Though Yelp helps you find popular local businesses, it is also a business itself, and so it has to make money somehow. The main question, though, is: whose pocket is that money coming out of? Read on to find out.
For regular Yelp users, the answer is a definite "yes". It costs you no money to do any of these things on Yelp:
Browse or search for local businesses
Read ratings and reviews of businesses
Create an account
Rate and review a business
Comment on or label another user's review
Send a private message to another user
Post a message on a message board
For business owners who want to list their businesses on Yelp, the answer is "sort of". It doesn't cost them money to put up basic profiles with registered details for their businesses on Yelp, but there are certain features of Yelp that they are only able to use by paying a monthly fee. This is how Yelp makes the bulk of its money.
The main way that Yelp generates revenue is, as explained above, selling advertising package subscriptions to companies that list their businesses on Yelp. Among the features included in these packages include placing advertisements for a business on pages of similar businesses in the area, as well as blocking some advertisements from competing businesses on one's own page. These kinds of advertisements will appear on Yelp like in the screenshot below (notice that the listing says "Ad" on it):
Some advertising packages will even include things such as custom videos and a "Call to Action" button, which lets a business owner draw attention to a feature or offer for their business that they really want potential customers to know about!
In addition to selling advertising packages to local businesses that post listings on Yelp, Yelp also sells advertising space to larger companies as well, such as this advertisement for Jeep:
And that's a little bit about how Yelp makes money!
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