According to Quantcast, Yelp is the tenth most popular website on desktop and the second most popular website on mobile in the United States. With so many sites out there, why is Yelp so special?
My theory involves Yelp’s use of identity. Identity is central to the human experience. One of the first things we learn is how to say our names, “I am Eisaiah. I am Susie. I am Peter.”
Yelp’s users call themselves as “Yelpers.” Top users are called “Yelp Elites.” Businesses identify themselves with stickers that say, “People love us on Yelp.” In the video above, there are 41 pieces of my identity attached to my Yelp profile.
As far as I know, Yelp leads the internet yellow pages industry when it comes to infusing its identity into users’ identities. Being a Yelper is a badge of honor. Yelping a business has become synonymous for finding a business and interacting with its reviews.
How do we know that converting users into Yelpers drives results? Look at what happens on slides 11 and 24 of this Q2 2016 investor update. In cities where the company hires a “community manager” to deepen relationships with Yelpers, quantifiably more reviews are generated. Reviews, in turn, drive web traffic to Yelp.com.
The more traffic Yelp gets, the more revenue it makes and the more Yelpers it converts. The momentum fuels itself, which is – in my opinion – why Yelp is one of the most popular websites in the United States.