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On Our Radar: Yelp Cracks Down, Restaurants Rejoice! And More Maps

Ghost RadarThis time it isn’t about Google Maps or Apple Maps, we promise. There is a lot going on and this week will be the last On Our Radar before Halloween so we figured we’d lead in with something scary.

Yelp Flags Grifters

You really shouldn’t be soliciting reviews on your local listing via incentives. It’s bad practice. What’s worse is when you try to pay off people to write fake reviews. This is dishonest and tarnishes the business, the reviewer (especially in this case), and the site that’s kind enough to list your business.

Well Yelp’s having no more of that. They have flagged eight businesses that have been caught trying to manipulate their customer reviews in this way. For three months, after clicking on their Yelp listing, users will see this:

Yelp Consumer Alert

The worst of it was a jewelry store in San Diego that offered $200 to an elite Yelp reviewer to review their website. Now they have a red flag on their Yelp listing for the next 3 months. When even little changes on public listings can affect consumer behavior, one can only assume what detriment the notice will cause for business. Our assumptions aren’t good.

Restaurants – 3 Months to Mobile

Restaurant owners have three months to capitalize on OpenTable’s attempt to bring restaurants to the mobile fold. There are a lot of restaurants that aren’t capitalizing on mobile and yet the very nature of booking and cancelling reservations often becomes a last minute affair. It only makes sense to make it as convenient as possible for restaurant-goers to have this access at the touch of a button.

A once $100 price tag of mobile transition for restaurants is now free until January 31. This isn’t a promotion for OpenTable, this is simple a reach out to bring restaurants up to par with current standards of consumer behavior. Restaurants are a haven for location based marketing, a field which in its own right has very strong roots in mobile. It’s time to take advantage of this trend and welcome the resulting business it will generate.

Foursquare Fix-up

It was only recently that Foursquare saw the coolest check-in ever (from another planet!). Now, they’ve revised their set up for users. What’s different?

  • The homepage features a search box to find local destinations
  • You no longer have to log-in to use it
  • Numerical scores based on behavior (check-ins, loyalty, etc.) rather than reviews

This puts Foursquare directly in line with competitors like Yelp as a location based search engine for local business. Not having to log in to operate Foursquare’s features is a nice touch, although logging in still provides extra benefits.

These new developments are currently only available via PC. With trends the way they are, it’s safe to assume it will be appearing on mobile in the near future.

Map Behavior – Of Desktops and Smartphones

We’ve spoke to the trend of mobile at length (perhaps ad nauseum), but this week ties in nicely with our recent discussion of maps. It seems that, according to comScore data, the use of maps via computer has peaked.

In the wake of PC map searches, mobile has taken the torch and is booming. Within the past six months, a 24% increase to 92million unique visitors to mapping sites and apps has occurred via smartphones. Meanwhile, over the past 15 months there has been a 34% drop in PC searches on the Big 5 Engines via Maps and Navigation services.

 

Some things just make sense to have mobile. This week, we’ve seen it in both restaurants and navigation oriented services. But what does this mean for PC map services and how should the providers respond? One thing’s for certain – business owners should be jumping on the emerging trends.

Meanwhile, we anxiously await developments regarding Foursquare’s updates.

And of course, please remember to keep your listings fraud-free. Cultivating sincere reviews from satisfied customers is the best way to increase your local presence. For more information, you can visit our new Best Practices section here.

Happy Halloween!

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