It was recently announced that Yelp will begin allowing its users to customize their homepage and search results based on their own preferences. This means, for instance, if you were a vegan or one searching for a kid-friendly eatery, you won’t have to continuously re-enter that info each time you perform a search. You need to enter it only once and let Yelp prioritize the results as you move forward.
A big change
This will be the first time in Yelp’s history that two people who will make the same search in the same context would come out with varying personalized results. In order to make this happen, a user has to choose the “Personalize Your Experience” feature.
For vegans, for instance, they can select options around their dietary restrictions, accessibility needs, lifestyle, the kinds of foods or restaurants they prefer, and more. The preferences chosen will start having an effect on the search results the user will see.
Expect this personalization since the results shown get determined by “many vegan options” or “because you have a preference for Italian Cuisine.” The homepage also will start to highlight locations that you may like.
Although Yelp’s move is welcome news for its users’, it is to many a move that is long overdue, especially now that other popular websites and apps are heavily personalized already. Is there a reason why Yelp has finally decided on this approach?
For one, during the past decade or two, there has been an emerging interest in various diets. Another reason is that Yelp has had many years of expressive, unstructured, and high-quality content representative of real experiences with businesses.
Furthermore, the immense growth of AI capabilities and machine learning has allowed the company to develop convenient features to add to the superior content they already have.
A more “human” approach
Instead of feeding your behavior into an algorithm, Yelp will now focus mainly on your preferences which are explicitly shared to determine the results. Additionally, any machine algorithms have a lot of biases. Yelp’s new way is “the human way.”
For instance, if you have a conversation with another person, you won’t assume what he did for the past few days. Rather, you just ask him and talk about it. There are also times when your online behavior influences the results you get. This is also very helpful and the People at Yelp are now trying to find ways to balance all those aspects.
Changes in preferences may happen depending on context and timing. For instance, you may decide to abandon your diet or go out with your partner sans the kids. With the new Yelp, you can make adjustments to your preferences anytime. You can customize your preferences by selecting from a list on the homepage.
As to whether the changes would affect Yelp’s ad business, this isn’t an issue. These changes won’t influence the general ads you initially see, but some ads will come out based on your own preferences.