So, you are probably aware that we don’t have much love for Yelp here at opClarity but that certainly doesn’t mean we are haters. In fact, we will admit that hands down Yelp is good for reviews in very specific categories. For instance, you are looking for a good dry cleaners, bam! Yelp, is going to have reviews. Oh, you need to find a good frame shop for a really special piece of artwork or photograph, Yelp is gonna absolutely steer you in the right direction. Basically, for specialized services Yelp has got it down. But, this isn’t what we are talking about today.
We are discussing what they are known for. Restaurant reviews. If you are familiar with these reviews you are aware that oftentimes it is impossible to navigate through them. To understand a review you have to understand the part and parcel of the person who is writing it. So, one of the reasons this site exists is to discuss the anatomy of reviews in order for the reader to come away with a greater understanding for themselves. Today we discuss location and how it impacts Yelp reviews and specifically restaurant reviews.
Location dictates the depth and thorough nature of Yelp reviews. The reason is simple, Yelp is a technology platform that a user signs up for specifically to review businesses. So, it isn’t Facebook where you are already there and provided direct to you an easy mechanism for reviews. No, the Yelp user is someone who has chosen to use this technology to review. So, the barrier to entry is much greater than another platform. Which means, if it isn’t obvious, the average Yelp user will be college age and educated. This face introduces a million issues that could be dissected but let’s just look at the two main ways this impacts location.
First, the “Yelp cities” provide the most obvious indicator. Go to San Francisco and you will see hundreds, potentially thousands of Yelp reviews for innocuous companies, services and restaurants. You can guess the other cities where there is a deluge of Yelp reviews for the most mundane businesses. If you are searching for a review and it seems as though everywhere you look is 5 stars 400 reviews you know you are in a Yelp city and you will, have to take that into account. In these circumstances we would suggest only reading reviews from the past 3 months. Now, of course there’s a hundred other problems with Yelp reviews but for this problem specifically go with only recent.
Second and a much greater problem that the Yelp cities is college proximity. New York City couldn’t be a greater example than this. So, let’s break it down. You live in a city where there’s a large college. It might be a large city, the kids who go to the college do not venture out more than 5 blocks in either direction. So…..what happens? The most reviewed restaurants are in the proximity of the college. In this case NYU, we will let you ponder the food knowledge of the typical NYU freshmen. So, you see this very bizarre dichotomy, the typical New Yorker, even educated New Yorker isn’t really the Yelp type, I mean don’t get us wrong, there are lots of them in NYC. But it’s not like San Francisco.
So, the results of this couldn’t be more in your face. Some seriously bad restaurants have more reviews and better ratings than some of the best places in the entire city. You have certain Brooklyn spots that have some of the best fish at phenomenal prices with only iffy reviews because they aren’t deluged with positive reviews, only the complainers show up. We will talk about the complainers at another point. There are eateries within a ½ mile from NYU that are some of the most discussed and loved spots with less reviews than an OK burger joint. So, how to mitigate this? We say stay away from college areas in big cities completely unless you have been recommended a specific place. For college areas in small cities it’s a bit different. The main reason is that the best restaurants will more than likely cluster around the college. And the good ones outside the immediate area will in fact, have reviews.