The New Importance of Yelp

In the world of business promotions and search engine optimization, every credible business listing with a link back has always mattered regardless of the directory traffic. Over the years, Yelp has been trying to position itself as the leading user-driven local online business directory with business listing, business reviews, and customer and user profiles--basically a complete place for shoppers to come for all their "local" information.

Unlike the more popular directory aggregates and/or search engines such as Google or Bing, historically Yelp didn't hold all that much leverage in the search engine world, and couldn't force users to use their website. But with the newly released iPhone 5 (or, rather, the iOS6 software update), things changed a bit. Gone is the comfortable world of Google maps as the mapping application for iPhones. Gone is the integration with Google Places, or what is now called Google + Local. Now, iOS6 uses Apple's new mapping partner TomTom with Yelp providing the business directory tie-in.

The new switch by Apple now places Yelp in a better leveraged position to gain new users. Regardless of their love or hate for the new maps and directory, users who have not previously used or had any preferences for Yelp are now more likely to become users of the directory (even if only by force).

What does this change mean for the business owners who are interested in capturing as many online shoppers and browsers as possible?

Being on Yelp has now become a heck of a lot more important than it has ever been before. Users and adopters of smart phones tend to do a lot of browsing and web searches online on their smart phone devices. With Yelp being integrated into the iOS6 maps for the new iPhone, users will only see and consider marking purchases from business which are listed in the Yelp directory. This makes it all that much more important for the business owners to not only have a directory listing, but an accurate listing, and to monitor Yelp's user reviews, business images and keep business profiles updated. All of this, only to continue to secure a positive business image online in front of their target market and iPhone owners. And they can't just stop doing the same in the Google Places/Google + Local world, as other competing phone platforms still use that map/directory information.

The questions is, will users give into using TomTom's map data for the iOS6 integrated maps, or will they download their own Google maps app? I guess that all depends on how "bad" or inaccurate the current maps really are, and how much users are willing to put up with before Apple's map software catches up with the real world.

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