Writing on his blog, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stottelman discusses two changes:
- The end of Yelp's policy of allowing advertisers to pick a clearly labeled "favorite review" to put at the top of their Yelp page, over concerns it's creating confusion about whether Yelp gives advertisers special treatment. Hello, isn't that a major factor in why a business would advertise on Yelp -- so they can be cast in a more favorable light? That favorite review was a key part of the advertising package. Get ready for a big dip in paid ads on the site.
- Instead of letting their spam filter rid the site of suspiciously gushy praise and obvious sniping from competitors, new "transparency" efforts will allow site visitors to view everything the filter took out. This begs the question of why Yelp bothers to have a filter at all going forward. After businesses protest on this one, look for Yelp to give business owners a way for only them to see what's been filtered out about their company, instead of the whole world.
Instead of these moves, a level playing field would be better achieved by getting rid of Yelp's secret algorithm which more prominently features the posts of frequent reviewers over newbies, among other metrics. Unfortunately, that wasn't one of the changes made.
In another move intended to show business owners they care, Yelp is creating a Small Business Advisory Council to give them more guidance about their concerns. Yelp will have a better chance of appeasing angry business owners if the council includes those dissatisfied with how Yelp operates, and Yelp managers listen carefully to what they have to say.
Photo via Flickr user Adventures of Pam & Frank