- Yelp is introducing a feature that allows businesses to self-identify as LGBTQ-owned to kick off Pride Month in June, according to a company blog post. The platform has also deployed rainbow-colored map pins that will highlight such businesses and the more than 581,000 businesses that describe themselves as "Open to All" on the app throughout the month.
- The LGBTQ-owned filter is free and opt-in only. Consumers will be able to see the feature in Yelp's mobile app by going to the business page under the "more info" section, and on Yelp's website in the "amenities and more" section. Yelp said it will proactively monitor pages for hate speech against the LGBTQ community and will remove any such rhetoric.
- This isn't the first time Yelp has added a filter identifying business ownership. In June 2020, Yelp allowed Black-owned businesses to label themselves as such on its platform, and added "Black-owned" as a search attribute. And, just last month, Yelp added search filters for Asian-owned businesses.
Yelp's efforts to help businesses amplify their demographic details are designed to support consumer search trends. For example, the rate of searches on Yelp for LGBTQ-owned businesses in the U.S. jumped by more than 150% in April versus a year ago, according to the blog post.
Between May 25 and July 10, 2020, there were more than 2.5 million searches for Black-owned businesses on Yelp, representing a 7,043% increase year-over-year. Yelp also reported that in February, searches for Asian-owned businesses increased 130% compared to the year-ago period.
Yelp isn't the only site that has experienced an uptick in specific business-owned searches. EatOkra, an app that connects users with local Black-owned restaurants, experienced a 4,000% increase in downloads from May 2020 to April 2021. Groupon's searches for "Black-owned" increased nearly 400% last year versus 2019.
These material increases in searches should translate to sales and traffic lifts. Thirty-five percent of Yelp users visit a business's website within 24 hours of searching, for example. The company stated in its release that it hopes its new LGTBTQ new attribute "empowers millions of LGBTQ-owned businesses across the country and encourages consumers to drive more dollars directly to the bottom line of these businesses."
Yelp is also hoping to increase the availability of spaces where people feel comfortable. In a statement, Open to All Director Calla Rongerude said, "it's more important than ever for people to be able to find safe and welcoming spaces to celebrate LGBTQ equality," as hate violence reaches an all-time high.
Hate-motivated murders in the U.S. rose to the country's highest level in more than a decade in 2019, according to the FBI, while hate crimes have been increasing almost every year since 2014. Hate crimes against LGTBQpeople represent 16.7% of all hate crimes. It is the third largest category after race and religion. To combat this, Yelp added alerts for business accused of racism to its platform in October.
Yelp plans to further celebrate Pride Month by sharing stories of LGBTQ business owners on its social media channels, hosting virtual events and launching an LGBTQ resources hub for business owners.