Yesterday evening, the rumor mill churned to life when TechCrunch broke a monstrous story – that Google is in final negotiations to purchase Yelp.com. Today the blogosphere lit up with commentary, from tech pundits like Robert Scoble to everyday-life bloggers like LifeHacker. Of course, nothing has been confirmed yet – but even if you don’t know both companies well, the sheer number of people talking about it have to tell you something. This is huge.
For those of you who don’t know, Google’s Local Business Center allows businesses of all sizes to create and edit their listing on Google Maps. Yelp, on the other hand, is a site that focuses on user reviews of local businesses. It has a much more social tone to it, as users interact and give feedback to each other as well as hair stylists, art supply stores and other local companies. Both are important ways that potential customers can find you.
At Everon, we advise our clients to build up a presence on sites like Yelp and Google Maps – becoming established on both can lead to increased website, phone and foot traffic.
So Why is This Important?
Mike Blumenthal’s thoughts on the potential Google-Yelp acquisition give a lot of insight into why this should matter to you. Mike talks about how he uses both sites. He sees Google Maps as being more for ‘recovery’ – finding a place that you already know about, such as when you’re looking for the nearest Starbucks. Just whip out the iPhone and a few keystrokes later, you’ve got its address and directions how to get there.
Yelp, on the other hand, is more for discovery – because of the large number of user reviews, people go to it when they’re looking for, say, an auto mechanic. They decide to try one out based on reviews from people they trust.
Now, I’m not sure that I agree that Google Maps doesn’t allow for discovery – just the other day, I found a new pizza place by typing ‘Pizza Denver’ into Google. (Although I might have found a better place had I used Yelp).
Regardless, it’s tough not to see what an impact these two companies merging would have. By acquiring Yelp, Google can fill out its listings with a ton of user reviews, and further solidify itself as the online-yellow-pages-of-choice.
How Can You Take Advantage?
Your company should make sure you’re listed. You should also set up a program to encourage your customers to give you online reviews. If you build this out now, by the time anything happens with Google and Yelp, you’ll already be far ahead of your competition when someone is looking for your product.
(And if the merger is just another rumor that doesn’t happen, you’ll still be far ahead of the game.)
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist