Every business owner with a Yelp listing has had to face this frustration at some point in their career: bad Yelp reviews. No one likes to hear others complain about them, especially if those reviews are false. Yelp has a system to filter those reviews and ensure an honest review system. Unfortunately, the system frequently catches positive reviews that look fairly legitimate.
How the Filter Works
The filter runs on a complicated algorithm that is designed to catch fraudulent reviewers by establishing a series of “rules” that help Yelp’s systems identify a user. Yelp might look for a user’s profile picture, the number of reviews she has left, or inspect the text of the review itself to determine whether the viewpoint is slanted too far one way or the other.
The filter is designed to look at factors such as these to determine whether a review, or the reviewer, is faked.
How You Can Help
You might feel helpless, but there are a great deal of things you can do to help your positive reviews avoid the filter. First and foremost: prepare to get social! You’ll need to maintain a strong presence on Yelp. That means writing to reviewers who leave both negative and positive reviews, and somehow avoiding conflict while you do this.
Try to be fair and approach every complaint as legitimate. Offer a clear solution to resolution and offer to take the conversation private to close the deal. Once the customer leaves, hopefully satisfied, ask for his or her opinion on Yelp. Even if they update the review with an edit, it still makes your business look better.
Engage your customers in store as well. If you find that your page is seeing a lot of filtered positive reviews, provide instructions on how customers can complete their Yelp profile and make themselves into legitimate reviewers. You might have a “Did You Know” type sign in your business, or include this information as part of sales brochures or menus.
Do Not Dos
One thing that you should definitely not do is solicit positive reviews. Yelp has actually become quite sophisticated when it comes to finding businesses who engage in this practice. They conducted a sting operation recently to catch people in the act of paying for fake Yelp reviews. The sting resulted in several businesses receiving a visible banner that ratted them out for having paid for Yelp reviews.
Even if you attempt to game the system by thoroughly learning and testing these rules, odds are that you’re throwing money and effort at the wrong problem. The few positive reviews you’ll get will be offset by the effort it took to get them.
If you feel the need to improve your reviews, one of your best courses of action is to hire some kind of reputation management or branding firm. They can help you control your presence in the search engine, improve your standing and address negative reviews.