Yelp, the handy platform which provides crowd-sourced info on local businesses, has been around for over twelve years. The app was once available internationally but the company decided to scale back to save on some necessary capital last year. It currently operates only in North America and has been witnessing little to no growth in its business. But, who is to blame for its current condition?
Well, if you ask Yelp itself, technical and other such problems negatively affect their brand image in the market. And one of the major technical issues faced by the company, as it mentions in the annual report, is changes in Search engine’s ranking algorithms, or design layout. These reduce the prominence of their links, thus, preventing enough traffic from reaching its platform, says the report.
It further also says that they aren’t in a position to influence the said results, which continues to further hurt their platform. And this is being cited as one of the reasons for their failure in the international markets. Thus, Yelp believes that a major contributor to their loss is Google and its search algorithms which change constantly. It has been described in the document as under:
Google has previously made changes to its algorithms and methodologies that may be contributing to the slowing of our traffic growth rate, particularly in our international markets where we have less content and more competitors. We believe this headwind on our ability to achieve prominent display of our content in international unpaid search results disrupted the network effect we expected in our international markets based on what we experienced domestically, whereby increases in content led to increases in traffic. This was a contributing factor to our decision to reallocate our international sales and marketing resources.
But, this isn’t the first time Yelp has called out Google for disrupting their business opportunities and caused a slowdown in its growth. Earlier in 2015, the company ignited the match by publishing a report saying Google altered search results to favor its own services as compared to others. This, it alleged, was leading the traffic away from its own review website to its won service ‘Google Places,’ which was surfacing content from its website without authorization.
This led to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) being involved in the matter to investigate Yelp’s anti-trust allegations. But, Google was not booked for the said charges but was asked to provide services like Yelp to opt-out from having their website data being scraped by the search engine. Yelp has also been one of the main proponents of complaints against Google to the European Commission. Over the last few years, the said feud has led EU to investigate the search giant for manipulating results to hinder the growth of competitive businesses.
There has, however, been not much change in Yelp’s performance over the said period of time. Available both on mobile and the web, the company currently boasts of 135 million monthly visitors and 95 million reviews. It was founded by two former PayPal employees Russel Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman in 2004 and made its public debut in 2010. This helped their business turn profitable in the next two years.
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