A new deal between Yahoo and Yelp looks set to shake up the local search market. Emerging on Friday, the deal involves building Yelp’s reviews and local data into Yahoo’s search results in an attempt to make it more relevant to people trying to find local businesses. When the deal became public, it saw Yelp’s share price rise by 3.7%.
Although the deal is not exclusive and Yelp already has a similar arrangement with Microsoft, word is that Yahoo hopes it will give it an edge over rival search engines. Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, then working for Google, was involved in a failed attempt to buy Yelp in 2009. Yahoo and Yelp are now in very different positions, with the former’s share of the search market having fallen by 3% while the latter has grown by over 30%. Despite the number of users it attracts, however, Yelp has struggled to monetize its services effectively; therefore, any increase in revenue is a big help. Yahoo gets about one-third of its revenue from search ads.
Google has since purchased one of Yelp’s biggest competitors, Zagat, giving it access to similar data. Microsoft’s recent deal with Foursquare makes Yahoo’s move all the more important if it is to get ahead in the highly competitive local search market.
As far as businesses are concerned, the deal is a big plus and means that their existing Yelp profiles will have much wider reach with no extra effort required on their part. It does mean, however, that bad reviews on Yelp could have more of an impact; therefore, it is all the more worthwhile taking the time to seek out good reviews. This can be as simple as placing a link on the company website and asking satisfied customers to recommend it, or as direct as talking to customers who are happy about their purchases when they visit company premises and asking them directly if they would be willing to write reviews. As this does not involve aggressive online solicitation and there is no suggestion that fake reviews will be written as a result, this kind of action is entirely within the rules.
Yelp content is expected to start showing up in Yahoo searches in just a few weeks’ time. It will include pictures, which is likely to be particularly useful in giving businesses increased local visibility.