Study Reports 90% of Business Owners Trust Yelp Reviews to Make Purchasing Decisions

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Study Reports 90% of Business Owners Trust Yelp Reviews to Make Purchasing Decisions

A recent study from Merchant Warehouse reports that business owners (and consumers in general) are putting more of their trust into online reviews sites, specifically Yelp. As mentioned on WebProNews, the statistics from the study, which asked over 800 business owners their feelings on social media, online commerce and more, show that 90% of respondents are influenced by positive Yelp reviews. This means that a user is more likely to purchase from a business that has positive reviews on the site.

In addition, the survey reports that 72% were just as likely to trust a review they found on Yelp as they would a review from someone they know personally. Consumers’ trust in online reviews is heavily influencing businesses.

Effect on the Bottom Line

This isn’t the only time a study has shown how big of an impact Yelp reviews have on a business’ revenue and consumer trust. Another study by Boston Consulting Group published on Yelp’s official blog in March 2013 shows just how much revenue having an active Yelp profile can bring in. The study reports that business owners who simply claimed their Yelp profile saw an average increase in net profits annually of $8,000.

For those advertising on Yelp, the returns are much higher. Businesses spend an average of $350 per month, or $4,200 per year, on Yelp advertising (featured listings, banner ads, etc). In return, Boston Consulting Group’s study shows that the average increase in revenue for Yelp advertisers is over $23,000.

Online Reviews Are Important

Online reviews are crucial toward an online search becoming a sale or conversion through your business. More than 70% of consumers now trust online reviews over traditional print and television ads, according to a Nielsen study. To claim your online profiles, including Yelp, use a service like Locu or

Kelsey Jones
When she's not editing and scheduling posts, Kelsey Jones manages the Marketing Nerds podcast and moderates SEJ Summit conferences and Marketing ThinkTank webinars. She has... Read Full Bio
Kelsey Jones
Kelsey Jones
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  • Jimmy

    I find this hard to believe! It is so easy to write fake online reviews! Yelp has a flawed business model as evidence by their recent bad PR regarding their town hall meetings in LA. Until Yelp and prove that the online reviews are real and legit.. I won’t trust them! I have several business owner clients that are convinced that Yelp filtered their positive reviews the second they declined to advertise on Yelp! Who is holding Yelp accountable?

    • I agree, but the majority of users don’t know you can buy reviews, so the trust factor is still there. Since I’m in the marketing industry, I still trust Yelp but I am just vigilant about the reviews I read. I tend to put more faith in well-written reviews that have a unique comment (aka something like “their house BBQ sauce is divine, but hot”) instead of reviews that are too broad (aka “This place is awesome! Go here!”).

  • Daniel Johnson

    Have to agree with Jimmy here. You can buy Yelp reviews for goodness sakes, just do a google search for it.

    Then again that’s not what the article is saying, people do believe them – it’s another trust factor like having +1’s and likes etc. What the industry needs is a more competitive and transparent review service.


    • I agree DJ. I have heard the complaints as well. While I still count on Yelp to find businesses, I just try to be smart about it and remain aware that they could be purchased.

  • I trust Yelp reviews about as much as I trust Yelp, which is not at all.

  • james

    I’m a business who had ALL 11 positive reviews filtered when I ignored the advertising calls. This is happening to thousands of businesses and it hurts them greatly. Most people are not that savy to read between the lines. Yelp acknowledges that legit reviews are filtered, and that should be the exception not the norm when it can damage someone’s lively hood. Additionally, the “Elite” program equates to paid reviews as well as these Elites have to write so many reviews to maintain their special status, getting them lots of freebies, giveaways and other perks from businesses groveling for their attention. That is no more authentic or representative of the average user than someone who doesn’t make Yelping a lifestyle but goes on to compliment a business only to have their review filter because they might be fake. Yelp suppresses the positive reviews of those who does not advertise and highlights the ones that does. This whole business model is flawed and will have to change to one where users are verified as real people so the content cannot be manipulated in these mafia like tactics.

    • Hi James, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I’m actually a Yelp Elite and have been for 4 years. We aren’t required to write a certain number of reviews, just to keep our account active, meaning occasional reviews (which can be negative or positive) throughout the year. In addition, the yelp events I’ve attended, I wasn’t persuaded in any way to write a positive review about the business where the event was held. The Yelp Elite community here in Kansas City is really positive and fun. I have always shared my honest opinion on Yelp and have never had my reviews filtered nor has the Yelp team ever persuaded me to write reviews a certain way.

      If anything, I have had business owners try to persuade me to write reviews for them because I’m a Yelp Elite.

      I’m not saying Yelp is completely innocent; I have heard several stories about “blackmailing” in order for businesses to advertise. However, from a business owner and Yelp Elite/Member perspective, the company has never done anything to me personally to make me see them in a bad light.

  • Richard

    I have grown so tired of these statistics released by the Yelp machinery. Restaurants with high ratings make more money? Really? Do you think? And Yelp is the cause of that effect? I suppose people who believe this kind of junk science are the same ones who believe Yelp reviews. As Ruth Reichl says…