We’re starting to see what Apple Maps will look like as well as the features it will contain, among them check-ins on Yelp. At the same time it’s becoming clear how important Yelp now is in the world of local and Local SEO through its Apple relationship. Yelp has always been important. However the site is now second only to Google in terms of its importance — if not its equal.
Yelp’s Huge New Visibility
On the iPhone 4S Yelp provided reviews for nearby local businesses found by Siri, in a generally mediocre local search experience. Though Yelp was the source of the content (or some of the content), its brand presence was limited. However in the new iOS 6 regime Yelp gets marquee placement and promotion. No one will now mistake where the local reviews and other content are coming from.
In addition the recent local content deal with Bing, although lower profile than the Apple relationship, also gives Yelp a significant boost.
Apparently in Australia, where Yelp is also providing data to Apple for iOS 6, the company is telling local businesses that they need to claim their pages as a way into Apple Maps and local search results. Indeed, claiming one’s Yelp listing now becomes a “must-do” for local businesses — if it wasn’t already before. And Yelp reviews gain further importance through Apple and Bing.
Google, Yelp and Local SEO
Google and Yelp are now the “twin poles” of local and local SEO. While it remains to be seen how successful Apple Maps will be, they will likely see significant local search volume simply by default — because of the huge installed base of iPhone users. And if Apple hits a home run, the local query volumes could be absolutely huge.
Other local apps, with some exceptions including Foursquare and specific verticals, are going to feel enormous pressure from Google on the one hand and Apple-Yelp on the other. The impact metaphorically is not unlike Spain and Portugal carving up the “non-Christian world” in 1494 through the Treaty of Tordesillas.
Yelp No Longer David to Google’s Goliath
Not long ago Yelp was claiming that it was feeling intensifying pressure from Google and Google Places. It cast itself as something of a victim of Google’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. During last September’s US Congressional hearings on Google, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman testified that he might not have started Yelp if he were considering launching the site today.
Things have certainly changed.
Yelp can no longer claim that it is David to Google’s Goliath. Yelp has secured a coveted position beside Google in the local ecosystem, arguably as one of the top two branded destinations. And in many ways Yelp’s brand association with local is stronger than Google.