- Reviews are organized by city and in larger cities, by neighborhood. This allows you to learn how your particular store or stores are doing.
- Reviews are screened for legitimacy and relevance. Consumer review sites took a hit with the news of businesses paying people to post positive reviews and with many reviews looking more like bragging or personal attacks than a genuine desire to help other consumers. Yelp seems to have addressed the problems.
- There are stories and numbers. Research at Ohio State University found that, overall, stories of customer experiences are much more powerful than numeric ratings in influencing consumers' decisions. Yelp reviews consist of brief stories, and posters are scolded if their stories are second-hand or hearsay. But for those who like numbers, they're there, too. Yelp is rolling out rating distribution charts and charts of how the ratings of a business have changed over time.
- There are tools for business operators. For instance, the site includes suggested phrasing to use in responding to negative reviews. You can track how many people are looking at the information on your business and get basic information about the people who posted a review of your business.
Yelp now sets the standard for consumer review sites. Yelp currently is limited to covering business in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Ireland. According to an article last week in E-Commerce Times, Google is currently in talks to acquire Yelp. If this happens, I'd expect the growth of Yelp to be exponential.