Yelp Calls Foul, How to Protect And Improve Your Yelp Rating

Yelp has been ramping up their efforts in combating fake and paid reviews in order to provide their users with the most accurate information and reviews possible. When it comes to figuring out which reviews are legitimate and which have been paid for, there is a lot of grey area. This opens the door to real reviews being mistaken for fake reviews and being taken down. Yelp is aware that this has been a problem for them and they have been taking steps to keep paid reviews to a minimum.

Yelp has also announced that they will be taking steps to block other forms of review manipulation targeted towards the moving industry by handing out reputation warnings on more than 100 moving companies.

Yelp is not messing around. Imagine seeing these notes on your public Yelp page:

yelp-catches-paid
Images from http://www.yelp.com/biz/spokane-laptops-spokane
Image from http://www.yelp.com/biz/abc-movers-seattle
Image from http://www.yelp.com/biz/abc-movers-seattle

Consumer Alert Program, the Beginning

Yelp started with their consumer alert program back in 2012. This program took measures to attempt to identify people who had been attempting to pay for fake reviews for their pages. They responded by tagging reviews that had been caught in the act and notifying others who visited their Yelp page. Those measures helped the problem but did not solve it. Since then, they have been actively seeking ways they can improve the accuracy of the customer reviews that are posted on their site.

Yelp Can Bite Back

Over the years, there has been an arms race between Yelp and their efforts to block paid reviews, versus the listed businesses that are seeking new ways to get around their detection systems and post fake reviews in order to improve their ratings.

Yelp has also announced that they will be taking steps to block other forms of review manipulation targeted towards the moving industry by handing out reputation warnings on more than 100 moving companies.

It’s clear that Yelp has no intention of backing down on their attempts to fight against review manipulation. If anything, they will only increase their efforts in the future.

The Concern For Business Owners

These efforts are causing many business owners to worry that they will be falsely accused of attempting to manipulate their legitimate reviews. To avoid this kind of situation, we have a few tips that you can follow to help you not only keep your good reviews, but also encourage your customers to post even more reviews.

Better Your Business, From the Inside

This sounds obvious, but happy employees better your chance of happy customers. Running a good business means making sure that everyone who works for or does business with your company is happy. You don’t want to have grumpy employees who will bring down the mood of your customers. Likewise, you don’t want to run into a customer who is in a bad mood and bring them down even further. If you work on improving the overall experience for the customer and your employees, it will result in better reviews overall.

Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews… Sort Of

While it’s a violation of Yelp’s terms, most companies are not shy to ask for reviews…of satisfied customers, of course. This can be done in a tactful way, so as to not raise eyebrows. For example, if a client says they found your business on Yelp, you could respond with, “Great! We have a lot of reviews from happy clients. It really helps our business.” Then guess what: DO A GOOD JOB and earn the review. Most of the time, asking straight up will result in either an awkward conversation or an eager client who has never given a review and is quickly filtered out.

Moving Good Reviews Out of the Filters

Yelp will sometimes move authentic reviews into the spam filter by accident. If you notice that you have good reviews that are being blocked, try to reach out to the site to get them to consider unblocking those reviews. Unfortunately this can be due to the customers’ standing with Yelp or this is their first review on Yelp, leading to a life sentence in the “not currently recommended” section until the client becomes more active on Yelp.

In the end, be smart out there, bend but don’t break, and provide a quality service and you will be fine. Break the rules like in these examples and Yelp is going to bite you.

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