How To Personalize Yelp So It Takes Your Dietary Preferences & Lifestyle Into Account

by Caroline Burke

For all the foodies out there who want greater control over restaurant exploration, you're in luck: Yelp will introduce a new personalization feature that will take different types of preferences into account when you search for restaurants from now on. So whether you're a parent looking for a toddler-friendly spot, or someone looking for gluten-free dining options, Yelp has you covered.

According to TechCrunch, this new feature will self-update as soon as you type in whatever preferences you have. So that way, you won't have to select "vegetarian" as a preference every single time you search for food. Instead, the site will remember the info and use it for future searches as well.

In a statement, Akhil Ramesh, Yelp's head of consumer product, said via TechCrunch, “In the history of Yelp, this is the first time two people searching for the same thing from the same context are going to see different, personalized results." He added, "We have years and years of unstructured, expressive, quality content...Over the last few years our machine learning and AI capabilities have grown immensely, and what that’s allowed us to do is build really useful features on top of the high quality content that we have."

According to a press release from Yelp, these new personal preference options will be based off of five general categories: diet, lifestyle, accessibility, food and drink, and interest. And as for those five categories of personalization, they cover a lot of ground. For the accessibility category, people will now be able to search for restaurants that have wheelchair accessibility or gender-neutral bathrooms, according to the release.

For the diet category, the press release has this to say about the new preference feature:

32 million Americans have food allergies and many are conscious about the food they’re consuming. Yelp is now helping people bypass sifting through menu photos and reviews to confirm if a restaurant has options for those who are gluten-free, halal, keto, kosher, pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian. Personalized highlights within their search results will identify if a restaurant has some or many food options based on their dietary restrictions.

As for the lifestyle category, it will allow more customization based on whether you're driving a car, or are a pet owner, or a parent, for example. And food and drink is exactly what it sounds like — a long list of categories, like "brunch" and "happy hour."

You can select which categories you love the most, so that Yelp can further personalize your offerings. The last category, interest, is actually not food related. Instead, it offers users the option of marking down their favorite hobbies, like hiking or reading, so that Yelp can offer events and activities going on in your area.

The new Yelp feature is available everywhere on desktop today, and will be available to all users on iOS devices this fall, according to the app's press release. Filling out your preferences should take about two minutes of your time, according to the site. After that, you'll be good to go — until your favorite food switches from Thai to Japanese, that is. Then you might want to update your preferences.