Having been getting unwanted attention as to its user scoring of local establishments, and being accused of biasing results based on lack of business owner advertising, the tech company is calling out its competition.
Google Places, the dominant repository for all things geo-centric, has stiff competition, as Yelp local data claims itself to be more accurate. That however, is very difficult, as dynamic as the small business world is with menu and inventory changes, management changes, and business closures.
Yelp Local Data by the Numbers
To prove its assertion that Yelp local data bests all others, the company contacted 1,000 businesses in various categories and different locations. It then “hand verified” each establishment as well as all competitors.
The review site then scored said companies, giving this explanation, “we gave each data provider 1 point for each correct datum and 0 points for each incorrect or missing datum”.
As the nearby chart indicates, Yelp took second place behind Google. Though these results are a result of self testing, without any verification. However, the review site welcomes data requests, interested parties may contact the company directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The company pledged earlier in the year better self policing of its reviews.
Local Data Challenges
The problem for Yelp, as well as Facebook, and other sites like Foursquare, is the fact that businesses are in business to do business, which means having to make periodic changes. To keep themselves competitive, restaurants, for example, change their menus. Retailers change up their featured products as consumer trends evolve. Hotels also make periodic changes, in an attempt to better serve their guests.
This means having to keep tabs on every company appearing in the local directory. Owners retire, managers change, businesses remodel and re-brand. Because of dynamics, it’s not uncommon to see errors in local listings.
Yelp serves thousands of businesses and acquired an online reservation company, SeatMe, for $12.7 million in cash and company stock. The review site did well in the second quarter of the year but has not yet turned a profit. The company recently was recently part of a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of New York state, which found scores of fake reviews on Yelp as well as other like sites.