Can Yelp Stand Up To Google, Or Is Google Already The New Yelp?

Can Yelp Stand Up To Google, Or Is Google Already The New Yelp?

When Yelp first exploded onto the local search scene, they quickly established themselves as the 21st century equivalent of a phone book. For awhile, anyone visiting a restaurant, local business, or hotel for the first time would check the reviews on Yelp beforehand. And while Google might dominate search traffic overall, Yelp carved out a comfortable niche in this space — at least, until the summer of 2015.

This summer, Google is coming for Yelp’s niche. Although Google’s social media site Google+ failed to reach critical mass, the Silicon Valley giant did find a way to make the service viable. Small businesses who want to show up on local searches must sign up for a Google+ business or brand page before they can show up on Google services like Google Maps.

More and more consumers are using their phones to find local businesses. By 2013, 63% of adult cell phone users went online with their smartphone, and 34% of them primarily accessed the Web using their mobile devices. Plus, worldwide mobile advertising will grow by three-and-a-half times its current size by next year. And as those consumers use social media and local search to find new businesses to patronize, Google is well positioned to dominate this traffic.

So far, Yelp has reported that its mobile traffic has dropped 3% over the last year, with desktop traffic slipping, too. It’s one of the first traffic losses ever reported by the company. And Google’s not the only massive tech company posing a threat to Yelp’s niche. Social media companies like Pinterest, as well as retailers like Amazon, are experimenting with local search directories and recommendation services, too. As that happens, sites like Angie’s List and CitySearch are also reporting traffic declines for the year.

In Colorado, local businesses often invest in a Denver social media agency or search engine optimization services. And the best web designers Denver has to offer say that the overwhelming majority of businesses don’t care whether their customers come from Google, Yelp, or Angie’s List, they just want a reliable pipelines of new leads and customers. And to be blunt, Yelp is hardly popular among local businesses.

That means Google is well placed to enter this space and dominate, just like it already has with email, maps, search, and digital advertising.