Think of Yelp as the social network of local reviews. Yelp describes themselves as a fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great (and not so great) in your World. Users and visitors probably use it the most for reviews of restaurants and stores, however there are reviews for just about anything you can think of like automotive services, other websites, professional services, etc.
Cities typically have their own city guides, but Yelp is the “Ultimate” city guide with opinions and helpful insight from other real people that aren’t being paid to provide the information. You can find reviews for businesses or services anywhere in the United States, but they focus on several “big” cities with more complete guides. Those “big” cities like Chicago or San Francisco can also be broken down by neighborhood. There are even results for the small town that I live in, so chances are, there are results for your city/town as well.
You can literally find hundreds of thousands of reviews, and a community where you’re welcome to talk, and ask questions. Just like other social networks, you fill out a profile, and add pictures. Registered users can even vote on reviews that are written as “Useful”, “funny”, or “Cool,” or message eachother. After you’ve filled in your profile, you’re ready to add friends and begin the process of reviewing all of your favorite places.
I decided to do a search, so I typed in to search for restaurants near Chicago, Illinois. When the results are displayed, they give you options for refining your search. My search was for restaurants, so I could refine it by the type of food that I wanted. I decided to refine my search, and so I clicked on Italian. From there, I was given a list of 196 different Italian restaurants within Chicago. To the right of the search box was a Google map which pinpointed each restaurant with the corresponding number. You’re able to click on each pinpoint and it will display all of the reviews, along with the street address, and a website if it’s available. Some of these restaurants had hundreds of reviews, while others only had a few. You can definitely tell which places are more popular than others.
With each review, they display how many reviews the reviewer has submitted. This helps to give you an idea of how accurate the review may be. Along with the reviews, they provide other helpful information . For example, you can view other points-of-interest in the area broken down into categories like nightlife, shopping, and businesses.
Remember, Yelp isn’t just for restaurants. They’ve got so many different categories with reviews for many different services. Their user interface is easy to navigate, and their 1-5 star rating system is simple to understand. You could always use a local service from Yahoo or Google, or even one that your community puts out, but Yelp is a more comprehensive, complete guide with more than just your typical restaurants.