Categorized | Misc.

Why You Shouldn’t Use The Yelp API

In an effort to create a local micro-search for a client, I used the Yelp API to get listings, and the Google Maps API to display them. Using the demo code, the results were almost miraculous. Yelp does a great job of returning relevant results, and blending them with Google Maps was a breeze. Yet something felt off about the whole operation.

Searches on the Yelp homepage were different than via the API. It took a bit of sleuthing, but I finally discovered the reason:

Yelp API doesn’t return unreviewed listings.

You heard that right. A search on the homepage will wield vastly different results than a search via the API because listings without any reviews don’t show up. This has something of a deleterious effect on searches which are less than urban.

For instance, when I search for “Hospitals” in a small town on the homepage, I get a big pile of them. When I search via the API, I get BBQ joints. That’s right. Since the hospitals have no reviews, and the BBQ reviewers used phrases like “The ribs may land you in the hospital, but they sure are delicious”, these show up in a search for hospitals.

It is perhaps darkly comic to consider the man having a heart attack and using Yelp to find a hospital, only to be presented with a list of BBQ restaurants. However, if you’re dumb enough to use Yelp to find a hospital, well, there you go.

So now I don’t use the Yelp API, and Google wins again.

This post was written by:

- who has written 36 posts on whit.info.


4 Responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Use The Yelp API”

  1. Jonathan K says:

    What a missed opportunity. I just got into Yelp and am now looking for a way to get a nice list of all the unreviewed places in my area. Maybe I’m taking the service too seriously, but I enjoy collecting “1st to Review” badges and think others do too. So wouldn’t it be useful to allow people to seek out these places and review them?

    I was hoping the API would lend a hand. Heck, I would even build the web app myself if it did. Thanks for your letting me know it’s a failed dream :]

  2. So are you using the Google Places or Yahoo Local API. I am interested because I’m working on an iPad App that uses Yahoo (can’t figure out Google Places)

  3. Whit Nelson says:

    I’m using Google’s local search right now through their API. It just isn’t the same.

  4. Cher says:

    They must have changed this, because there’s a result in my API listed results with 0 reviews and no stars.

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