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Understanding the Yelp Review Filter

In background, a woman works on math equations with a laptop. Text in foreground says: Cracking the code on Yelp's Review Filter.

In our last post, we looked at everything you need to know about Yelp Reviews. This week, we’ll look in more depth at Yelp’s review filter and how it works.

Yelp is one of the most popular online review platforms, with almost 100 million unique visitors last year.

It’s also one of the most notorious.

Why?

Yelp uses a proprietary algorithm to identify, filter, and remove fake reviews. The Yelp review filter removes scores of reviews every day. In theory, it sounds admirable that they go to such lengths to combat fake reviews. But in practice, it proves complicated.

Let’s look at how the Yelp review filter works, why some love it, and why others detest it.

First: The Power of Reviews

First things first: Why are fake reviews such a problem to begin with?

The reason’s simple: Reviews are a powerful tool.

87% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.

The influence reviews have is enormous. They can compel shoppers to try a new brand, buy a new product, or look the other way. They inform customer decisions on a vast, global scale, leading some brands to soar and others to crash.

That power means review platforms like Yelp have some responsibility. It means they need to monitor their reviews and ensure they’re truthful and authentic, not fake. Otherwise, a slew of fake reviews could hurt the user experience—especially if those users get conned by a false word or two.

Fake reviews can put a brand like Yelp’s reputation at risk. But Yelp has a strategy to stop them.

The Yelp Review Filter

To filter out fake reviews, Yelp uses a proprietary algorithm it calls its “recommendation software.

Yelp’s recommendation software filters reviews based on several factors, including:

  • The reviewer’s user profile
  • How active the reviewer is on Yelp
  • The content in the review

After reviewing that information, Yelp will make a decision either to recommend the review or not recommend it.

Recommended reviews automatically appear on a business’s Yelp page. They also count toward the business’s rating on Yelp.

Unrecommended reviews are not immediately visible. They’re hidden from most users’ sight, and they do not factor into the business’s Yelp score.

Yelp hides unrecommended reviews, but they never delete reviews. Instead, they hide those they deem unworthy. You can read unrecommended reviews by following the link at the bottom of a business’s Yelp page:The bottom of a Yelp review page, which shows "161 other reviews that are not currently recommended."

How Does the Yelp Review Filter Work?

Yelp’s review filter considers several factors to identify and hide potentially fake reviews. It’s overzealous by design, removing anything with even a hint of phoniness.

Yelp doesn’t release many details about its recommendation software because they don’t want people trying to cheat it. Still, we know the software considers several factors when evaluating reviews. Three of the most important are:

  • The Reviewer’s User History. One way that Yelp filters reviews is by identifying established users – users that review often. The software works to syndicate established users’ reviews onto business pages for the world to see. While reviews of less active users are never deleted, they may seem more suspicious to the algorithm and not pop up on the business’ site.
  • The Content of the Review. Yelp’s recommendation software examines reviews’ content, including their length and style Reviews that are shorter, overly glowing, or less detailed are often flagged as fraudulent and tend to be removed. Likewise, reviews that are overly combative, hinting at a conflict of interest, may also be removed.
  • Solicitation. Unlike Google, Yelp strictly forbids any sort of review solicitation. If they suspect a business asked a customer to review them on Yelp, they will hide that review. Yelp wants its review system to replicate “word of mouth” as much as possible, and according to them, solicited reviews diminishes that word-of-mouth experience.

The Yelp review filter is constantly evolving. The reviews it recommends (and doesn’t recommend) may change from day to day because it’s always evaluating new signals. As such, you may notice reviews “disappear” then “reappear” from time to time. According to Yelp, it’s not a flaw. It’s a feature.

Why Does Yelp Filter Reviews?

Yelp filters reviews to combat malicious reviewing and give the consumer a more genuine understanding of a business’s reputation.

Yelp and its competitors know how critical authentic reviews are to the overall reliability of their site, and it’s in their best interest to ensure they’re as genuine as possible.

What’s the Problem with Yelp’s Review Filter?

If you’ve read up to here, you might have already noticed some problems with Yelp’s review filter:

  • It hides real reviews as well as fake reviews
  • Removing genuine reviews can hurt a business’s reputation
  • The number of hidden reviews is constantly changing (and feels arbitrary)

Yelp says its review filter is supposed to capture the word-of-mouth reputation of a business. But there’s a problem with this:

Some industries feel the Yelp review filter’s effects far more than others. 

Meanwhile, others are not nearly as affected.

Take the service industry, for example. Restaurants are one of the most regularly reviewed businesses on Yelp. They tend to acquire many reviews from dedicated Yelp users.

Those Yelp users might visit dozens of restaurants, leaving a detailed review for each of them. And because the Yelp review filter prioritizes reviews from regular Yelp users, those reviews will all look authentic and stay unfiltered.

But other industries can’t count on their customers to be regular Yelp users.

Consider the general contractor. A contractor might take on 1-2 jobs a month. Already, they’re at a disadvantage because they have far fewer customers.

Worse yet, the contractor’s clients are far less likely to be regular Yelp users. They might only write a review on Yelp as an afterthought. They might even have to create a Yelp account because they’ve never used the platform before. And because those reviews are coming from new accounts, they’re far more likely to be filtered out.

Plus, that contractor can’t ask clients to write a review: That’d be against Yelp’s policy. So, if you’re a service provider that targets a certain demographic—such as the older, not-so-tech-savvy crowd—you’re left in a bit of a catch-22: Your clients might not think to leave you a Yelp review, yet you can’t remind them, either. And even if the occasional one remembers to write a review, it’s at a much greater risk of being removed anyway.

We Still Have Much to Learn

Deterring fraudsters and making review pages more reliable is a worthy pursuit in the internet age. While we still have a lot to learn about navigating downfalls and ironing out discrepancies, using algorithms and communication analytics to monitor reviews is a step in the right direction.


Have you had a run-in with the Yelp review filter? Got a tip for how to overcome it? Leave a comment below! And if you need help managing your business’s online reputation, don’t hesitate to reach out to LinkNow at 888-667-71864 or by emailing website@linknowmedia.com.

Yelp Reviews: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Everything you need to know about Yelp reviews.
It’s no secret that online reviews can make or break a business—and Yelp is the undisputed king of dedicated review sites.

Most business owners in 2021 will have likely already heard the name Yelp, but they might not be aware of just how large a role it can play in their success. Founded in 2004, Yelp has maintained steady growth and a consistent user base, many of whom take the platform’s ratings as gospel.

The result? Yelp can be a powerful tool, or a thorn in your side. Here’s what you need to know—the good, the bad, and the ugly about Yelp—to make the most of it.

The Good

Making the Most of Your Yelp Page

Though you can’t directly control the feedback that your customers provide, you can use Yelp to promote positive reviews for your business.

By taking the time to give your Yelp page some attention (and by providing good service overall), you can increase the likelihood your customers will leave you a glowing testimonial.

Follow these three guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to Yelp greatness.

1.     Claim and Manage Your Yelp Page

First, activate your business page on Yelp. If your business is already on Yelp, claim your page so you have ownership. Doing so is essential, giving you the authority to make changes and respond to reviews.

After you have claimed or created a listing for your business, take the time to add photos, phone numbers, and hours of operation—it will make you look more professional and provide customers with all the information they need.

2.     Advertise That You Are on Yelp

Customers will be much more likely to leave you a rating on Yelp if they know you are on there.

Yelp offers many different ways to promote pages, both physically and digitally.

Posting a “Find us on Yelp” sign on your door or inside your establishment is a great way to subtly advocate for reviews. You can also add a Yelp QR code to your storefront, or a digital badge that links your website to your Yelp page.

3.     Respond to Yelp Reviews

Receiving reviews on your Yelp page—positive or negative—provides a great opportunity to show that you care about your business. Taking a few minutes to acknowledge people’s experiences will show you take all feedback seriously.

You might not be able to resolve all the issues that appear in your reviews, but by replying, you can prove that you are passionate about providing the best service possible.

The Bad

Avoid These Yelp Blunders

You might be eager to start promoting your Yelp page, but there are some important things to note first.

There are a few rules for advertising your business on the platform that should be followed to avoid any penalties. Yelp is strict with scammy, spammy, and unsavvy behavior, so don’t get yourself caught doing something against their guidelines.

Above all, heed the following:

1.     Do Not Offer Rewards for Reviews

Never advertise any discount or deal in exchange for Yelp reviews. It is perfectly acceptable to request reviews from your customers, but they must never be bribed in order to do so.

2.     Do Not Ask for Positive Reviews

Yelp clarifies that while it is perfectly okay to remind your customers to leave reviews, you must not specifically request positive reviews. Instead, you should focus on providing the best experience possible and hope that the feedback you receive accurately reflects your hard work.

3.     Do Not Buy Yelp Reviews

Paying a review-generating service to bump up your rating on Yelp may seem like a fast track to the top, but it is absolutely not worth the risk. Not only is it dishonest—it could result in a large warning being attached to your Yelp page to alert customers of your shady reviews.

Buying fake reviews is never worth it, least of all on Yelp. Their review filter is notoriously strict, removing almost any review that has even a hint of phoniness.

The Ugly

Dealing with Negative Reviews

If your business is available to be reviewed online, it is only a matter of time before you receive your first negative review. That being said, you don’t need to panic just because you noticed a 1-star rating.

No business is perfect, but it is important to acknowledge your mistakes and move forward as gracefully as possible. It never feels good to receive a negative testimonial, but you can mitigate the damage and put a positive spin on things by keeping the following tips in mind.

Remain Calm

Your first instinct might be to push back against your unsatisfied customer, but this will never help your situation. Instead, take a moment to reflect on the review and why the person left it before drafting your reply.

By taking a level-headed approach and treating your reviewer with respect, you can highlight your professionalism to prospective customers in the future.

Acknowledge Criticism and Promise to Do Better

Negative reviews don’t always have to be a bad thing. They provide a great opportunity to reflect on your customer service and improve on any shortcomings.

If you receive complaints about a particular aspect of your business, try to empathize with the person leaving the review and offer solutions about how you can make things right.

Focus on the Good

It is also a smart idea to highlight any positive content in the bad reviews you receive.

Did someone receive poor service at your restaurant but enjoy their food? Take a moment to apologize for the bad experience and express your pride in your product and invite them to give you another shot.

Read more on how respond to negative online reviews

Using Yelp to Your Advantage

Yelp is a fantastic platform for increasing awareness of your business and showcasing your top-notch service. But it’s not the only factor that determines your success.

Your primary focus should always be to provide the best experience for your customers—do this, and everything else will fall into place. Give good service, and your standing in Yelp will follow. Think of your Yelp as the result of your hard work rather than the goal you strive for.


 

Have your own Yelp story to share? Got any tips that worked for you? Leave a comment below!

If  you need help managing your online reputation, the digital marketing masters at LinkNow are here to help. Contact us at 1.888.667.7186 or website@linknowmedia.com for more details about what we can do for you.

Can Fake Reviews Hurt My Business?

Getting online reviews is one of the fastest ways to improve your web presence. Getting fake reviews is one of the quickest ways to ruin it. Whether the fake reviews are positive or negative doesn’t matter. They’re both bad. Either way, they can destroy the trust your clients have in you, ruin your reputation with Google, and lower your ranking in local search results.

Read on to find out why and learn how to protect yourself by reporting fake reviews!

The Two Types of Fake Reviews

We can divide fake reviews into two categories: positive and negative.

The positive ones tend to originate internally. Someone within a company will write a slew of glowing reviews praising the place and padding their online score in the hopes of making themselves look better than their competitors. In some cases, companies will even buy fake reviews from a shady third-party provider on the net.

The more nefarious—and notorious—type is the negative fake reviews. A single one-star review isn’t of too much concern. Sure, it can be unsightly, but it won’t ruin your reputation. Heck, a few bad reviews can even be good for business. More frightening, however, are the smear campaigns set up by rival companies.

In such instances, a competitor will set up multiple online accounts on a review platform so that they can bombard their opponent with bad review after bad review, sabotaging their reputation and careening their business. As was the case with false positive reviews, some competitors have also been caught paying a third party to write negative reviews.

What Can Happen If I’m the Victim of a Fake Review Campaign?

Fake reviews pose numerous problems for business owners, namely:

  1. They destroy trust. Generally, consumers tend to weigh negative reviews more heavily than good ones. If you’ve been hit by a slew of bad reviews, you can expect customers to think twice before choosing you. To make matters worse, readers are usually much better at spotting fake positive reviews than fake negatives. However, with the rise in fake reviews over the past 10 years, users have, on the whole, gotten much better at distinguishing between the genuine and the fake. It’s par for the course if you’re an active internet user in 2019.
  2. They damage your online reputation. Reviews are an essential aspect of your online reputation. If you solicit fake reviews, or if you’re hit with a negative ad campaign, your reputation as a service provider will suffer. Not only will your clients not trust you—neither will Google. Which leads to our third problem…
  3. They can lead to penalties and fines.Google penalizes businesses that do not play by the rules. If you’re found guilty of violating their policies by requesting fake reviews, you may find yourself removed from local search results listings. Offenders can even be fined. In a New York sting operation, the attorney general charged fake review companies with $350,000 in fines.

To sum up: If you’ve been thinking about writing or buying fake reviews, think again. Don’t do it. It’s unethical, it’s impractical, and it won’t pay off. Just don’t.

How Can I Stop Fake Reviews from Hurting My Business?

You should report any fake reviews directly to the review platform.

To report a review on Google:

  1. Locate the review in question
  2. Hover your mouse over the review. Click the “Flag” icon:
  3. On the next page, enter your email address and the reason for the violation:

To report fake reviews on Yelp:

  1. Sign into your business account using the Yelp Business Owners website (biz.yelp.com). If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one to manage your listing.
  2. Locate the review in question.
  3. Click the Options button (three dots) and press Report Review:
  4. Enter a detailed explanation for reporting the review. Then press submit.

From there, it’s all about playing the waiting game. The more information you provide, the better your chances of having the review removed. Good luck out there, and stay safe folks!

Join LinkNow Media in the Fight Against Fake Reviews!

LinkNow Media is one of North America’s leading digital marketing agencies. With over 10,000 clients and a vast online presence, it’s safe to say that we’ve encountered our fair share of spam, fake reviews, negative ad campaigns. But through it all, we’ve persevered and thwarted every attempt on our reputation.

If you’ve faced similar problems, we can help you too.

Join us in the fight against fake reviews. To get started, leave a comment below, email us at website@linknowmedia.com, or give us a call at 1-888-667-7186 today!

Want to Run Your Business on Leads from Yelp? Here’s how!

Yelp is one of the best tools that small businesses have for marketing and generating local leads. Whether you’re using it to manage your online reputation or for local marketing, Yelp has transformed the way businesses are run in 2019. And best of all, it’s free.

So, if you’re a small business owner looking for an easy way to generate a ton of strong leads in your local area, this article will tell you everything you need to know. Read on and let us know what you think in the comments!

1. Complete Your Yelp Profile

First things first. If you haven’t created your listing already, you need to do that now! (Better yet, finish reading this blog first, and then go complete it). But it’s vital to complete all of it. Try not to leave anything blank or unfinished. Consider it this way – Yelp is asking your business these questions directly, and if you want Yelp to like your business, it’s in your best interest to answer them. Provide plenty of detail. Which leads us to our second tip:

2. Prioritize Text Over Photos on Your Yelp Listing

Pictures have their place on Yelp, but text holds more authority. And if you want to rank in Yelp searches, you need to build authority. Show Yelp that your business is relevant to its users by “programming” your profile with the right keywords.

Yelp’s algorithm depends on words to find out what your listing and your business is about. In fact, we even recommend carefully title the images you upload, so that Yelp can use the file names to categorize your photos. In the real world, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but on Yelp, a picture certainly isn’t worth a thousand keywords.

3. Use Keywords to “Unlock” Yelp Leads

In the same way that you need keywords to rank in Google searches (and get leads from those searches), Yelp’s algorithm also works on keywords. Keywords are what your prospective clients type into search engines online. If your business listing doesn’t include them, new clients won’t be able to find you.

To find keywords that are relevant to your business, try typing a general one into the Yelp search bar. A drop-down menu will appear with other related keywords that, if they are relevant to your business, you should include in your listing to improve your rank!

 

 

However, a word to the wise: be careful not to overdo it. Your listing can get penalized for keyword-stuffing. For example, don’t write: “Our massage therapists perform massage services. If you want massage therapy, call our massage specialists at our massage spa.” Keyword-stuffing doesn’t look good to prospective clients or to Yelp.

4. Always Respond to Yelp Reviews

Never, ever, underestimate the power of reviews, particularly on Yelp. We can’t overemphasize how fantastic positive reviews are for your ranking – but it’s not only having them that counts. Encourage your clients to leave detailed reviews that accurately explain your services and why they were so good.

Plus, Yelp prioritizes businesses that are actively engaged with their customers. So, make sure to reply quickly to both good and bad reviews. Three 5-star reviews with prompt responses might be better off than fifteen 5-star comments that went ignored by the business owner. Be polite, professional, and concise. Sometimes, a well-crafted reply will even counterbalance the damage of a poor review! The bottom line is, always respond to your Yelp reviews.

5. Pat Yelp’s Back and Google Will Pat Yours

Okay, while this one isn’t exactly a Yelp strategy, it’s worth keeping in mind that in the online world, everything is interconnected. Your business listing on Yelp extends far beyond the scope of one directory. Google and Yelp have a longstanding virtual friendship and Google often ranks Yelp listings in their search results.

The old saying, “A friend of yours is a friend of mine” holds true, here. If you’re getting leads on Yelp, chances are you’re beefing up your ranking on Google at the same time. So, it’s in your best interest to make your Yelp listing as attractive as possible.

 

Want to leverage your Yelp listings to pull in even more leads? Contact the digital marketing professionals at LinkNow Media by leaving us a comment below or calling 1.888.667.7186!

Do You Need Reviews to Rank on Yelp?

These days, ranking well on Yelp is nearly as important as ranking on Google. And just like on Google, good reviews are a fast-track-pass to ranking on Yelp.

What do people have to say about you and the service you provide? Are people raving about one common thing? Do they have anything to say in the first place? The answers to these questions could have a major impact on whether your company will rank well or not.

Read on to learn how to get the kind of reviews you need to rank on Yelp!

Positive Yelp Ratings Will Improve Your Ranking

Want to pop up first when people search for a service on Yelp? The proof is in the pudding and the answer is in the reviews. The more reviews you have overall, the better it is for your ranking. So, whenever you can, casually remind your clients to leave you a Yelp review and easily reap the rewards.

Your reviews are a good reflection of your reputation. Although it’s true that it’s better to have people talking about you than not talking at all, it’s obviously best for your business to have positive ratings. This way, when customers refine their search results to show the “Highest Rated” businesses for a certain service in their area, you’ll want to be a top result.

You should encourage all your clients to write you reviews on Yelp, but especially those you’ve just wowed with exceptional service. They’re way more likely to write you a great review!

Rank Better on Yelp with SEO-Optimized Reviews

SEO, also known as search engine optimization, is an essential component to ranking on search engines and business directories on the Internet. Try to encourage your customers to insert specific keywords related to the services you provide in their Yelp reviews. Studies have shown that the frequency of relevant keywords in reviews can have a significant impact on your Yelp rankings!

For example, if you’re a roofing contractor, reviews that specifically mention roofing repair or roofing installation are what you’d be going for. It’s especially important that the keywords used, match with the business category you’ve selected on your Yelp listing. If you’re a plumber and have selected plumber as your business category, having the word plumber in many reviews is very important for Yelp!

So, what’s the best approach for getting keywords into reviews? Ask your clients to be specific and detailed about the services they received. Make sure they describe the quality and what they loved about it. Detailed reviews will almost always be filled with relevant keywords that will help your rank!

Climb the Rankings with Elite Yelper Reviews

Although Yelp’s review filter algorithm remains something of a mystery, we know that active users are much more likely to be included in the overall rating than inactive or new users. The idea is that Yelpers who leave a lot of reviews are more likely to be trusted sources. In turn, Yelp gives their reviews more weight in the overall scores.

So, if you know that a client of yours hasn’t left many reviews, ask them to leave reviews for other local businesses while they’re at it. That’ll make it a lot more likely for them to count in your overall rating and get you ranking—fast!

 

Want more tips and tricks like the ones in this article? Get in touch with us at website@linknowmedia.com to keep up to date with our posts and leave us a comment below.

How to Build a Solid Reputation Management Strategy

In the competitive world of business, reputation is everything. Starting a business is one thing, but continued success and growth are made possible through a well-planned digital marketing program. And when it comes to digital marketing, nothing is more important than reputation management.

To this end, we have compiled this list of helpful tips your enterprise can take towards building a rock-solid online reputation.

1) Maintain Your Website

In this day and age, your prospective customers will search you up long before they call you up.

The precision of the Internet ensures that they will find what they are looking for— whether it’s from you or from another business in your area and industry.

Place due consideration on the importance of your website, both for recruiting new clients and for informing existing ones. Don’t just slap on a web page and call it a day! Update it frequently so that it reflects your current products and services, changes to inventory, and general information about your business.

Consider your website as your online storefront and see to its upkeep accordingly!

2) Keep an Eye on Your Competitors

Are you ahead of the pack or trailing behind?

Your services might be superior in every way to your competition— but none of that will matter if you don’t have the web presence to back it up! Check out your competitor’s websites and social media presence. Find whether they have any advantages over you and take action!

Maybe a more modern site, higher response rate, or some lead generating reviews?

Take stock of what your competition’s doing and retool your strategy.

3) Manage Your Reviews

Word of mouth has become a whole different beast online: reviews.

If your clients are providing you with reviews online—good, bad, or otherwise, this is a huge opportunity for your business.

Seize it! Answer all the questions and address any concerns in a prompt and articulate way. Don’t just thank customers for good reviews—apologize for the bad ones and take steps towards making amends. This will prove that your business cares and makes an effort to offer top-tier customer service.

Communicate as politely and as professionally as you would in person!

4) Harness the Power of Social Media

Create Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter presences that reflect your activities and services.

For those in industries like landscaping and remodeling, visual platforms like these are the perfect places to showcase jobs well done.

Be sure to post frequently, informing your clients of specials, discounts, availabilities, and the like. Even better: create open forums of discussion where your clients can offer feedback and information.

Maintain your online reputation management, and the results will speak for themselves!

5) Hire a Digital Marketer to Manage Your Online Reputation

Here at LinkNow Media, reputation management is what we do best. Whether that’s in the form of reviews, social media, web sites, or simply being up to date on the most current resources and tools, our digital marketers are leaders in the field!

You’re busy enough managing your own business. Let us do the marketing. Contact LinkNow Media for reputation management services by calling 1.888.667.7186 or email us at website@linknowmedia.com.

How Does Yelp’s Review Filter Work?

The best way to market your business is by managing your online reputation. It’s free. It’s easy. And all you have to do is provide high-value products and services.

For anyone who’s invested time and money into their online marketing, understanding the way review algorithms filter the trustworthy from the untrustworthy is crucial. And with the ever-increasing popularity of Yelp, it’s become more important than ever to understand how their review filter works.

With that in mind, we’re here to de-mystify the whole process and help you build your online reputation. Here’s what we currently know about Yelp’s review filter.

What Is Yelp’s Review Filter?

Yelp uses a set of criteria to weed out reviews that they deem untrustworthy. Yelp does not publish any details about their criteria, so what we do know is largely based on inference and third-party research. Nonetheless, we can be reasonably sure of the accuracy of this research.

According to Yelp, their algorithm is based on three principles: “Quality, Reliability, and User Activity.” Yelp also reports that they filter out roughly 25% of all reviews, though recent evidence suggests the figure could be considerably higher.

Why Does Yelp Filter Reviews?

Like other review-aggregating platforms like Google, Yelp uses its filter to improve the quality of its review system. By hiding untrustworthy or fake reviews, Yelp helps businesses manage their online reputations in a more effective way.

Ultimately, the goal is to make Yelp more trustworthy as a review platform. If it were filled with fake reviews no one would trust it. No one would use it. That would be the end of Yelp. Yelp doesn’t want that.

How Does Yelp’s Review Filter Work?

Yelp’s review filter divides reviews into two categories:

Recommended Reviews: are reviews that contribute to the overall rating of a business. They are also the most accessible as they’re shown on each business’s Yelp profile page.

Not Currently Recommended Reviews: are reviews that have been filtered out by the algorithm. They don’t contribute to the over all rating. However, it’s still possible to view the ‘Not Currently Recommended Reviews’ by scrolling to the bottom of the profile and clicking the link that reads “other reviews that are not currently recommended”.

One of the interesting parts of Yelp’s algorithm is that it hides reviews until it deems them to be trustworthy. And vice-versa. That means there’s always the possibility of improvement over time.

Yelp looks at each user’s activity and reviewing patterns to decide whether their reviews are trustworthy or not. The following are some of those considerations:

  • Has the reviewer’s profile been created recently?
  • Has the user written any past reviews?
  • What is the quality of the user’s past reviews?
  • Does the review contain any misinformation? Or hateful or bigoted language?
  • Is there evidence that the review was solicited?

By taking account of these criteria (and, undoubtedly, much more) Yelp determines the overall relevance of each review. The best case scenario would be if all of your best customers were also active, trusted Yelp users. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

What Can I Do to Improve My Yelp Reviews?

The best course of action is to provide amazing service and amazing products every time. That way, your clients will be inclined to leave amazing reviews without being asked.

After all, Yelp does not encourage you to solicit reviews. And while you can try work around their policy to generate reviews, you may find yourself in deep water if Yelp decides to punish you for it.

Another trick is to ask your clients to be more active on Yelp. Not by leaving reviews on your business, but by leaving reviews for other businesses. It may seem counter-intuitive but it will lend more clout to their reviews and make it less likely for Yelp to filter them out. That way, the reviews that best reflect your business will have a greater chance of landing on your page.

 

Do you have a story about your Yelp reviews or a fresh perspective on Yelp’s algorithm? Leave a comment below!

And if you need a hand with managing your online reputation, get LinkNow’s local SEO team on the job!

4 Reasons Reviews Are Better for Conversions than Ads

In Part 3 of our reputation management series, we explore the idea that reviews convert better than ads.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads!

For Part 2, click here to control and improve your online reputation!

The digital age has made it easier than ever to access information and yet it often feels impossible to find the right information. With the sheer volume of marketing data that Google churns out on a second-to-second basis, it’s no wonder business owners struggle to navigate those great swaths of information to create an effective advertising strategy.

Fortunately, a safe and reliable solution exists: reviews!

While advertising is still a cornerstone of any sound marketing strategy, generating reviews is more important than ever these days. Plus, it’s an easy and cost-effective way to expand your reach without having to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on advertising. Here are four reasons why you should prioritize generating reviews over advertisements.

1. Reviews are Free Advertisements

Your reviews are a showcase of your achievements. Each one you receive advertises your services and the value you offer to your customers—free of charge. And by letting Google know of your recent activity, they help build your online footprint, improve your business’ online searchability, and generate clicks on your website.

2. Consumers Trust Reviews

82% of U.S. adults read online reviews before buying something for the first time. By and large, consumers consider reviews a trustworthy and reputable source of information. The same cannot be said for ads, which are often perceived as too biased to inform one’s decision-making process. In fact, it’s often unclear what impact—if any—a particular advertisement has on a consumers’ decisions and on a business’ conversation rates.

The way people search for information online has only further cemented this behaviour. More and more, people these days search for reviews when looking for a service. Consequently, Google tends to rank those review pages higher, which makes your business easier to find and more reputable for consumers.

3. Reviews Improve Customer Relationships

Reviews let you open a direct line of communication with your customers. By thanking customers for positive reviews, you show them that you value their support and help build a lasting relationship with them. And by addressing negative reviews, you demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and improving your business model. Reviews help you start a clear dialogue with your customers, in turn cultivating meaningful long-term relationships with them.

4. Reviews Help You Improve

Online reviews are a way for you to solicit genuine constructive feedback for your business. While not all of them will necessarily help you improve your business model, you are bound to find kernels of truth within them that do help. You’ll discover not only what you’re doing right, but also what you can work on to improve your business and make it more marketable to consumers.

Reviews will also help you reflect on the true value of your services. You’ll be able to find out what your consumers want out of your service and how to set yourself apart from your competitors. That way, you can continue to develop your marketing strategy to better reflect the needs of your customers.

Altogether, generating reviews is a reliable, safe, and cost-effective solution to generation leads and building trust with your clients. If you want further information about improving your business’ online reputation, feel free to leave a reply below!

Click here for Part 1 of our reputation management series.

Click here for Part 2 of our reputation management series.

How to Take Control and Improve Your Online Reputation

In Part 2 of our online reputation series, we give you the tools you need to take control of the conversions about your business.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads.

For Part 3, click here to find out why reviews convert better than ads.

If you are new to the world of SEO and online marketing, you might think your company’s reputation is completely out of your hands. When so many people are just typing whatever they want into their computers, how are you supposed to stop them from writing a negative review about your business? How are you supposed to persuade them to write a good review?

If there’s one thing to be learned from our line of work here at LinkNow, it’s up to you to manage your online reputation. It is determined by how you handle every situation—good or bad.

Here are a few ways you can improve your company’s online reputation.

You Received a Negative Review. Now What?

Did you wake up to discover that a customer of yours has penned a negative review about your business? Maybe your team had a bad day and underperformed with the client. Maybe there was some misunderstanding. Maybe the client’s criticisms are unfounded and simply unfair.

In these situations, you might feel attacked and scared for your business. Your gut response might be to respond heatedly and tell this customer just how wrong they are. I mean, they’re attacking your business after all. That business is your livelihood!

We’ll tell you the same thing we tell all our clients at LinkNow: Don’t respond negatively to a negative review! Don’t lose your cool. Doing so might lead to the online equivalent of a shouting match between you and a customer. Is that something you’d want people to see when they walk through your door? Probably not.

Respond Positively to Negative Reviews

Whether they’re right or not it is always in your best interest to do two things:

  1. Publicly respond to the negative review if possible
  2. Be positive and receptive to the dissatisfied client.

Let the customer know you hear their complaints, criticisms, and concerns. When customers air grievances, they might expect a lot of things in return. While you might not be able to turn back time, you can at least let them know they’ve been heard and acknowledged. Let them know that the problem will be addressed with your staff and will not happen again.

Every business gets a negative review every now and then. If you handle it professionally and graciously, customers will chalk the issue up to a misunderstanding or isolated incident.

Ask Newcomers and Regulars for Reviews

Like we said, every business is bound to get one or two negative reviews. What helps is when there are many positive reviews on your Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook pages to make those negative reviews seem less representative of your company.

If your business has been operational since before the advent of social media, asking clients for online reviews might seem kind of strange. You might be worried that you’re being pushy. Don’t be! In the age of ‘Buy Local’, people love supporting local businesses. What better way for them to show their support than to post a glowing, thoughtful, and honest review of your business?

A Reputation Built on Reviews

Before you get customer reviews, you need an online presence. For some business owners, that is especially difficult. At LinkNow Media, we’ve helped over 10,000 small business owners spread the word about their services. Once we’ve established your online presence, you’ll have the customers you need to get those important reviews!

Click here to read Part 3 of our reputation management series!

December Fake Review Attack Affects Hundreds of Small Businesses

Throughout the past months, we’ve been writing a lot about the ways that review platforms like Yelp and Google control fake reviews. Google, for example, began systematically deleting anonymous reviews last spring in an effort to make it more difficult for black hat SEOs to do negative SEO attacks.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite solve the problem. Although Google users can no longer post anonymously, they can still create fake profiles and use them to target the competition.

This is exactly what happened in early December, when small businesses across the U.S. and the world were suddenly bombarded with fake 4-star reviews.

Read on if you want to learn how to protect yourself from the next attack.

What We Know About The December Fake Review Attack

Although no one knows who was behind the fake review attack or what their endgame was, we do know a few things.

It appears that around 37 fake profiles were used to leave over 3 million 4-star Google reviews. When you divide it up, the average profile left around 81 000 ratings—in a matter of days. The small business owners affected by the attack were left confused and worried about their rank on Google.

After all, even though the reviews were all 4-star, many business owners speculated about whether they’d be punished for artificially inflating their rating.

Luckily, the sheer scale of the attack was enough to set Google in motion straight away. Within 5 days they had taken all (or nearly all) of the fake reviews offline. But even though the ratings returned to normal those affected still don’t have the answers they need.

Possible Motives For The Attack

After reviewing the affected businesses, it’s still unclear why they were targeted and not others. In many ways it appears to have been random. The only thing that connects all the victims together is that they were typically small businesses.

Many people asked why 4-star reviews were used for the attack rather than 1 or 2-star reviews. Perhaps it was an attempt to veil the attack in the hopes that Google would punish many of those businesses for inflating their ratings.

Although it’s pure speculation, there’s also the possibility that this was a kind of test operation—an attempt to work out a plan of action for another attack that would be subtler and on a larger scale. It’s hard to say exactly, but we’re happy it’s been taken care of.

It could’ve also been an attempt show that Google reviews are not so legitimate as they’d like them to appear. Vulnerabilities like the ones the attack made visible, serve to disrupt Google’s own trustworthiness­­—and the irony isn’t lost on us!

Why Is It Important To Understand Fake Reviews?

At LinkNow Media, reviews and ratings form a large part of our reputation management strategy. From the point of view of conversion, we know that most clients will check Google reviews before making a purchase.

The problem is not just related to conversion either. It’s also about trust. A lot of web traffic is the result of business listing website clicks. Business owners with untrustworthy reviews may experience sudden traffic drops simply due to clients opting for the competition.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Google establishes rankings with the trustworthiness of your online presence in mind. If you have fake reviews on Google (and elsewhere), you could find yourself running into problems with your rankings.

Conclusion

Keep track of who is reviewing your listings and what they are saying. Be vigilant. All the time. Every day.

If you notice suspicious activity, report it to Google. Take a look through SEO blogs to see if anyone’s talking about an attack. If you’re not sure about it or would like some advice, call LinkNow Media to speak with one of our SEO experts!

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