First some stats – according to Comscore Yelp had 3.3m users in March, up 87% on a year ago. At the time of writing their Alexa is 808.
That is a good performance, to be sure, but it is too soon to call it a runaway success.
- A focus on the reviewer as the most important aspect of the site – they didn’t pay for reviews, or subordinate them to professional comment, but instead motivated reviewers through praise and attention from other users, including ratings of their reviews
- An initial focus on San Francisco which allowed them to get to critical mass
A religious focus on the early adopter (for Yelp the reviewer) and getting critical mass in a tight community are good strategies for any consumer internet service.