Yelp! Most small businesses have a love/hate relationship with it. They love it because it's a great way to earn some added exposure online and through the Yelp! app, but they hate it because one bad experience can severely damage a businesses reputation. Love it or hate it, it's a great way to see what folks think about your business while also providing and additional means of being found in the community.

1. Whether You Like It Or Not, People Are Talking About You

At the end of Q3 2013 Yelp! reported it housed a whopping 47 million reviews since its inception and that number continues to rise. Whether you like it or not, Yelp! is a channel that should be monitored regularly to ensure your business is in good standing with it's customers. If you don't pay attention to it, chances are one of Yelp's reported 117 Million Monthly Visitors is.

2. The Review You Think Is A Fake Probably Is

If you've been watching a competitor on Yelp! and can't seem to figure out how they get so many raving revues, they're either doing a stellar job with their customers, or their reputation management company or similar provider is doing a bang up job of circumventing Yelp's filter.

In late September, a Harvard study found that roughly 20% of Yelp reviews are fake, compared to 5% in 2006. Yelp! responded to the study by admitting that nearly 25% of the reviews submitted to Yelp! get filtered by their system due to the suspicion of being fake. Bottom line, fake reviews happen and they're frustrating, but they're an unfortunate part of the Yelp! ecosystem.

3. Approximately 60% of All Searches on Yelp Come From Mobile

While it's not surprising, it's an important thing to consider, especially when you think of how Yelp! might refer traffic to your website. If your business relies heavily on Yelp! for traffic or discovery, you definitely want to make sure that the mobile user experience on your website is up to par. With so many searches coming from mobile, you want to ensure your business site accommodates searchers.

4. Next to Shopping and Restaurants, Home & Local Services Are the Most Reviewed

While shopping and restaurants make up nearly half of the total reviewed businesses on Yelp! Home & Local services bring in about 11% of the site's reviews. This means that if you're a plumber, locksmith, exterminator or other local service you should definitely be keeping an eye on your reviews.

yelp-reviewed-businesses

5. Most Yelp! Users Are Middle Aged, Educated, and Wealthy

If you cater to middle aged, educated, and wealthy customers, chances are you'll want to make sure to stay on top of your Yelp! listing. U.S. user demographic data from the end of Q3 2013 finds that the largest demographic groups are between the ages of 35 and 54, have graduated college, and make over 100k a year.

yelp-us-demographics

Bonus: Reviewers Can Now Post Reviews Straight From the Yelp App

I wrote about it a few months ago, but many small businesses still don't realize that Yelp! users can post reviews, unfiltered, directly from the Yelp! app. Previously users could write drafts from their mobile app, but could not publish a review until they revisited it via a desktop computer later. The change, which rolled out earlier this year, allows users to post their reviews in the heat of the moment, good or bad.

As you look ahead to 2014 and are deciding what channels to put your time and effort in, Yelp! may be one to consider, especially if you are a local business. While it's reviews system is far from perfect, Yelp! offers a lot of opportunities to local businesses both as a means of hearing customer needs as well as providing additional exposure online.