive lawsuit coming down the street and the enablers are going to be caught in the crossfire.

      1. There will be a group that documents and proves in another court their behavior.

        Or social media will take them down.

        I know four different business owners that have been held up by these crooks.

        Obviously it is hard to prove in a court of law without knowing they are responsible for the negative attacks but letting companies pay to have negative reviews removed is simply dishonest and negates the reason for the service,.

        1. I agree, and this is the reason why TripAdvisor had to have “trust” and “honest” removed from their slogan. Yelp’s simply set up their system and regulations differently.

  6. I object to Yelp placing ads on my “free” yelp page and telling me if I pay for advertising then I can have others’ ads removed, and only then.
    Their ad rates are high and they are relentless and pushy. Like buying a used car in Miami.

  7. I just sent this ‘back’ to Yelp…
    If you (Yelp) were truly an honest and ethical company, you’d stop purposely removing positive and legitimate reviews from businesses, and purposely leaving every poor one. You have now removed every one of my positive review for local companies I like, AND removed numerous positive reviews for my own business. I intend to tell every customer, contact, and Chamber member of your dishonest and unethical behavior, and do my best to give YELP as terrible a review as I possibly can.

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