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October 16, 2013 Review: Why Yelp is Killing Businesses

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In a recent review, I caught up with chief operating officer Mike Zammuto and discussed why Yelp is killing businesses.

Mike oversaw’s purchase for $500,000, which is also the largest domain name purchase in 2013.

The domain name purchase was covered in an article by TechCrunch and it has been verified by the DN Journal; shortly after, dozens of reviews  have been springing up. This caught my attention and I decided to dig into it.

I find’s approach to promoting its brand fascinating, so I reached out to Mike to ask him a few questions. I asked about the reason behind the domain name purchase, which I will be covering in another post, as well as Mike’s thought on how businesses can protect their online reputations in the Yelp generation.

What stunned me most, however, was Mike’s response when I asked him what he thought Yelp means for businesses when it comes to branding; I was surprised by his answer. Review: Why Yelp is a Threat to Businesses

When I asked him if Yelp poses any threat to businesses, Mike’s response wasn’t in anyway ambiguous. His response was short and to the point, and I quote him: “Yelp poses a threat to all businesses.”

In other words, as long as you own a business of any kind, you should take measures to protect your business from Yelp. This response didn’t surprise me since I was recently reading a report on how Yelp has surpassed 100 million monthly visitors; yes, that’s 100 million visitors in a month to the website. This doesn’t include the usage of apps and traffic to other sources powered by Yelp.

Some interesting stats about for the month of January 2013:

  • There were more than 100 million unique visitors;
  • There were 9.4 million unique visitors;
  • 4,596,760 calls were generated through the Yelp mobile app;
  • 1,964,247 bookmarks were created on Yelp;
  • 9.4 million unique devices were used the Yelp mobile app;
  • More than one million reviews were written on Yelp;
  • Consumers generated directions or called a local business from the mobile app EVERY SECOND;
  • A survey revealed Yelp influenced around $10 billion in local commerce.

It’s important to note that the above stats are only for January 2013. Judging from this, I will agree with Mike that Yelp is indeed a threat to businesses.

According to Mike, anyone can post a negative review about your business on Yelp, whether it is a disgruntled employee or a customer that isn’t satisfied, and these reviews can never be remove from the site. So you can see how it would be very damaging to have negative review is posted about your business when little can be done to verify the review posted.

The Solution isn’t Posting Your Own Positive Reviews on Yelp

This is the most surprising part of Mike’s answer. When I asked Mike if anything can be done when negative reviews are posted about businesses on Yelp, his answer isn’t what most business owners would expect.

According to Mike, the solution isn’t to post your own positive reviews on Yelp or to encourage customers to do so. In Mike’s words, “businesses should not engage with or encourage its customers to post even positive results on Yelp! because it will make the site rank higher. Businesses should use our review technology to add reviews to their own site and encourage customers to comment there.

Instead, Mike suggested that businesses should encourage customers to post reviews on their own sites.

Whether positive or negative, every review posted on Yelp only helps the site move up in the search engines. While your aim might be to let the positive results shine, you’ll also be showcasing the negative results in the process. By bringing the reviews to your own site, your site will be able to move up the search engine rankings. These reviews will then be found by customers when they are perusing your website.

Based on this review, I think what Mike is saying shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt.


Karl McDonald loves to discuss marketing topics, interviewing experts, as a way to build his profile online. His work has been published on several reputable sites including and the SimplyHired blog.