How To Yelp

Every time I step foot into a restaurant or business, I always take out my iPhone. Some might say that it’s a typical sign of my generation – attached at the cheek/thumb to our smart phones, constantly distracted over choosing not to engage in reality. But if you could see the screen, you’d know I am simply checking into my Yelp application – ready to soak in the experience I’m about to have, so I can blog about it later for the masses. Yelping has changed the way I approach interacting with businesses, and provides platforms that are Gen Y-relevant (like a mobile app that features competitive location-based check-ins and awards). Here are some tips to get Yelping!

Don’t just be another (non)face in the crowd

Be sure to complete a user profile and tell me a little about you – especially what type of foods you like, (helpful when you’re reviewing a place I am interested in). A pro Yelper recommends that you always show off your face. It gives you street cred to other Yelpers, as well as Yelp businesses. Would you take a review seriously if the reviewer had a picture of their dog? I sure wouldn’t. But I would believe someone who is confident in their review enough to show their face.

Let’s be friends

Just like other social networks, it’s more fun when you have friends. Friend people you think have interesting reviews that fit your interests. Add friends from Facebook! Use the member search or the Invite Friends feature to add to our list. You can also connect your Yelp to Facebook – so you can tell your Facebook friends when you’ve checked into a business or want to share your reviews.

Don’t be a lurker, write a review

Part of the fun about Yelp is participating in the reviews. Take a spin around and get to know what others typically write about. Then, make sure you go into an experience with as much of an unbiased view as possible, and just enjoy it. For example, when dining I sometimes I take notes throughout the meal so I don’t forget anything. I like my dining reviews to cover the following: menu variety, food taste, service, price, waiting time/time for food delivery, ambiance, and bathrooms (always the bathrooms). But you can do it however way you want – as long as you just write!

Don’t just stick to dining

I often get stuck in the restaurant review cycle – I feel like I rarely review something that isn’t food-related. But when looking for services and non-dining businesses, I also look to Yelp. So be sure to review any and all businesses that you can contribute recommendations. Have something interesting to say about your eye doctor? Add it here!

Find an angle

The best reviews I’ve read are always written with an angle behind them. I didn’t think I wrote interesting reviews until I was diagnosed as a celiac, doomed to eat gluten-free food forever. After that, I wrote all about gluten-free menus and finds throughout the state (and on vacation). Writing with an angle (or a purpose) will make your reviews engaging – and in my case, helpful! Be known as a sushi connoisseur. Write reviews about dining with small children. Just write about something that makes you stand out.

Don’t just write what you hate

Sometimes I’ll be tempted to only write scathing reviews on Yelp. That waiter was terrible! I’d rather drink hand sanitizer than use their bathrooms! But, sometimes the best reviews are the positive ones! Tell me what you liked about the place – what parts of the menu are great, what wine pairings did the server suggest, etc. Now, if the place merits a terrible review, certainly give it one. However, finding pros and cons to each experience, and adding positive reviews to the mix give you street cred as a Yelper. No one wants to be Yelp friends with a Debbie Downer.

Dive into more Yelp

Extend your Yelp experience by being part of the community. First, subscribe to the Yelp newsletter, you’ll get weekly insights into new businesses that people are going crazy over. Explore new openings in your city to find out about something new. Check out the Yelp events calendar on the homepage (click on the “Event” link). Follow that to popular events in your area, and events from your friends and followers. Reach out to Yelp royalty, like community leaders and Yelp Elite. And attend Yelp parties – they are the most fun events around town (but you’ve got to subscribe to the newsletters to be in the know!).

The Yelp app completes the journey

Available for iPhone and Android, the Yelp app is an important part of the Yelp experience. It not only combines the ability to draft reviews (you can’t write a full review on the app, but it will save on your profile), but also creates a location-based game that rivals the fun of Foursquare. Checking into business also unlocks awesome coupons (like a 50% off coupon from Mojo yogurt) – so remember to use the app early in the visit (before paying) and often!

Pro-tip: Use Yelp for your business!

My friend/awesome realtor (featured in my earlier column), Josh uses Yelp personally AND for his family real estate business. Being a realtor, Josh is always meeting clients at coffee shops or eateries, and checks in and leaves great reviews. He also reviews realty-related businesses. But on the business end, he set up a Yelp business account for his company – and it’s got some awesome realty reviews so far! Use Yelp for your business to garner real consumer feedback, and provide another way for potential customers to see how great you really are!

Any Gen Y Yelpers out there that can add to the experience? Tell me in the comments.

Erica Dermer I'm a qualitative market research nerd from Arizona, formerly a boutique agency planner, working with numerous different industries. I'm constantly looking for LOLZ through qualitative research, advertising, insights, and blogging. I'm addicted to social networking. Let's be friends.

View all posts by Erica Dermer

34 Responses to “How To Yelp”

  1. Kimeberley Mosher

    I’m a HUGE fan of Yelp, and there are some serious perks to being an active and thoughtful member of the community. I’ve became an Elite for 2011, which has allowed me to get awesome event invites, cool perks and sweet freebies!

    Great post.

    • Erica

      Oh man, i’d LOVE to be an Elite member. My friends are, but I just haven’t committed to it yet. The events that I’ve been to in Phoenix have been AMAZING. Seriously, so much fun. Yelp is a GREAT company, and I’m totally loyal to them. Then again, I’m also in it for the dukedoms. :)

  2. Joshua Hill

    Thanks for the mention, Erica! We also love Yelp and are glad to see it getting more coverage from bloggers like you. The more members that join it, the more relevant and useful it will be. SYOY!

    • Erica

      I can’t wait until we double date and race to see who can review the restaurant the quickest afterwards, and who gets the most compliments on it!

  3. Erica

    Thanks for all the article shares, everyone! I want to give major shout-outs to Gabi M. (the Director of Marketing for Yelp Central) for being a Yelping inspiration. She gave me some pro-tips for this article! I think I’m going to start using the events calendar more, it’s REALLY interesting! Thanks again to all my Yelping buddies (like Josh) who post great reviews all the time that motivate me to go out and review more! However, If I don’t get another Dukedom soon – I’m going to throw a queen-sized temper tantrum!

  4. Meredith

    Great article. I’m currently working towards becoming Elite! This article has given me that extra boost of motivation. People ARE out there reading and I DO have great reviews to write! I’ll be sure to start including gluten-free info for you, Erica. I have a half dozen close friends whom are “doomed” to the same lifestyle and I often join in for weeks at a time. It’s not so bad, when you know where to go! Thanks to Yelp, for sure.

    • Erica

      Thanks for thinking of me and the rest of the gluten-free community! We appreciate it!

  5. linda

    All this is so fun, and I like Yelp…mostly. But I have to tell you the word on the street is spreading about the aggressive Yelp Review Filter. Bad PR. I know it is yelp perogative, that’s their nitch – unbiased reviews…blah, blah, blah.
    My biz had 13 reviews, all removed along with my rating. The other day a Yelper reviewed me, I was so excited, but alas, that one gone after only 4 days. Back to 0.
    Just sayin…

    • Diamond Mazda

      CEO Jeremy Stoppelman says that this is for the INTEGRITY OF YELP. How is that integrity? Postive reviews (GENUINE REVIEWS) REMOVED…NEGATIVE REVIEWS REMAIN FOREVER!!

  6. Jeff Sibbach


    I have been only tipping my toes in the Yelp pool but now thanks to your article and reference of top notch realtor Josh Hill from the Hill Group, I know it is time to dive in. Thanks for the great informative article that gives me a road map to success!

  7. Ed Drummond


    Awesome article! Only after I read this did I realize I’ve been a lurker too long! Looks like its time for me to get with the program.

    Props to Josh and his real estate team. The way they are utilizing Yelp is a game changer! Look forward to reading more reviews from both of you!

  8. Kristin

    Yelp Talk helped me get the latest news on what’s happening and helped me get to know the others in the community. Sending compliments and getting to know fellow Yelpers is key!

    Elite San Francisco is the best! 2010 and 2011 had some great events. Sadly, though, I moved home… but I would LOVE to start having Elite events back here in Michigan.

  9. Jen

    Hi Erica! Thanks for this great post on how to use Yelp! I think this is all great advice — coming from a Providence Yelp Elite member!

    I hope you get more involved in your community and earn your Elite badge in 2012!

  10. Cristina

    Erica, I’ve become a Yelp “junkie”. I love using the site to find great new places-restaurants as well as services, like a great dog groomer, or excellent hotel. I wrote a good review of a restaurant and was floored when I received a message from the owner thanking me for the good review. Now I’m definitely going back. What a cool tool for both consumers and businesses! -oh, and it’s fun too!

    • Roger Groseclose

      Thank you for your yelp. I to also like to write reviews, not allways good. I like to inform people about the greedy wicked places as well. We Americans (I think) are getting fed up with the GREED out there. Please lets get back to the fair play and good morals.

      Roger Groseclose

  11. LInda Gilley-Port A Seafood Co.

    Thank you Erica. We found out about Yelp through our customers! Once we got on line to see where all the great PR was coming from, we started maintaining our business site. I am still relatively new to the “online – almost LIVE” way all our new smart phones have opened opportunities to, but I am learning. We are now considering using Yelp for some of our advertising needs and have been so impressed with Yelp employees. Carter from Florida has been helping us and is great. I will continue to read all the info available as posts like yours offer great insight. Thank you again!

  12. Rita

    Can someone please tell me how I can change my phone number in my business listing. When I try to do it I get a message that says a moderator has to verify the change but no one has contacted me! How do I reach the appropriate moderator? Rita

    • Erica

      Please know that I’m not affiliated with Yelp, other than loving their business. Please contact Yelp via their contact page and check out their FAQ’s. Also, you can ping Yelp on Twitter or on their Facebook page!

  13. Cindy

    I’m a frustrated businessperson. The one negative review the business has was posted by someone who had only done one yelp review, ever, and had only had several drawings done by the business, never used any of the company’s full service. It stands. The one very positive review was “filtered”, and that customer had an entire home designed and built by the company, and was clearly completely satisfied.

    This presents an entirely skewed view. So the filter has malfunctioned. How does the company address this? There doesn’t seem to be a way.

    I’m giving up on Yelp – if anyone asks I tell them to use Google Places. It is just too difficult to get Yelp to be fair, and I am not in a position to purchase ads (nor do I think it is ethical to ask that in order to get the positive review visible).
    I used to use Yelp a lot, but knowing how flawed the filter is I don’t anymore.

    • Kacy

      The filter doesn’t have anything to do with advertisers, Cindy, because they have filtered reviews too. I use Yelp more than any of the other sites because it’s the only one that does try to target fake reviews even if it does catch real ones too sometimes. I don’t trust citysearch or google when I don’t see any attempt to separate paid for reviews from real ones. I think it will be impossible though to ever be able to 100% know which reviews are real or fake just by looking at them so at least it’s doing the best job it can instead of not trying.

  14. Tracy Cameron

    Your site is great for doing things like looking for a restaurant while travelling but your Yelp deals is horrible!! This site really should follow the example set my Groupon. It is so easy to purchase and use ffrom them and their customer service is amazing…you can even talk to a real human!! Yelp customer service is by email only and you get a message saying they will answer within a week. Will stick with Groupon for future deals!

  15. Eric Blair

    As some of the comments have noted, there is a major and growing problem with the filtering system used by Yelp. I speak from my own experience: I recently joined Yelp and posted over time five honest reviews – places I actually went to in my town, gave my honest impressions in concise, civil language. I found some places good, others, not so, etc. I have no professional relationship with any of them. All five reviews were gone within two days of their being posted. Don’t tell me something isn’t wrong or that the system is of course “not perfect” Statistically extrapolating from my experience, thousand of honest reviews are disappearing, which means that the filtering mechanism is deeply flawed or that something else is going on. I now do not trust or use Yelp. In this I am not alone.

  16. Love Horoscope

    Hi Erica,

    How trustworthy are the reviews these days? I dabbled a bit in internet marketing a few years back and know that people were readily selling glowing reviews or terrible fake bad reviews. Have they taken any major steps to correct this lately? I’ve honestly stopped listening to review sites like Yelp and only really trust Amazon reviews.

    Thanks for the read!

  17. Yelp me! « talentim

    [...] How to yelp ( 48.539360 12.180675 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInTumblrPinterestStumbleUponEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  18. Dorothy Wynn

    I purchased a Serta Queen Icomfort Genius Mattress, extra firm, from American Mattress, located at 4600 W. Diversey in Chicago on December 1, 2012. The total cost of the mattress was $1,576.00. I purchased this mattress because I have slipped disc in my back and my doctor recommended that I purchase an extra firm mattress.

    The firmness of the mattress only lasted for five months. I returned to American Mattress to inform them that the mattress was no longer firm and it was sinking in after 5 months. They sent an inspector out to look at the mattress and used a string to measure the firmness of the mattress, but would not sit or touch the mattress to measure the firmness. The inspector insisted that the mattress was still firm. Not satisfied with his inspection, I then contacted Serta Mattress company and they informed me that they could not help me, that I must go back to where the mattress was purchased. To date no one has been able to replace my mattress. I will be informing everyone I know not to purchase any mattresses from American Mattress because they do not stand by their mattresses and no replacement or refund will be given. I am out of $1500. and still can’t sleep comfortable. PLEASE HELP ME.

  19. Rita

    I moved recently and used movers & groovers out of Charleston SC. They were so helpful & made this process stress free. Thanks Josh & all the others involved in this move. Couldn’t have done it without you guys!


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