Yahoo's Yelp Partnership Wipes Out Old Local Business Reviews

Yahoo Local Yelp Review PaseoIf you're a business owner, then you know how important great online reviews are for the success of your business. Even if all the reviews aren't awesome, they still give potential customers a great overview of how others view your business, both the good and the bad.

The more reviews a business has, the better. This is something that businesses often have to work for.

Certain types of businesses are a lot harder to get reviews for. Customers tend to more frequently leave bad reviews about bad experiences with a business, and tend to not leave a review when they have a great experience.

Many business owners have built up a great Yahoo Local profile with lots of great reviews. So when Yahoo Local decided to partner with Yelp on reviews, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Yelp is very popular for leaving business reviews, and it would certainly help businesses to have reviews from a very well-known review system.

But what many Yahoo Local users are now discovering with the Yelp changeover is that years worth of reviews are being replaced in favor of a single Yelp review. As soon as a business gets its first Yelp review, Yahoo removes all the old Yahoo Local reviews, regardless of how many they have, rather than archiving them in some format.

When users go and look at the businesses to see the reviews, it's pretty common for users to bypass those businesses that only have a single review, in favor of those businesses that have a longer history of reviews.

In the case of Colonial Hardwood Flooring of Lexington, Massachusetts, they lost six years and nearly 50 Yahoo reviews when they were all replaced by a single Yelp review. As reported by the WSJ:

"It's a slap in the face that they took all those reviews down overnight," says Mr. Tringale, who refinishes floors in residential and commercial buildings. The 54-year-old, who works alone on two or three jobs a week, says about 30% of his business comes from online searches.

Potential customers, he frets, might begin to turn to competitors with more robust listings. "It's not easy to get 50 great reviews," he says. In terms of his online reputation, it's as if Yahoo "just took away six or seven years of hard work."

Because the Yahoo reviews are completely wiped out, it's impossible for business owners to lead potential customers to their older Yahoo Local reviews, and if they decide to post on the website, there's absolutely no way for a potential customer to verify it.

This was a huge mistake, even if Yahoo believes that Yelp reviews are more trustworthy. The fact they are throwing away six or more years of reviews for their Yahoo Local users is poor customer service, at a time when they want to retain Yahoo users.

Yahoo's stance is that Yelp reviews are when the most trusted sources of business reviews, which is implying they felt their own reviews were not trustworthy.

Yahoo declined to comment on specific businesses. "We partnered with Yelp, one of the most trusted, relevant sources of consumer business reviews, to provide a richer search experience for Yahoo users," says a spokeswoman for the Sunnyvale, Calif., company. "That's why when Yelp's reviews are available for U.S. businesses, they will replace Yahoo Local reviews."

Yelp officially announced the deal with Yahoo in March. Anand Chandrasekaran, the Yahoo search product leader who spearheaded the Yahoo-Yelp partnership, is no longer with Yahoo less than a month later, having left to join Bharti Airtel.

Yahoo Local isn't the only search engine to have foregone their own local reviews to switch to Yelp. Bing partnered with Yelp in 2012 to include not only reviews, but ratings, images, and more.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.