Does Yelp Dominate Google's Local Web Results?

Oct 18, 2013 • 8:53 am | comments (28) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Yelp GoogleA common issue I see with the Google results are the number of Yelp results a Google search can return for a local type of keyword phrase.

It has been going on for well over a year. I even wrote about it when discussing Google's domain diversity.

One webmaster shared an example of a horrible Yelp listing in Google, in the Black Hat Forums.

He said, you should take a look at the search results for [haircut santa monica] and 10 ten results on the web site were from Yelp. Pretty amazing.

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Why does Yelp dominate so much of Google's search results? Is Yelp the Wikipedia of local search?

Forum discussion at Black Hat Forums.

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10/18/2013 01:34 pm

Looking at the URLs from those listings it seems to show search queries vs actual listings which would lead me to believe that volume for that keyword phrase is extremely low. Also, there isn't a Google Pack so I'm wondering if Google is not considering that query "local intent".


10/18/2013 01:38 pm

This happens with every UK query you type in for a local service, you can be sure YELL is the first position and in some cases 5-6 positions. vzPRO, example above places here Thank you for bringing more attention to the issue Barry! Have a good weekend!


10/18/2013 01:41 pm



10/18/2013 03:42 pm

Host crowding is nothing new and has been a problem for a long time now. Hopefully Google will figure out a way to give users more choices instead of brand repeats.

Conor Mulcahy

10/18/2013 04:25 pm

The locations served in the Google SERP's reflect those that Yell have architected on each internal search results listing. Yet they have NO Followed these internal links, I'm unsure why, thought I have seen this happening on other sites which dominate their vertical. No doubt they have strong sitemaps, and I can see schema mark-up denoting these locations and companies. The fact that they have map views, then these locations are probably further supported by bounding boxes. Each page has approx 15 "window cleaners" links, self linking (via canonical) and creating a sort of internal link sculpting around each key term. There are a lot of signals to reinforce these local listings, including address, phone & the aforementioned schema & bounding boxes. They also have a powerful domain with over 70k referring domains & 3 Million back links within the past 5 years. Complemented by relatively strong and correlating trust and citation flow.


10/18/2013 04:37 pm

How many of those 3M links are sh*t links though? Why they are not penalized?

Ashley Stanf

10/18/2013 04:38 pm

How many of those 3M links are sh*t links though, yet no penalty for them.


10/18/2013 04:58 pm

Will google buy Yelp??

Daniel A Bernath

10/18/2013 05:52 pm

Judges in California and Oregon have stated that Yelp is like the "Mafia" and "Organized Crime". Judge Henry Kantor in Oregon said that Yelp's business model is "offensive". The judge believes that the Oregon Attorney General has an investigation pending regarding Yelp's treatment of businesses and that Yelp's business model is "problematic." FOOTNOTE: Judge Henry Kanton, Oregon Circuit Court, Portland October, 7, 2013 at 10:56 “ I’ve been watching and paying attention to what both Mr. Bernath said and actually other things out that I’ve read out what’s going on with Yelp and the way its handing businesses it has business with. I find it offensive, I know there are class actions pending…it would not shock me at all if actually Mr. Bernath gets some relief for the way yelp is conducting its business model. I think (Yelp’s ethics are) its highly problematic If Oregon attorney general office has not initiated something I suspect they will. I don’t thinks this is any shock. Yelp knows this in a more sophisticated way then I do. In fact I believe there may be something pending. And I think down the line Yelp has to change or its going to look like what Mr. Bernath describes it; organized crime.” Oct 7 2013 FOOTNOTE: I’ve been watching and paying attention to what both Mr Bernath said and other things out that I’ve read out whats going on with yelp and the way its handing businesses it has business with. I find it offensive, other class actions pending it would not shock me at all if Mr. Bernath gets some relief for the way yelp is conducting its business model its highly problematic If Oregon attorney general has not initiated I suspect they will. I don’t thinks this is any shock. Yelp knows this in a more sophisticated way then I do. And Yelp may know I’m sure they will be something pending Down the line, Yelp has to change or its going to be what mr Bernath describes it, organized crime

marc z

10/18/2013 10:29 pm

If you look at the auto search as you are typing that keyword, the second keyword (LSI) that according to Google, is heavily searched, would be "haircut santa monica yelp". They are providing results off what is commonly searched when users search for "haircut santa monica". I do agree that too many local directories are showing up in search results and that this individual search is odd. But obviously someone has been searching "haircut santa monica yelp" many many many times.

David Freid

10/19/2013 03:34 am

Until there is verifiable proof that a review is made by an actual customer (i.e. receipt) I will always question validity. Yelp is an extortionist. I have seen way to many situations where a hundred great reviews are filterd and a single bad review is showing without filter. Most of us will not even know how to set a filter or even know what is being done in order to see all of the reviews. My advice is to stop relying on reviews and check the BBB for complaints.

Justin Douglas

10/19/2013 07:56 am

G results have been garbage for awhile, it's mostly the big boys, Amazon, Yelp etc. The shares hit a new high so don't expect much to change anytime soon, unless people get it and start jumping ship.


10/19/2013 11:28 am

There is simply no other corporate site that targets local keywords and small businesses are filtered anyways. Just did a test for "haircut manhattan". First 5 results is Yelp, then major news sites and on place 18 the first hair studio. Good job Google!

Conor Mulcahy

10/19/2013 04:12 pm

I had no time to analyse their backlinks. Are they dominating less competitive search results in this manner or the majority?


10/19/2013 05:05 pm

just common high authority spam. google become high authority spam and faked brands search engine. google, -100500!


10/19/2013 05:08 pm

they working very hard destroying their own serp. Only high authority spam is allowed here now.


10/19/2013 05:10 pm

googlebot do it, or matt cutts personally spamming this query


10/19/2013 05:12 pm

google not care about users. google cares only about more revenue (green greedy lepricon), more insane serp and only in high brands competition in their serp


10/19/2013 05:14 pm

high authority spam not getting penalized. because if it will penalized as small/medium sites, - google serp will be empty. Nice to see how google lost to spammers.


10/19/2013 06:32 pm

"Authority Spam" lol, love that word.

Gracious Store

10/20/2013 03:42 am

Has Yelp cleared up the accusation against it that most of the reviews on its sites are fake?

osman musa

10/20/2013 04:26 am

What they do, is allow regular average people to write stuff about places which in turn equals more traffic from Google so it is in a way a chain reaction. It's not just Yelp staff that write stuff, it's all people from every city imaginable that get Yelp it's dominance.

osman musa

10/20/2013 04:28 am

Barry from that Photo above it appears that they save all searches people do so when Google crawls, it also indexes the search parameters itself. That is another way they pull in more people, by getting previously saved searches indexed. So all possible searches from everyone who has ever searched Yelp is saved for Google to Index.

osman musa

10/20/2013 04:36 am

Oh yeah, another problem is the autocomplete. It starts finishing things for people and it will add yelp at end due to many people previously searching yelp related stuff. Autocomplete can be a good thing and a bad thing. In this case Autocomplete is to Yelps advantage.

Salvador Veta Frutos

10/20/2013 08:44 pm

I couldn't agree more. I local hair-cut saloon client wanted to know why all of the sudden their yelp reviews disappeared after a 10 month period. It turns out that after the client declined to purchase one of yelp's advertising plans, the reviews got filtered. Yelp believes that all "bad" reviews are legitimate while positive ones MUST be questioned - never mind that, they must get filtered.


10/21/2013 07:04 am

Local searches are all filled with "Authority Spam". You will find results from Gumtree, Yell, Yelp, Meetup, Yellowpages, Truelocal, Indeed for Jobs, OLX, LinkedIn etc. covering 5-6 (sometimes all top 10) ranking slot of the top 10. This is Google's Algorithm giving value to "Authority Spam" and I think they spent too much on Google Adwords and also are using Google Adsense. This in return gives Google Lot of Money.


01/18/2014 06:11 am

BBB is a joke.

Chuck Jones

03/11/2014 06:33 pm

I would say the main reason why Yelp's URL is showing on the top of the organic directories for many business's is because that specific industry "in that area" has no real SEO marketing company working for them. One MUST employ all SEO (Yoast) tactics and comply with Google's Hummingbird algorithms guidelines in order to show on top of organic directory. Not to mention Google Map Google+ Webmaster tools I could go on. My business beats out Yelp all over San Diego County "in all the different cities" because I use SEO tools on my blogs.

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