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Company > Yelp: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2024

Yelp: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2024

Published: Jan 29, 2024

Inside This Article


    In an ever-evolving digital landscape, Yelp has established itself as a cornerstone for consumer reviews and local business discovery. In this comprehensive article, we delve into Yelp's innovative business model that has allowed it to thrive, conducting an in-depth SWOT analysis to uncover its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as of 2024. Additionally, we will explore Yelp's competitive arena, identifying key rivals and assessing how Yelp stands out or falls short in this fiercely competitive market. Join us as we dissect the factors contributing to Yelp's current market position and what the future may hold for this digital giant.

    What You Will Learn

    • The ownership structure of Yelp, its mission statement, and the intricacies of how Yelp generates revenue through its unique business model.
    • An in-depth exploration of Yelp's Business Model Canvas, providing insights into how the company operates, delivers value, and maintains its competitive edge.
    • A comprehensive analysis of Yelp's place within the market, including a look at its main competitors and a detailed SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to understand the challenges and opportunities facing Yelp.

    Who owns Yelp?

    Who owns Yelp?

    Yelp Inc., the company behind the popular local search and review site Yelp.com, is a publicly traded entity on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol YELP. This means that ownership of Yelp is distributed among all its shareholders, which include individual investors, institutional investors, and company insiders.

    The largest shareholders typically include mutual funds, pension funds, and other investment vehicles that hold stock on behalf of many individual investors. As of the last reporting period, some of the top institutional shareholders included large asset management firms and investment funds, indicating a broad base of financial support and confidence in the company's future.

    Among the individual insiders, key figures in the company such as co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman, who has served as CEO since the company's inception in 2004, are also significant shareholders. These insiders' holdings represent a combination of initial ownership stakes and shares acquired through stock options, a common practice for tech companies to incentivize and reward executives and early employees.

    Ownership can fluctuate over time based on buying and selling activity in the stock market, as well as the issuance of new shares by the company or the exercise of stock options by employees. Therefore, while the major shareholders might remain relatively stable over short periods, there can be significant shifts over the long term.

    In summary, Yelp is owned by a wide array of shareholders, including institutional investors, individual investors, and company insiders. This diversified ownership structure reflects its status as a publicly traded company and the broad interest in its business model and potential for growth in the digital economy.

    What is the mission statement of Yelp?

    Yelp, the San Francisco-based company that has become synonymous with local business reviews and ratings, operates with a clear and concise mission statement. This mission guides their operations, product development, and community engagement. Understanding Yelp's mission statement is key to grasping how they prioritize user experiences and contributions, as well as how they support local businesses.

    The Mission Statement of Yelp

    Yelp's mission statement is, "To connect people with great local businesses." At its core, this statement reflects Yelp's dedication to bridging the gap between consumers and local businesses. It's a commitment to not only helping people discover great places to eat, shop, and procure services but also to empowering local enterprises by providing them a platform to showcase their offerings and gather customer feedback.

    Breaking Down the Mission Statement

    Connecting People

    The first part of Yelp's mission focuses on the connection between people and local businesses. This involves more than just providing a list of nearby establishments. Yelp aims to create a community where users can share experiences, offer recommendations, and provide insights that benefit others. By fostering this sense of community, Yelp ensures that users have access to reliable and personal reviews, making it easier to make informed decisions about where to spend their money.

    With Great Local Businesses

    Yelp's emphasis on "great local businesses" underscores their commitment to quality and authenticity. By highlighting businesses that offer exceptional products or services, Yelp helps these establishments stand out in a crowded marketplace. This not only benefits consumers looking for top-notch experiences but also supports local economies by driving traffic to deserving businesses. Yelp's platform offers various tools for businesses to engage with their customers, respond to reviews, and improve based on feedback, which in turn helps them maintain or achieve the "great" status among their community.

    The Impact of Yelp's Mission

    Yelp's mission has had a profound impact on how people discover local businesses and make purchasing decisions. It has democratized business reviews, giving voice to ordinary consumers, and has become an essential tool for local discovery. For businesses, it offers a valuable feedback loop and a way to engage directly with their customer base. Yelp's commitment to connecting people with great local businesses has not only transformed the way we find places to eat, shop, and explore but also fostered a vibrant online community centered around shared experiences and mutual support.

    In conclusion, Yelp's mission statement is a testament to their dedication to enhancing the consumer experience while supporting local businesses. It encapsulates the essence of what Yelp aims to achieve - a world where every great local business is accessible and celebrated by a community of engaged users.

    How does Yelp make money?

    Yelp, the popular platform that connects people with great local businesses, employs several revenue streams to maintain and grow its operations. Understanding how Yelp makes money can provide insights into its business model and its importance in the local business ecosystem. Below, we delve into the main ways Yelp generates revenue.


    The primary source of Yelp's revenue comes from advertising sales to businesses. Local businesses can pay to advertise their services on Yelp to gain more visibility. This can take the form of sponsored listings, which ensures that a business appears at the top of search results or on competitor's pages. Yelp also offers other advertising products like Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates, which businesses can use to attract customers through discounts and special offers. These advertising options provide a direct way for businesses to reach potential customers actively searching for related services on Yelp.

    Yelp Reservations and Waitlist

    Yelp Reservations and Yelp Waitlist are tools for restaurants and other appointment-based businesses to manage bookings and wait times. Restaurants can use Yelp Reservations to accept online reservations directly from their Yelp page. Similarly, the Yelp Waitlist feature allows restaurants to manage their waitlist digitally, improving the customer experience and operational efficiency. Yelp charges businesses monthly subscription fees for using these services, contributing to its revenue.

    Partnership and Affiliate Programs

    Yelp has established partnerships and affiliate programs with various companies, leveraging its extensive database of business listings and reviews. For instance, Yelp has partnerships with reservation and food delivery services, where it earns referral fees for directing traffic to these services. When a Yelp user makes a reservation or places a food order through a partner service linked on Yelp, the company earns a commission from the transaction. This affiliate model adds an additional revenue stream, capitalizing on the platform's user base and the value of its content.

    Enhanced Profile Features

    Beyond basic listings, Yelp offers businesses the option to enhance their profiles with additional features. These features include adding a Call to Action (CTA) button, which encourages users to take specific actions like contacting the business or visiting the website, removing competitor ads from their page, and adding a slideshow of business photos. These enhanced profile features are available for a fee, allowing businesses to customize their presence on Yelp further and potentially attract more customers.

    In conclusion, Yelp's revenue model is multifaceted, relying on advertising, subscription services, partnerships, and enhanced profile features to make money. By providing a platform that benefits both consumers and businesses, Yelp has established itself as a key player in the local search ecosystem, continuously evolving its services to meet the needs of its users and customers.

    Yelp Business Model Canvas Explained

    Yelp has revolutionized the way people discover local businesses, from finding the perfect spot for dinner to locating a highly recommended plumber. Understanding how Yelp operates and generates value can provide insights into its success and sustainability. The Yelp Business Model Canvas offers a structured overview of Yelp's key business aspects. Below, we break down this model into its core components.

    Key Partners

    Yelp's key partners include local businesses, advertisers, and third-party service providers. Local businesses form the backbone of Yelp's content, as they are the subjects of reviews and ratings. Advertisers, which often include these local businesses, contribute to Yelp's revenue through paid advertisements and premium listings. Third-party service providers, such as map services and reservation systems, enhance the user experience by offering additional functionalities directly through Yelp.

    Key Activities

    Yelp's key activities revolve around platform management, which includes moderating reviews to ensure their authenticity and helpfulness, improving and updating the platform's features, and engaging with both the businesses and the user community. These activities are crucial for maintaining the platform's relevance and user base.

    Value Propositions

    Yelp offers distinct value propositions to its two main user groups: businesses and consumers. For consumers, Yelp provides a trustworthy and comprehensive platform to discover, evaluate, and compare local businesses based on community reviews and ratings. For businesses, Yelp offers visibility and the opportunity to engage with a large audience, gather feedback, and potentially attract more customers through advertising services.

    Customer Relationships

    Yelp maintains its customer relationships through active community engagement, customer support, and tools that allow users to personalize their experience. For businesses, Yelp offers account management services for advertisers and a suite of tools to respond to reviews, update business information, and track engagement.

    Customer Segments

    Yelp targets two primary customer segments: consumers looking for reliable business reviews and businesses seeking to improve their visibility and reputation. While consumers use the app for free, businesses can pay for advertising and premium listing services.


    Yelp primarily reaches its customers through its website and mobile applications. Social media, email marketing, and partnerships with other platforms also serve as important channels for acquisition and engagement.

    Key Resources

    Key resources for Yelp include its technology infrastructure, which supports the website and mobile apps, and the data generated by users, including reviews and ratings. The brand and community of users themselves are also critical resources, as they contribute content and credibility.

    Cost Structure

    Yelp's cost structure is dominated by expenses related to technology development and maintenance, sales and marketing to attract and retain businesses, and administrative costs. Content moderation and legal costs also constitute significant expenses, given the need to manage reviews and interactions on the platform responsibly.

    Revenue Streams

    Yelp generates revenue primarily through advertising sales, including cost-per-click ads, branded profile enhancements for businesses, and deals and events promotion. Subscription services for businesses, offering tools for analytics and increased visibility, also contribute to Yelp's revenue.

    By analyzing the Yelp Business Model Canvas, it's clear that Yelp has strategically positioned itself as a critical intermediary between consumers and local businesses. Its success hinges on balancing the needs and interests of both groups, ensuring a high-quality, trustworthy experience for users while providing valuable services to businesses.

    Which companies are the competitors of Yelp?

    When it comes to finding the best spots for dining, shopping, or various services, Yelp has long stood as a go-to platform for reviews and recommendations. However, the digital landscape is teeming with competition, and several key players vie for the attention of users seeking guidance on where to spend their money and time. Below, we delve into some of the main competitors of Yelp, each offering unique features and resources to consumers and businesses alike.

    Google Reviews

    Google Reviews is perhaps Yelp's most direct competitor. Integrated seamlessly with Google's search engine and Maps service, Google Reviews makes it incredibly easy for users to leave feedback about their experiences with businesses of all kinds. The ubiquity of Google's services on smartphones and computers gives it an edge in terms of accessibility and user base. Additionally, businesses pay close attention to their Google ratings, as these can significantly impact their visibility in search results.


    Originally focused on travel and accommodation reviews, TripAdvisor has expanded its scope to include restaurants and other local businesses, positioning itself as a strong competitor to Yelp. With its international reach and a massive collection of user-generated content, TripAdvisor serves as an essential tool for travelers and locals alike, seeking detailed reviews and forums discussing various venues.

    Facebook Recommendations

    Facebook has leveraged its global social network to enter the local business review space with Facebook Recommendations. Users can quickly find suggestions from their friends or the broader community, making it a more personalized experience. Since many businesses maintain active Facebook pages, users can easily interact with them, check events, and read reviews, all within the same platform.

    Foursquare and Swarm

    Foursquare has evolved from a check-in app to a robust location data platform, offering personalized recommendations based on a user's tastes, preferences, and the wisdom of the community. Swarm, its companion app, allows users to check into locations, share their whereabouts with friends, and collect stickers and rewards. Together, they offer a social and gamified approach to discovering local businesses and experiences.


    Specifically focusing on the food and dining industry, Zomato has carved out a niche in the restaurant review sector. It provides detailed information, including menus, photos, and user reviews, for millions of restaurants worldwide. Zomato also offers table reservation services and food delivery in certain markets, making it a direct competitor to Yelp's restaurant-related features.

    Each of these competitors brings something unique to the table, be it a focus on social networking, gamification, or specialized services. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, Yelp and its competitors must innovate and adapt to meet the changing needs and preferences of users. Whether through comprehensive reviews, seamless integration with other services, or unique features, the competition in the local business review space is fierce, offering consumers a wealth of information to make informed decisions about where to eat, shop, and more.

    Yelp SWOT Analysis

    Yelp, the popular platform that connects people with great local businesses, faces a dynamic and competitive environment. To understand its strategic position, a SWOT analysis – evaluating its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – provides valuable insights. Let's delve into each aspect.


    Vast User Base: Yelp has successfully cultivated a vast and active user community. This extensive network not only contributes to generating a wealth of reviews but also attracts new users seeking authentic feedback on local businesses.

    Brand Recognition: Yelp has become synonymous with local business reviews, achieving significant brand recognition and trust among consumers. This reputation makes it a go-to resource for discovering local restaurants, services, and much more.

    Robust Mobile Presence: With the increasing use of smartphones for local searches, Yelp's strong mobile application enhances user experience, making it convenient to find, review, and share information about local businesses on the go.

    Diverse Revenue Streams: Yelp's revenue model is multifaceted, including advertising from businesses, partnerships, and premium subscription services. This diversification helps mitigate financial risks and stabilize income.


    Dependence on User-Generated Content: Yelp heavily relies on its users to create content. While this model offers authenticity, it also poses a risk if user engagement declines or if the content quality deteriorates.

    Competition: Yelp faces stiff competition from other review platforms and tech giants like Google and Facebook, which also offer local business reviews and have broader user bases.

    Advertising Model Concerns: Small businesses often express concerns about Yelp's advertising model, including the visibility of negative reviews and the cost of advertising, which could alienate a significant portion of Yelp's clientele.


    Expansion into New Markets: Yelp has the potential to expand its services into new geographical locations and sectors, tapping into markets that are less saturated and where local business reviews are in demand.

    Technological Advancements: Investing in new technologies such as AI and machine learning could streamline the review process, offer personalized user experiences, and enhance business analytics services.

    Partnerships and Acquisitions: Forming strategic partnerships or acquiring complementary businesses can provide Yelp with new user bases, technologies, and revenue opportunities.


    Legal and Regulatory Challenges: Yelp operates in multiple jurisdictions, making it susceptible to legal and regulatory risks. Changes in laws regarding online content, privacy, and consumer rights could impact Yelp's operations and financial health.

    Public Perception and Trust: Negative publicity, concerns over review authenticity, or significant data breaches could damage Yelp's reputation, resulting in user attrition and reduced business engagement.

    Economic Fluctuations: Economic downturns can significantly impact Yelp's advertising revenue, as businesses may cut back on advertising expenditures during tough times.

    In conclusion, Yelp's SWOT analysis reveals a company with strong market presence and brand recognition, yet facing challenges in maintaining its user base and navigating a competitive landscape. To sustain and grow, Yelp must leverage its strengths, address its weaknesses, seize opportunities for expansion and innovation, and mitigate the threats it faces.

    Key Takeaways

    • Ownership and Mission of Yelp: Yelp is a publicly traded company listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol YELP. Its ownership is distributed among various shareholders, including institutional investors and individual stakeholders. The company's mission statement focuses on connecting people with great local businesses, aiming to create an easy and reliable way for users to find high-quality services and establishments based on the community's honest reviews and recommendations.

    • Revenue Generation: Yelp primarily makes money through advertising sales to businesses that wish to increase their visibility on the platform. This includes various advertising products such as sponsored search results, business page enhancements, and targeted local advertising. Additionally, Yelp also generates revenue through subscription services and partnership agreements.

    • Business Model Canvas: Yelp's Business Model Canvas highlights key aspects such as its value propositions of trustworthy user-generated content and personalized search functionality. Customer segments include both end users looking for business recommendations and businesses seeking to improve their visibility. Key partners involve businesses, advertisers, and content creators, while revenue streams are largely derived from advertising and subscription services. The model emphasizes customer relationships built on trust and community engagement.

    • Competitive Landscape: Yelp faces competition from a range of companies in the online review and local search ecosystem. Major competitors include Google My Business, TripAdvisor, Angie's List, and Zomato. Each of these platforms offers unique features, but they all compete for the attention of both consumers looking for business information and businesses wanting to advertise their services.

    • SWOT Analysis Summary: Yelp's Strengths include a strong brand reputation and a large base of user-generated content. Weaknesses encompass challenges in differentiating from competitors and dealing with the authenticity of reviews. Opportunities lie in expanding its services globally and leveraging advanced technology like AI for personalized recommendations. Threats include intense competition, changing algorithms on search engines affecting visibility, and potential legal and regulatory challenges regarding content and privacy.


    In conclusion, Yelp stands as a pivotal player in the online review and local search space, owned by a diverse group of shareholders rather than a single entity. Its mission, "To connect people with great local businesses," underscores its commitment to enhancing user experiences and supporting small businesses. Yelp generates revenue through advertising, premium listing features for businesses, and partnership programs, illustrating a multifaceted business model that leverages user-generated content and business owner engagement.

    The Yelp Business Model Canvas reveals a strategic approach that focuses on key partners, activities, resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure, and revenue streams. This comprehensive model ensures Yelp's sustainability and growth in a competitive landscape.

    Speaking of competition, Yelp navigates a market teeming with rivals such as Google, TripAdvisor, and Angie's List, among others. These competitors push Yelp to continuously innovate and improve its offerings to maintain its relevance and appeal to both users and businesses.

    The SWOT analysis of Yelp highlights its influential user base and strong brand presence as major strengths. However, it also points out challenges such as intense competition and the ongoing need to enhance its monetization strategies without compromising user trust.

    Yelp's journey reflects a blend of strategic vision, adaptability, and a deep understanding of its stakeholders' needs. As it moves forward, Yelp's ability to innovate in response to competitive pressures and changing market dynamics will continue to be critical. Equally important is its commitment to its mission, which has been the north star guiding its strategies and operations from the outset. As we have seen, Yelp's story is one of connection, community, and commerce, intricately woven together to create a platform that resonates with millions of users and businesses worldwide.


    What is yelp's competitive advantage?

    Yelp's competitive advantage lies in its extensive database of customer reviews, ratings, and recommendations for local businesses. This wealth of user-generated content sets Yelp apart from its competitors and provides valuable information for consumers looking for reliable and trustworthy recommendations for restaurants, shops, and other services in their area. Additionally, Yelp's mobile app and website make it easy for users to search for businesses, read reviews, and make informed decisions on where to spend their money.

    How can I find a SWOT analysis on a company?

    There are a few ways you can find a SWOT analysis on a company:

    1. Company websites: Some companies may have their SWOT analysis published on their website or in their annual reports. Search for the company's official website and look for any sections related to investor relations or corporate information.

    2. Business news and industry reports: Many business news websites, industry publications, and market research firms publish SWOT analyses on various companies. You can search for the company you are interested in along with the keywords "SWOT analysis" to find relevant reports.

    3. Business databases: You can also access business databases such as Bloomberg, Hoover's, or MarketLine through your university or library to find SWOT analyses on specific companies. These databases often provide detailed and comprehensive information on companies, including their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

    4. Consulting firms: Consulting firms such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, or Deloitte may have published SWOT analyses on companies in specific industries. You can search their websites or contact them directly to inquire about available reports.

    5. Academic journals: Some academic journals may also publish SWOT analyses on companies as part of research articles or case studies. You can search for relevant journals in your field of interest to find such analyses.

    What are the 5 elements of SWOT analysis?

    1. Strengths
    2. Weaknesses
    3. Opportunities
    4. Threats
    5. Trends

    What are 4 examples of threats in SWOT analysis?

    1. Competition from other businesses in the industry
    2. Changes in government regulations that could impact operations
    3. Economic downturns that could affect consumer spending
    4. Technological advancements that could make current products or services obsolete

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