Reviews help Yelp website soar

One of the most popular “hot and cold” websites out there is “Yelp,” a huge and growing site that allows users to review everything from restaurants to bars in your hometown or places you have visited.

One of the most popular “hot and cold” websites out there is “Yelp,” a huge and growing site that allows users to review everything from restaurants to bars in your hometown or places you have visited.

What gained Yelp some notoriety lately is a rumored bit from Google to buy the site, which has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. I think the site is quite interesting for a number of reasons.

One, a lot of the reviews appear to be honest and written by local residents and not just shills or the business owners themselves.

And the sheer depth of the site makes it a great choice if you tend to travel a lot or just want to find a good dentist in a new city.

For example, if you are travelling to a strange city (well, a new city not necessarily a strange city like Rabbit Hash, Kentucky) you can head to the site and look for hotels and restaurants and places to go with some honest reviews. I think that’s a major plus when compared to other sites out there that tend to be travel-focused exclusively or even rivals like CitySearch which just seem more impersonal.

I have looked at a few cities with which I am very familiar and found the reviews to be pretty spot-on for the most part. The smaller towns, understandably, have less content but the Chicago content was accurate and well-rated. (Users can rank the content providers and many seem to be competing for points.) I believe the small town aspect of the site will grow as more people in the Midwest find out it is there.

The site was founded in San Francisco in 2004 and since then it has spread across the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Just last month the site drew 26 million unique visitors and the users, called “Yelpers,” piled on their 8 millionth review. So it is a pretty impressive collection for free.

Like everything else, the “grain of salt” rule applies on Yelp as well. Some reviews are clearly written by people with an axe to grind … in some cases obviously competitors of businesses or employees of competing firms. Others are written by morons. Some are written by the barely literate. But the vast majority are fair and surprisingly complete. The site does not do any editorial management of the content so be careful when you make decisions based on a few comments. However, once you have more than a handful of comments you generally can see a trend developing, especially in a decent city.

The other area you have to focus on is your own participation. If you have good or bad experiences and you patronize Yelp, you owe it to the community to give something back. Write some reviews of your own and see how it grows.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim(at)cyberdads.com

Just Posted

Trudeau: no apologies for heckler encounter, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

OTTAWA — Hate speech and the politics of division are creating a… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP charge woman with drug trafficking

Rocky Mountain House RCMP have charged a woman with drug trafficking after… Continue reading

Officials report some headway on wildfires, but thick smoke hangs over B.C.

Wildfire crews report some headway was made over the weekend battling hundreds… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Albertans learn about farm life at Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Pioneer Days Festival in Red Deer Saturday-Sunday

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the… Continue reading

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

ESCUMINAC, N.B. — Ottawa has announced $189 million for an employment insurance… Continue reading

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in next year’s election

MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau will run again in the 2019 federal election.… Continue reading

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

VANCOUVER — More smoky, hazy air is expected to blanket much of… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline protesters released days before weeklong jail sentences end

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. — Several pipeline protesters were released from a British… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month