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Online reviews site and ratings aggregator Yelp has made changes to liberate its API, upping the limit for pulling reviews, ratings, photos, and local business information from 100 calls a day to 25,000 calls a day.

It has also revamped its developer site, which the company says is now much easier to use due to a new user interface, clear step-by-step documentation, an FAQ section, and even code samples.

What this means, basically, is that developers can now take advantage of Yelp’s impressive database and rich content and scrape its online reviews without the need for pre-approval. It could also mean that more developers would depend on Yelp’s data instead of that of its competitors, especially after Nielsen released a new study saying that Yelp is the most influential, trustworthy, and highest-quality review site – at least in the eyes of consumers.

The Yelp API lets users search over 50 million local businesses from 27 countries. It also includes powerful category and geo-search filters.

“Historically, Yelp has been pretty closely guarded as a data set,” said Mike Ghaffary, Yelp VP of Business Development. Now, however, they’re freeing up usage of their API “to get the most useful local information to as many users as possible… Yelp’s open API is available for anyone who wants to develop on it, completely free of charge.”

In an analysis on TechCrunch, Josh Constine writes that Yelp’s free API and revamped developer site could “persuade (developers) to use its database instead of Foursquare or Google Places, which were much more openly available until now.” (Also see: “Google Expands Places API with Zagat Reviews and Place Summaries)

Yelp’s API is already currently integrated with Apple’s iOS and OS X, Yahoo Search (and Yahoo Local), and the Pebble smartwatch.

Shobeir Shobeiri, Head of Business Development at Pebble says Yelp’s API is “easy to integrate.” “People love having access to Yelp businesses, ratings and reviews right on their wrist,” Shobeiri says.

Foursquare currently has a limit of 5,000 calls per hour before approval. Google’s Places API, meanwhile, has a free 100,000 calls per day limit.

“Getting more apps showing Yelp reviews helps the company convince businesses it’s important to court positive ones,” added Constine. “The click-backs that API integrations generate could get more people viewing Yelp’s ads, too. And most importantly, seeing Yelp around the Web reminds people to come straight to it when it’s time to find a great restaurant, dentist, or masseuse. With increasing competition from Facebook, MyTime, Foursquare, Google, and more, Yelp needs this visibility more than ever.”

(Image credit: Yelp Official Blog)

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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