Yelp sticker

Yesterday, Yelp announced changes to the “Nearby” tab in its mobile app for customers on the roam looking for venues or businesses to pop into. While Yelp’s announcement was directed at customers and not businesses, there’s one big takeaway for you if you have a business listed on Yelp: Reviews will now impact would-be customers’ ability to discover you more than before.

The Nearby tab is intended to help customers locate businesses close to them using the GPS functionality in their mobile phones. With this update, it doesn’t just list locations based on their distance from the person using the app. It now shows places to visit based on how positive their reviews are, both from strangers and friends.

That means that if your restaurant or other venue is poorly reviewed, it won’t show up as prominently when Yelpers on the go use their apps to find stuff near them. On the flip side, positive reviews could raise you to the top of the list of recommendations.

There are other factors involved in the algorithm, including friend activity, time and date, weather, and previous check-ins at the business in question. Yelp hasn’t come forward with details about how this algorithm breaks down — and it’s not likely to do so — but it’s clear that you now have more incentive than ever to manage your business’ presence online, responding to reviews and using other social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to make sure your customers have the best possible experience when they walk in.

Yelp’s changes to the Nearby tab went into effect on iOS devices yesterday, and are coming soon to the Android version of Yelp’s app.

[Image credit: Robyn Lee]