Yelp! The Scary State of Affairs at Yelp.com

There are currently 2.8 million businesses listed on Yelp.  As of this year, approximately 145 million people use Yelp every month. This includes almost 30 million non-US visitors.  About 70% of those page views come from mobile devices.  Since the day it was founded in 2004 up until now, Yelp has accumulated over 121 million reviews.

Yelp has become the host of an array of reviews.  Even jails get reviewed, one of which got a 5 star. You can’t help but laugh when you read it: “First off, you don’t even need a ride here. They pick you up from anywhere in the county. Sometimes they even get you out of bed and bring you and it’s all free of charge.”

But on a more serious side, Yelp has not been doing well in the marketplace per CNN Money.  Their annual reported profit last year was 4.7 million in the red, which is a tremendous loss.  Moreover, news reports regarding fake reviews on Yelp are bringing down the company’s credibility.  The company is hoping to turn this around.

How to Handle and Remove a Yelp Review

One thing to be aware of is that some reviews on Yelp can fall into their filter of “currently not recommended” category, which can be seen at the bottom of a page. This basically keeps some reviews hidden.  This happens when the person who wrote the review, is not being particularly active on Yelp.  This can be a good thing when the reviewer has posted something negative, but not great when the review was a five star.  Now, if you can find and contact the originator of the positive review, you can let them know that their fantastic review is being hidden and get them active on Yelp again. Additionally, if you and some of your employees add the positive reviewers as friends and mark their reviews as useful, you should be able to pull a significant amount of the 5-star reviews out of the filter.

When negative reviews do show up, the first thing you should do is review Yelp’s guidelines and see if the review violates any of them. If so flag the review (click the flag in the bottom right-hand corner). You will then be given a drop down menu from which you select one of the categories of guideline violation. At this point, you will fill out detailed information about why you are flagging it, including specifics on how the content does not comply with a particular guideline.  Basically, state your case to report the review.  As a tip, use the words Terms of Service violation in your report.  Many companies like Yelp use an automated ticketing system which is apparently programmed to first review an incoming message with specific words.  When your request is received, it will then go directly to the staff member specializing in terms of service violations, which increases your chances of getting the review removed. It usually takes 3-5 business days to receive a response from Yelp by email.

Also, if you haven’t done so previously, you will need to “claim your business page” in Yelp’s terms, before you can report a review from your Yelp business account.

Meanwhile, it is a good idea to reply to the review publicly stating that the review is a violation of Yelps terms of service and has been flagged for removal.  If you believe the review is fake, you can include that in your reply.  For example, “John Doe is not currently, nor has ever been a client of our company.  This is a fake review and has been flagged for violation of Yelp terms of service.”

Finally, if you must seek legal action, then do so, but don’t simply ignore the issue as your business reputation is at stake.  Statistically, 14% of Yelp reviews are 1 star, 8% are 2 stars, 11% are 3 stars, 24% are 4 stars, and 43% are 5-star reviews. If you only care to receive 4 and 5 star reviews for your company, you will need to handle the remaining 33% of reviews, and at the same time don’t hesitate to use the opportunity to do some quality control in the company if you have a significant number of negative (but not seemingly fake) reviews coming in.  Businesses that receive 5-star reviews on Yelp are generally cited to have friendly staff and great customer service, cleanliness, and a generous return policy. Beyond that, it pays to strategize how you will gain new 5 star reviews.  Use the Yelp improvement calculator to help you work this out.  Future planning is just as important as damage control.

For expert strategies on removing unfavorable content from Yelp and other platforms, call Massive Alliance at 813-666-5583.

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