Are review sites more beneficial than search?

We have recently encountered and read a potential eyebrow raising piece of information and research. This concerns search facilities (like Google) and review sites like Yelp.

What’s it all about?

Yelp commissioned a survey to see how important and how many conversions its platform was bringing in. If the results are fully accurate and approved then they make for some very interesting reading. The study found that review websites like Yelp bring in higher conversions overall than search or social media platforms.

Given how powerful we know both search and social media are as entities, this might seem like a bit of a shock initially. However thinking about it logically it does make sense. When people go on sites where they see reviews by others it is a big influence and encouragement for them to do the same if they have had some kind of endorsement before. You only have to look at the facts to know this is true. The study found that over 90% of people purchased after visiting Yelp at some point. More specifically, nearly 80% purchased within a week, and over 40% in the same day as visiting. From this it can be clearly seen that the traction and power is indeed high.

The study also cites the changing behaviour in conversions through review sites (i.e. the way people behave – buying after they have seen a review for example.) Following a previous study, this current one concluded that people engage far quicker rather than leaving time to pass which may have traditionally been the case.

What does it mean?

Above you may be able to pick out our disclaimer ‘[if] fully accurate & approved’. Yelp did commission this survey and obviously have a vested interest in it so that certainly needs consideration. However in Yelp’s defence, there have been other independent studies which have found similar conclusions although the engagement / conversion figures across all the different platforms mentioned here weren’t worlds apart, so the conclusiveness can be questioned.

The result? 

Mobile could be responsible for a big part of this. We all know that mobile interaction generally has been on the rise for some time. With apps being used by companies such as Yelp, this makes the process a whole lot easier to do on the go and so might have been advantageous to them. Others would argue that mobile search has been on the rise also so the previous point is cancelled out.

One thing it does indeed show is that user behaviour and interaction is changing yet again. Search engines do not need to be worried at this stage as the market share and demand for such ‘services’ is phenomenal. However, people are obviously experimenting and liking other forms of information gathering also, and the social media and search companies would be very wise to commission their own investigations into this to see where they may stand if things slant more in this direction in the future.

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