- Yelp has enhanced its home feed on iOS to feature visual content from local restaurants, such as popular dishes, consumer photos and restaurant updates, according to a company blog post. The update is available in 150 metros in over 25 states.
- Content on the home feed is personalized based on a user's proximity, newness of the content and popularity of dishes.
- This year Yelp has added several features, such as Yelp Guest Manager, which combines its front-of-house products and off-premise business in one suite, and search functions to highlight LGBTQ-, Asian- and Black-owned businesses. It also expanded Yelp Waitlist to help manage takeout and curbside pickup orders.
Yelp's latest feature will improve convenience for its users and help restaurants connect with customers, especially through photos of popular dishes. Users who click on these menu items are redirected to see more photos and reviews of the dish from that restaurant.
Using machine learning, Yelp sorts through reviews and photos on the app to figure out which dishes are the most popular, Phillip Zukin, group product manager of consumer product at Yelp, said in an email.
Consumers will be able to see updates on the home feed from businesses that use Yelp Connect, a paid feature that launched in 2019 enabling businesses to share new information with consumers. Yelp Connect is available as part of Yelp's Upgrade Package, which offers logo, business highlights and other tools for $6 per day, Zukin said. Yelp Connect allows businesses to post regular updates to their pages, such as special deals, recent changes and new services, he said.
During its initial testing, Connect posts on the home feed increased consumer engagement by as much as 30%, according to the company blog post. When a user clicks on the Connect posts, they will have the option of viewing a business' Yelp page, sharing it or clicking a heart icon.
"With this new experience we're highlighting content from businesses right from a consumer's home feed and helping businesses gain greater visibility," Zukin said.
These enhancements are part of the company's strategy to boost its product offerings. During the first nine months of the year, it spent $206 million on product development compared to $174 million during the previous 2020 period, according to the company's latest Q3 earnings release.
Upgrading a paid feature like Yelp Connect could increase Yelp's revenue, which faltered during 2020 as many businesses temporarily or permanently closed. Its advertising revenue fell 14% in 2020 compared to 2019, triggered by a reduction in advertising spending from restaurants, retailers and other businesses following pandemic restrictions.
As the company has invested in product development this year, Yelp saw revenue increase about 19% to $758 million during the nine months ending Sept. 30. Revenue from restaurants, retail and other businesses showed signs of recovery during the third quarter and reached $100 million, nearing the $118 million in revenue the company reported during Q3 2019, according to the company's Q3 2021 shareholder letter. Advertising revenue for this class of business also increased 28% during the most recent quarter.