You know a little bit about what Yelp is now, so how does the website specifically work? Who makes what happens on Yelp, well, happen? And what does each of these specific groups of people do? Here's a breakdown of what Yelp is all about, and who is responsible for it.
One of the Internet's largest local business directories
Yelp adds and edits their information on local businesses based on a variety of sources. Some of it comes from publicly-available sources, such as advertisements, websites, and listings elsewhere. Sometimes, Yelp's users will spill the beans on the newest joint in town, or patch up some information that's out-of-date or not quite right on an existing spot. Business owners can even put their own company information on Yelp themselves!
Search for a specific business by name and/or location, or browse businesses of a certain type. You can also filter and sort your results on a variety of factors. What do they specifically do? Who has the best ratings? What neighbourhood are they in? How pricey are they? Do they accept credit cards, or cash/debit only? Are they open now? Do they have a promotion on?
Learn about a business from top to bottom. Get their telephone number, website address, a description of what they do, a map of where they are, and even some pictures of what their store or work looks like. Certain businesses will even have custom videos, or "Call to Action" banners that will point you towards something cool going on with them right now!
Ratings and reviews help you shop smart
A big part of being a Yelp user is rating and writing reviews for businesses that you've been a customer at. Each business that has at least one review has an average star rating, from 1 to 5; you can check how it got that rating by seeing who rated it "hot", and who rated it "not-so-hot".
You can sort reviews for a business by what Yelp thinks are the most useful ones, the date they were posted, the rating that the user gave, or by what the most trusted Yelp contributors had to say. You can also search for something specific in a review, and even view reviews in different languages.
If you like a review, you can mark it as "Useful", "Funny", and/or "Cool". You can also "flag" it if you think it breaks the rules for what should go into a review on Yelp. Better yet, write your own reviews and let the Yelp community know what you think about the places that you've done business with!
Know somebody who's looking for advice on a certain business? You can share a review that you find useful by sending an email, or by posting it on your Facebook or Twitter account.
Join the community, and become an Elite
Yelp is more than just a place to find, rate, and review local businesses. It's a thriving social community. If there's someone you know on Yelp, or who seems really in-the-know about the great companies in your area, you can ask to become friends with that person, or choose to "follow" them so that you never miss their latest review.
Got something on your mind that you want to say to or ask a particular Yelp user? Send a private message to them, so that nobody will know what you're talking about but you two. Or, if you're a fan of their profile, picture, or review writing, send them a "Compliment", and it will show up on their profile as a badge of honour for everyone to admire!
Head over to the "Talk" pages and post topics and messages to start a discussion or keep it going. You can chat with other Yelp users about the local businesses, food, news and politics, entertainment, or just about anything else you want.
Spruce up your own profile, befriend and compliment others regularly, and keep writing honest reviews as often as you can… you just might become one of Yelp's Elites. Not only will it get you special recognition and huge respect within Yelp's community of users, but you can also earn free stuff and get invited to exclusive parties!