Customer reviews are gaining greater visibility online as the world’s largest search engines vie for consumer attention with ever more immediate, actionable intelligence about the companies they encounter in local search results.
Taking a page from Bing’s 2012 playbook, the world’s third-favorite search engine Yahoo is now integrating ratings, reviews and photos from popular review publisher Yelp directly into its search engine results pages. Yahoo announced the “five-star partnership” this week via the company’s blog saying that “we’re especially fired up to add trusted user content from Yelp, bringing more business listings, more photos, and more reviews to the recently-refreshed Local Search and Yahoo Maps experiences.”
The format of Yahoo’s new results page bears striking similarity to Google’s, highlighting a rank order of relevant local businesses and their star ratings on Yelp, with a call-out on the right that shows details, photos and reviews:
But don’t be fooled: Yahoo’s own customer reviews haven’t been supplanted, only supplemented. Yelp’s reviews now show up mingled with Yahoo’s, presumably in accordance with some internal logic or algorithm aimed at maximizing utility to the consumer–measured, of course, by clicks. While Yelp content certainly dominates in an industry vertical like food and dining, quick searches for local lawyers, chiropractors and home inspectors yielded results far more weighted with Yahoo’s own customer ratings and reviews:
Meanwhile, Google is upping the ante and providing even more customer opinion data in search
ads, this from its consumer surveys
product. No doubt these developments underscore the high value we place on the opinions of others in making decisions ourselves. Either the influence of customer reviews is real, or else we just like clicking on the little stars.