In my last post I explained the basics about Yelp and how to get started listing your business on the site. This time we’ll go deeper and talk about the dreaded Yelp filter, how to deal with bad reviews, statistics, and advertising considerations.
The Yelp Filter
Let me explain the Yelp filter. It’s an automated process whereby certain reviews are hidden behind a Captcha and not incorporated in to a business’s Star rating. Why do they hide certain reviews? Yelp explains it best in this blog post and video.
Now I certainly don’t have the details on how the formula decides on a review’s legitimacy, but I have some ideas. I think a person’s first review when it’s glowing or an outright slam is often filtered.
Yelp seems to believe that a first time review that’s extreme just might either be a favor in action, or a disgruntled employee or malicious competitor. I’ve seen a real review get unfiltered once the Yelper (person who wrote the review) wrote a second real review on another business. Thus, a filtered review can get unfiltered.
As they say, the filter’s imperfect. What’s also imperfect is that there is no legitimate process for a business to get a real review unfiltered or an obviously fake malicious review filtered. I’d like to see Yelp improve in this area.
Dealing With a Bad Review
Yelp says that bad reviews actually balance the perspective on a business and make everything look more real. In a way I agree with this. No business is perfect and the idea that they never do anything wrong as it would appear if they only have 5-star reviews seems flawed. This is to say that you should wear a bad review proudly as a sign that you’re running a real business and that you’re human. Of course, that’s difficult in reality.
If you do get a bad review you can publicly or privately comment to the reviewer. If there are inaccuracies in the review you may want to first write a private note explaining the issues and asking for a revision. If the reviewer is unwilling to do so for whatever reason, then you should write a public comment that isn’t accusatory or argumentative, but simply and concisely states that you are committed to customer satisfaction and would like an opportunity to make it right with this reviewer. You want to look concerned and supportive.
If the review is defamatory, then you should contact Yelp directly asking for help to remove the review.
In the case of a positive review you can also publicly comment thanking the reviewer for the effort they’ve made to express their satisfaction with your business.
I have a strong feeling that if Yelp would take further steps to positively identify people using their reviewing service there would be less incidence of fake reviews. They tout the value of their millions of reviews though it’s undoubtedly the case that a percentage of them are completely fake.
The stats available to business owners on Yelp are pretty lean. Basically what you get are:
The information can be segmented by different time periods. As your page gets more reviews you should see more traffic and results. I believe this is because your business gains legitimacy as it garners reviews. In the image below you can see the stats from my page over the last 12 months.
Once you claim your business on Yelp and set up your profile you’ll receive a weekly email from Yelp telling you how many views your profile has had and how many user actions occurred. A user action would be a click-through to your website for example.
It’s valuable to view your stats on a regular basis to see a connection between increased Yelp activity and new leads for your business. You should always ask prospects where they found out about you. When they’ve read Yelp reviews before contacting you they usually remember, which is good.
Advertising on Yelp
I usually recommend advertising on Yelp to businesses that already have at least 3-5 positive reviews and are seeing some traffic to their business. This is because I don’t believe that advertising will help much if the person sees the ad on Yelp, goes to the business’s Yelp page and sees hardly any reviews. This goes against the grain of what Yelp is all about. Does that make sense?
If you have several great reviews and are seeing some customers coming from Yelp, then you may find it valuable to step on the gas and see if you can get more. Yelp’s ad sales team likes to sign up customers for a 12-month agreement and will give you their best pricing and packages for doing so. Be advised though that you will need to pay a penalty if you want to get out of the contract should it prove to be less than useful to your business. 6-month agreements are also available.
You can advertise on Yelp a few different ways these days.
Well there you have it. I hope this comprehensive guide to Yelp is helpful to you. This can be a very powerful site for the small business owner that understands it clearly and uses it effectively.
Please post your comments and questions below.
Dale, I appreciate your comment. I do believe the business owner that pays attention to Yelp and how it works can benefit from the platform.
Agreed to you ...But if some one post a false comment for you and even you have not provided services to them..then how to handle it any suggestions....
Thanks GrowthCoach for taking the time to write this guide. I'm a web designer and my clients have been asking me to help them boost their Yelp score, and I was about to suggest them to ask their friends and family for reviews until I learned about Yelp Filter effect from your guide. Good stuff.
You're welcome! I'm really glad to hear this guide has been useful to you. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
really impressed by this i am looking for some thing same as i am freelancer i have to handle several clients one of my client required the exact details which you have mention here you have saved my time ..Appereciate your job
Thank you for your positive comments. I'm really glad to hear this post was helpful to you. Feel free to click the Star button if you'd like to encourage me to write further articles like these and call out this post to the Community.
I just stumbled across this. Thank you for the good info. I've played around with lots of theories about filtered reviews, but I've neve considered the "if the first review is too good they won't believe you're a real person" theory. I think you might have something there! I'm teaching a Yelp class in January, so I'll add this.
I've been researching more about yelp's helpful features for business. I'm glad i found this reliable resource.