The vast, seemingly infinite abyss that is the Internet may have just gotten a little bit smaller. Like any avenue of commerce, online platforms are growing, surpassing competitors, and buying out the up-and-comers.

In a surprising twist, Yelp and Yahoo, two search engines who’ve made local search their bread and butter, have put down their weapons and joined forces. In a classic “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” move, Yahoo is now pulling content directly from Yelp in an attempt to improve its local search results.

The new partnership is amicable, as both companies gain users and multiply their exposure. As Yahoo said in their official statement, “we’re especially fired up to add trusted user content from Yelp.” In other words, Yahoo has decided (and Yelp would agree) that Yelp has a better review filtering algorithm that determines legitimate versus fake reviews.

The Bigger Picture

While delivering quality content to users may well be the outcome of this partnership, there is most certainly a larger goal that both Yelp and Yahoo share: to give Google a run for their money.

It’s no secret that Yahoo and Google are competitors in the search engine world, and it’s also no secret who’s winning. But you may not know that Yelp and Google don’t exactly play nice, either. In 2011 Yelp accused Google of engaging in “anticompetitive search practices,” by punishing companies not listed in Google Pages by threatening to pull them from overall searches. Google responded by removing Yelp links from portions of search results, and the two never really made up.

Then, in 2012 Yelp finalized a deal with Bing not unlike their new Yahoo partnership. This means that searchers on Bing and Yahoo are now exposed to Yelp reviews and content, but Google users are not. While this may not be a devastating blow to the world’s largest search engine, smaller players in the search world hope it’s a step in that direction.

For now, the real impact of this change is being felt by those searching for local businesses on Yahoo, and the businesses hoping to be found there. Needless to say, not all business owners are thrilled about the merge. Those who have spent time promoting and encouraging reviews on their Yahoo profiles now have to divert attention to their Yelp profile, which may not be as robust in comparison with their competitors’. Fortunately, Yelp is becoming a trusted resource for consumers searching for services in all industries, so there’s no time like the present to begin optimizing that profile and encouraging reviews.

I’m an avid Yahoo user- what do I need to know?

You can still search for products, services, local businesses and more in Yahoo, and if correctly set up, your business will still show up when consumers need you most. But soon, the information and reviews on the profile will be pulled from the company’s Yelp profile. To avoid inconsistencies, it is very important that you pay close attention to your Yelp profile. The business name and contact information on Yelp should directly match your Yahoo profile and of course, represent accurate hours of operation. Monitoring your Yelp reviews is also more important than ever. Responding publicly and cordially to reviews (good and bad) in a timely manner is a fantastic way to indicate that customer service is a top priority in your company and a clear indication that you can earn a searcher’s business and loyalty. If you are signed up for reputation management with OMNI, we have taken care of this on your behalf.

I’m an avid Yelp user- what do I need to know?

Start by verifying that all of the contact information on your Yelp profile matches your Yahoo profile. Since this merge will soon trickle down to every single listing, you should make the merge seamless in order to remain in control of both listings and current Yelp reviews. Continue sending customers to your Yelp page, but do keep in mind that Yelp will filter out reviews based upon an undisclosed formula. If your customer does not have an active Yelp profile, it may be wise to send them to your Google + profile to leave a review that is guaranteed to be visible.

The digital marketing frontier is ever-changing, but we love that about our industry! Check in periodically to keep up with important changes that affect your online brand.

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