- We analyzed 100 business profiles on all four channels for views and actions over six months and then compared the results.
- Yelp generated 2-5% of views and actions compared to Google, making them the #3 largest local search engine behind Apple Maps (#2) and Google (#1) but came out on top of Bing (#4).
- Try comparing your own data to see if you find the same results!
In Part 3 of this series, we take a closer look at how Yelp stacks up to Google Business Profile, Apple Business Connect, and Bing Places. You can find it here if you missed Part 1, where we take a deep dive into Google Business Profile vs. Bing Places. In Part 2, we covered Google Business Profile vs. Apple Maps Connect.
As a reminder, we collected this data over the course of six months (October 2022 – March 2023) and compared the same metrics across Google Business Profile, Bing Places, Apple Business Connect, and Yelp.
The businesses we compared are ALL in the restaurant and hospitality industry. These portfolios have a mix of quick-service restaurants, casual dining, and fine dining.
Look for subsequent future research for businesses in other industries and updated research periodically throughout the coming years. For now, we picked restaurants because they are one of the highest volume businesses on search, and typically, sites like Yelp claim that they are the leaders in this industry, making some seriously bold claims in their marketing and sales about being bigger and reaching more people than Google (not true, as we shall see below).
In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the overall data across all four platforms. For those of you who might not be statisticians (like me), for every 100% difference, that equates to 1x.
Google vs. Yelp
When comparing Google Business Profile to Yelp, Google generated:
In 2009, Google attempted to buy Yelp for $550M to accelerate its entry into the world of Local Search. It seemed like the deal was going to go through until, at the last minute, Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman walked away from the negotiating table. Since then, Google and Yelp have engaged in a fierce rivalry for dominance in local search.
Yelp has long claimed to be the leader in local search, but our research reveals that might not be the case. Frankly, Yelp hasn’t been bigger than Google in local search for nearly a decade.
In fact, searches for “Yelp” have been declining every year since their peak in 2015, coinciding with the release of Google My Business (now known as Google Business Profile).
Source: Google Trends
I think it’s safe to say that Google has officially won the battle against Yelp for dominance in local search. Google has more users (1B+ downloads of Google Maps vs. 50M for Yelp) and a significantly superior business model.
As mentioned above, we blended the results across three different business organizations. Surprisingly, looking at Yelp in isolation, one of the three organizations was an advertiser on Yelp with Enhanced Profiles and CPC ads for a portion of the timeframe that we compared these platforms.
Google has more users (1B+ downloads of Google Maps vs. 50M for Yelp) and a significantly superior business model.
When we extract that group’s data from the rest, the results are quite different when looking at the volume of actions in particular. Google still comes out well ahead, but as you can see below, businesses who pay for advertising with Yelp might expect to receive more views, direction requests, phone calls, and website visits.
Here’s how the three organizations netted out with Yelp compared to Google:
Does NOT advertise on Yelp
48x more views
31x more direction requests
36x more phone calls
17x more website visits
Does NOT advertise on Yelp
40x more views
53x more direction requests
56x more phone calls
31x more website visits
Advertises on Yelp
56x more views
18x more direction requests
20x more phone calls
13x more website visits
The results in terms of actions for the business that did advertise on Yelp are approximately 1.5-2x better across these KPIs than the organizations that did not advertise on Yelp. It has long been speculated that Yelp is mostly pay-to-play and Yelp’s search results are biased towards businesses who have enhanced profiles and or use their CPC products.
Here is a look at the results in terms of page visits and actions as reported natively by Yelp when Enhanced Profiles and Ads are active vs. when they are disabled. Keep in mind this is only for one location out of 20 for this group.
Obviously, being an advertiser on Yelp comes with some advantages when it comes to customer actions, likely due to the higher placement in search results and potentially preferential treatment in the organic results.
I think it’s fair to say that if you really want to maximize your Yelp presence, you’re going to have to spend some money to achieve that. Personally, I am not a fan of this business model. As a consumer, I stay clear of sites like Yelp that artificially promote one business over another simply because they are getting paid by one and not the other.
Of course, you can buy ads on Google and push your business to the top of search results, but those results are clearly labelled as “sponsored” or “Ads.” And on Google, there are (at most) two ads before the organic results. On Yelp, there are at least five.
Although Yelp does show the “sponsored” label on some of the search results, what consumers don’t know is that “enhanced profiles” may also receive preferential treatment in the organic results on Yelp, and those results are not being disclosed to consumers as being “sponsored.”
It’s also worth noting that you might see dramatically different results if you’re not in the hospitality industry. I did a smaller sample with an automotive chain and found that they were getting over 100x more actions on Google Business Profile vs. Yelp.
As always, check your own data and see what you find out!
Yelp vs. Apple
When comparing Yelp to Apple Business Connect, Yelp generated:
As mentioned throughout this series, Apple Business Connect can now claim its position as the #2 local search engine. Before this year, it wasn’t possible to make this comparison as Apple Business Connect had no analytics available. Before being able to make this comparison, I always considered Yelp as the default #2 behind Google Business Profile, but Apple has clearly leapfrogged ahead of them.
Despite my default thinking, I’ve always had a hunch that this would check out, given that Apple has nearly 1.5B active iPhone users. With that said, Apple does have a significantly larger market share in North America than globally, so if your business is located internationally, these results may vary based on your region’s smartphone market share.
Yelp was the default #2 behind Google Business Profile, but Apple has clearly leapfrogged ahead of them.
Credit should be given to Yelp though. They put up pretty good numbers considering how many fewer users they have access to. Regardless, Yelp is falling behind in Local Search, which isn’t a surprise given that they have no access to users by default, like Google with Chrome/Android and Apple with their Maps being the default on iOS.
It’s hard to compete against platforms with billions of users, so this was a pretty good result for a company like Yelp.
Again, keep in mind that you might see dramatically different results if you’re not in the hospitality industry. My expectation would be that in other industries, the gap would be even wider, in favor of Apple due to it’s reach.
Yelp vs. Bing
Last but not least, when comparing Yelp to Bing Places, Yelp generated:
This puts Yelp safely in position #3 in terms of the potential impact on local search. Bing is virtually irrelevant even when compared to Yelp, which is quite surprising given Bing’s resources and market share. However, this is likely due to Bing’s lack of mobile market share, which is severely lagging behind competitors.
Since this research was primarily based in the hospitality industry, your business results may vary slightly if your users on GBP are coming from desktop devices.
If you’re a local business, here’s where you should focus your energy and efforts in order of priority:
- Google Business Profile
- Apple Business Connect
- Bing Places
I hope this was helpful and that you’ll apply these ideas and learnings to your business.
Reach out if you have any questions. I love a good conversation and am eager to see if more businesses are experiencing the same results as our clients.