Yelp Rolls Out New Features for Service SMBs

There’s a longstanding misperception that Yelp is all about bars and restaurants. It’s strong in several other verticals – everything from professional services (dentists, lawyers) to home services (roofers, plumbers). And it continues to optimize its position as a comprehensive local search and reviews source.

The latest mile of that road map became clear yesterday when Yelp announced new features for service businesses. These map to the home services noted above including movers, plumbers, HVAC, auto repair, roofing, real estate, home cleaners, painters, electricians, landscaping, and pest control.

The way it’s catering to these verticals involves user and business-facing tools. These include custom search filters that can be set by businesses and used by consumers. There’s also a new reviews flow, themed ads, and project cost guides. The latter utilizes local data to arm users with pricing intelligence.

“Our new [features] further demonstrate how we’re differentiating the experience for services businesses by helping consumers start their project, find the right pro for them, and make it easier to help the community by contributing a review,” Yelp VP of Product Akhil Ramesh told Localogy Insider.

Rank and Filter

Taking the new features one at a time, the new custom search filters let users quickly filter their searches by specific attributes. For example, they can rank and filter search results for service providers that are fast-responding; those that offer free consults; or those that specialize in a given subcategory.

Meanwhile, the new Themed Ads highlight differentiating factors for a given business. To do this, Yelp offers a templated set of attributes that advertisers can choose to include in their ads. These include some of the factors listed above including “fast-responding” and specific job or trade specialties.

Moving on to the new reviews flow, Yelp will now utilize the Request-a-Quote inputs from consumers to pre-populate reviews. This is meant to stimulate more reviews (fuel for Yelp) by reducing friction. The latter happens as reviews meta-data can be pre-filled, not to mention validated from real jobs.

Lastly, Project Cost Guides equip consumers with market intelligence as noted. This includes an aggregation engine from Yelp that ingests project details to then assemble quotes from service pros. The tool also offers an estimated cost that’s derived from Yelp data from millions of past job quotes.

Specialized Focus

These new features differentiate Yelp to both users and service providers. For users, it provides a reason to go directly to Yelp, rather than search on Google to see Yelp (and other) listings. This is an ongoing battleground and ax-grinding topic for Yelp, so attracting direct traffic (and legislation) are priorities.

And for service providers, the above updates offer more ways to capture high-intent local customers. For example, the ability to specify attributes that users may be filtering can boost their chances of getting found. Altogether, this offers more specialized focus than Google AdWords can offer.

“In the last few years, Yelp has doubled down on its focus within services categories,” Ramesh said, “connecting consumers with trusted pros to get things done, and matching service providers with relevant, high-intent leads, getting them the jobs they want.”

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