Talk to any small business owner about Yelp, and you can hear a pretty strong opinion. Sometimes it's a positive one, but overall you hear groaning and resentment. The online sentiment reflects that too. But why isn't anyone vocal about success stories with Yelp? I believe vilifying it presents an unfair and subjective picture. We've had a much different experience.
As a consumer, I have been using Yelp for many years. My family and I travel a lot and we rely on Yelp heavily to find great places to eat some authentic Japanese home food, to visit for learning about the local culture or art, to repair a shattered iPhone screen, etc. We've used Yelp overseas too, most recently in Copenhagen. I'm not big on writing reviews, unless our experience was truly stellar or entirely horrible, which is rare. But I sure do read them.
When we've opened our home cleaning company in Las Vegas a year ago, there were only 4 of us. We were thrilled to get our first client - a friend of a friend. By the end of the first month we've made a whopping $400 in profit. We created a Yelp account from the beginning and started advertising and after the first positive reviews, the orders started snowballing in a virtuous cycle: customers see our great reviews, book us, become happy with the service, and write their own positive reviews, leading to more customers.
House cleaning in Las Vegas is brutally competitive. There are hundreds of companies big and small, many of them are long-standing and with local connections to realtors, developers, and other professionals. We were the new kid on the block. Still are. But with 61 five-star reviews, thanks to Yelp we now have more than 30 employees and a thriving healthy business.
Aside from being this great source of business, Yelp provided good customer support for us. We were never pressured into advertising and when we had questions or problems, they were always supportive and responsive (except for maybe one occasion).