Yelp.com & Unique Vistors: Would the Real Number Please Stand Up

While there may be some dispute about the origins of the saying: “there are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics” there is little disagreement about its general truthfulness. It seems particularly appropriate in regard to Yelp’s unique visitors.

Yesterday Yelp.com announced at SMX East that they had 38 million uniques on the desktop and it picqued my curiosity. Yelp.com has done a great job of generating reviews and adding value around them and I have been following them over the years as both a user and a professional, watching thier efforts to move from a niche restaurant site in the major markets to a broad based general site. Have they moved out of the niche and into the mainstream? Certainly 38 million uniques would indicate so.

But I was curious for some verification of Yelp’s numbers so I went to Quantcast, Compete and Comscore to see if I could independantly confrim them. The results, far from enlightening, illustrate the many ways that unique visitors can be counted.

Source Yelp Uniques Chart (click to view larger)
Yelp 38 Million
ComScore 24 Million
Quantcast 12.6 Million
Compete 10.1 Million

Your thoughts?

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Yelp.com & Unique Vistors: Would the Real Number Please Stand Up by

7 thoughts on “Yelp.com & Unique Vistors: Would the Real Number Please Stand Up”

  1. Interesting. When comparing data I have access to, I’ve always found ComScore to be inflated. Quantcast and Compete have generally had more accurate data.

  2. These numbers will just be for US visitors (not sure about Comscore, but definitely Qunacast), and Yelp were probably referring to all their sites (US, Canada, UK, France, Ireland, Germany). Furthermore a lot of people browse Yelp whilst at work, which messes with the way these services collect data. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were doing 30 – 40 million uniques. About 25m US and 10m ish the rest. Google trends (which I find is a better source if you aren’t bothered about the lag) would put yelp.com at around 25m.

  3. @Dan

    How do you get Google Trends to display a hard number? I thought it was only used for determining scale. According to Google Trends the traffic from the other countries appears to be insignificant.

  4. @Dan
    Your assessment makes sense but like David, I didn’ realize Trends showed hard numbers.

    One thing that is interesting is that complete, before their methodology change in June were in fact were showing Yelp in the 25-30 million range. When I asked them about it, they said they were no longer counting traffic from Widgets and other embedded sources of traffic. Not sure how that would cause such a drop but it at least put their numbers in the range of Yelp, comscore & google.

  5. It seems most companies can skew these results so they favor what they are trying to show. There are so many strange outcomes based on what you’re using to measure. Not sure where they are getting their numbers.

  6. Google estimates 28 million estimated cookies, 10 million users.

    Yelp uses Google Analytics, which would be far more accurate than any of these estimation sites. Plus they are likely getting a ton of mobile usage that these trackers cannot figure out.

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