Yelp has announced that its app will now offer a personalized experience based on users’ interests.
Rather than business listings being ranked by rating or popularity, the app’s homepages and search result listings will be tailored based on personal preferences
In a blog post published Tuesday, Yelp describes the update as a broader initiative to turn Yelp into a “personal concierge for all things local” rather than simply a business directory and review platform.
In other words, Yelp doesn’t just want to show you popular listings, but help you discover new places that fit your lifestyle or interests.
How does it work?
You would think that a feature like this would be algorithm-based — however, personalization preferences are actually manually entered in a quick questionnaire Yelp says takes “less than two minutes.”
This model actually makes sense for Yelp, as it allows users to indicate exactly who they are or what they’re looking for in a restaurant or local business — something most algorithms can only guess at.
Users can indicate interests across five categories:
Dietary Restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, keto, gluten-free, or other specialized diet)
Food/Drink Preferences (specific favored cuisines, places with special offerings like happy hours or brunch)
Interests (things like hiking, kid-friendly activities, live music, “date night” spots)
Once you indicate these settings, your entire feed is updated to reflect businesses that best match your preferences.
To make it even easier for users, Yelp also highlights specific attributes about each business to show why you may like it.
Here’s a quick video from Yelp that explains how the process works:
Takeaway for marketers
Previously, the biggest thing that mattered on Yelp was your rating.
Now, the personalization feature makes this a bit more complex.
Marketers with a presence on Yelp should take a second look at their profile to ensure that all offerings are accounted for.
For example, if someone has indicated they’re vegetarian, they won’t see your listing unless your profile states that your restaurant has vegetarian options.
Not only do you risk losing customers seeing your listings if you leave details like these off, but having them on there can be a big factor in someone choosing your business over a local competitor.
Of course, getting positive reviews is still a vital feature on Yelp, but businesses should do a quick check that their profile accounts for everything their business offers.
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