Ever wanted to go somewhere new for dinner? Or needed a new drycleaners since your old favorite moved to New Jersey?  Or was wondering what local store sells your favorite foreign candy bar?  Or out trying a new restaurant with a friend and don’t know what dish to order?

Try Yelp.com for help in these tough situations.  On Yelp.com you can search through any zip code, city, or region for whatever you would like; a new salon, Aero Bars (my favorite international candy bar), soup dumplings, even tourist destinations. There you can read reviews from other locals or people travelling through and see whether they recommend the joint, what stylist to ask for, what dish to eat.   There is also basic information about the businesses like website, address, hours, price range, whether they are good for kids, and other useful things to know.

One piece of advice my husband, Robert, always throws in when using Yelp or sharing our love of it with others is to watch out if every review is perfect and glowing!  We’d rather eat at a restaurant that sometimes gives some customers slow service than a restaurant where everything is perfect. If every review is heavenly, it usually makes you feel like the staff and managers are writing all their own reviews.  It’s okay if not everyone finds the book they wanted at a bookstore, that happens. Sometimes there is a spill on a grocery store floor that isn’t cleaned up before any customers notice it. A good business always feels a lot more comfortable to visit than a Stepford Wives sort of place.

BUSINESS OWNERS-

On another note, CeSI does not recommend paid advertising on Yelp.com because Yelp sells an advertising spot to a business in a specific geographic and industry niche and places the ad in rotation with other businesses in the same exact geographic and industry niche.  The end result our customers have seen on Yelp.com is that their business gets fewer web visits for a paid position than they do for a free listing.  Also, according to the Better Business Bureau Yelp has 500 complaints closed in the last 3 years.  315 of these closed in the last 12 months which is not considered a strong record.

This is not to say businesses should shy away from Yelp; instead, we recommend a free listing.  Claim your business for free at https://biz.yelp.com/claiming. This way you can help customers to find your business when searching by keywords in your area. You can also interact with customers and deal directly with happy reviews or those that aren’t quite perfect. We love to see business owners who address issues and even positivity online on Yelp.

Have you found a favorite new business on Yelp? Is your business listed for free on Yelp already?