Word of Mouth: Urbanspoon, Yelp and Angie’s List

Jul 2011

Back in the way back day AM radio served the unique purpose of connecting people who needed things.  Maybe they had something for sale or needed a service done to their house.  Whatever, it was, they needed something and quite often a source from outside their immediate circle of influence could assist them.  That was the power of AM radio; they could connect people in the 30s and 40s in a way that people had never seen before.

But now everybody has seen social media and some have experienced the power of connection that it can yield.  Sure you can look up a restaurant; handyman or store in a search engine, but those results will be muddled with advertisements.  If you want to look up

Zagat is the old man in the restaurant review game.  Having been around for 30 years they started the review scene but got lost in the shuffle when the web and new cool kids came around.    The major benefit of Zagat is that if a restaurant has years of review traction then that can outweigh a negative review on social media platforms.  Zagat has gotten their website somewhat up to speed and has all of the major conveniences that Yelp or Urbanspoon have.

Urbanspoon is more similar to Yelp in that it is primarily generated user content on restaurants.  What separates Urbanspoon is that they also show review from trusted sources like newspaper reviews, Citysearch and others.

Yelp is the biggest fish in the social media sites that allow for user generated reviews.    Its traffic is four times as great as Urbanspoon, six times more than Angie’s List and 25 times greater than Zagat.  Yelp is a great resource but can also have lots of pithy, angry reviews that require the reader to ignore.  A review that is overly venomous or focusing on one aspect of the restaurant leads one to think that the reviewer had ulterior motives.

Anything and everything is reviewed on Yelp.  Apartments, handymen, plumbers, retail stores, animal shelters-you name it and it’s being reviewed on Yelp.  Beware the reviews that are too positive too.  It’s good to be happy, but reviews that are too positive (when there aren’t many reviews) are likely to be put there by staff or those associated with the entity.  Remember when you sold stuff on eBay and your friends would bid up your merchandise?  It’s kind of like that except it’s in review form.

Having said that, eliminate the overly positive and negative and Yelp is the place to get information on a business.  Once you start ‘Yelping’, you’ll realize that it’s fun to do.  The other bright spot about Yelp is that a lot of your friends are already there, so building a community is easy.

Angie’s List is the only paid service on the review generated platforms.    For an annual fee of around $60 you can search a variety of services with ‘unbiased’ reviews.  Angie’s List uses the term unbiased because only members can post reviews.  You have to use the service to post a review and some of the businesses listed do offer coupons.  If the business has a coupon it’s not for too much money, but some consumers like the idea that a membership fee supposedly helps keep the reviews ‘true’.

Bottom line:  It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish as to which one best suits you.

Did we miss a user generated review site that you like? If so please let us know.


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