LinkNow Media | Customer Reviews

The Web is Waiting For You

Tag: Yelp

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.

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 Consumers Use Reviews Online

boat

When you’re searching online to find the perfect restaurant to try out on Friday night, the last place you’ll choose is one with zero online presence. In the information age that is exactly what people are looking for: information. They want to see photos, other customer’s opinions, and maybe even a virtual tour if you have a physical storefront. These days, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, with 94% saying they’ll use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a five to nine percent increase in revenue, with just one negative review costing you 30 customers. Reviews are the best way to hold a business accountable. Consumers look for reliability, expertise and professionalism, and if you cannot practice these they’ll let you know.

So, if negative reviews are so dangerous, why collect reviews at all? Well, a couple negative reviews are better than no reviews at all, so long as you’ve got some positive ones going on as well. When negative reviews occur, respond quickly, admit to any errors, reiterate your company’s mission and if possible and warranted, provide compensation.

When a consumer looks at or leaves reviews online, they’re looking to:

Find the best business for their needs

Build trust

Express themselves

Help other consumers

Here are some more numbers to help you understand the benefits of reviews:

92% of consumers read online reviews

68% say positive reviews make them trust a business more

Only14% of consumers will use a business with a one- or two-star rating, whereas 94% would use one with a five-star rating

80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

Online reviews are probably the most important tool for a modern business. You can gain them with skill by requesting them from loyal customers and publicly thanking positive reviewers while apologizing to those who had a bad experience.

A business with active reviews on websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare will get a boost in SEO making their online presence skyrocket and produce tangible results in the form of an 18% uplift in sales.

Now more than ever, consumers want to see that business’ are run by real people, not robots. By interacting through reviews, you are showing that you care enough about your customers to take a moment out of your day to leave a personalized response to their opinion, and being able to do that is massively beneficial to any business. The last thing the 2017 consumer wants is to deal with a business that is unreachable.

Reviews impact search ranking, too. In 2014 Google updated its search engine to take into consideration the reviews from popular sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. So, if you’re actively getting your customers to leave reviews for your business, you’ll get more business, guaranteed. This sets off a chain reaction to in turn produce more reviews and more new customers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and interact with customers. It’s the only way your business is going to grow and survive. Give the gift of communication, and your consumers will most definitely give back!

How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

Is Asking for Yelp Reviews Hurting Your Small Business?

waffleIt’s a fair assumption to make that anyone who owns a business knows a thing or two about the importance of having a good rating on Yelp. Positive reviews from satisfied customers are enough to win over someone who has no idea where to go for breakfast, a haircut, or an oil change. It comes as no surprise then that many business owners urge happy customers to go to Yelp to share their experience. After all, the more people writing positive reviews, the higher the rating, right? This might not be the case. Yelp themselves discourages business owners from asking for reviews because asking people for reviews creates a bias. Because really, would you encourage an unhappy customer to write a review?

Whether you agree with their point or not, reviews that have been strong armed are likely to be flagged by Yelp’s recommendation software. So, here are alternative ways that you can get happy customers to write a review about your business.

Add a Review Badge

The last thing you want is to offer discounts or freebies as incentive for customers to write reviews. Not only does this run the risk of being flagged, it’s bribery. Let others know you’re on Yelp by using a review badge. Once your business page is set up, you’ll notice that you’ll have the option of adding a Review Badge to your website. This is a great way to drive traffic to your Yelp page from your website.

Choose Your Words Wisely

We’ve all been there – a waiter asks how everything was, and you respond by saying it was good, even when it wasn’t. Or a hairdresser asks if you like your new haircut, and you say yes, but it’s the worst haircut you’ve ever received. The point here is that unless someone is throwing you flowers, there is no way of knowing if someone had a pleasant experience or is just being polite. Only when someone is over the moon about your service or product should you drop a hint to leave an online review.

Share Reviews

Even if someone doesn’t write Yelp reviews, they rely on Yelpers to get a better idea about where to spend their time and money. So, throw them a bone. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em. Don’t be shy to share Yelp reviews on other social media platforms, like Facebook. You also have the option of posting all your reviews by changing the settings in your Yelp account. All you need to do is check the “connect to Facebook” option under the “External Services Settings.” This will prompt you to allow Yelp access to your business Facebook account. If you choose to display all your Yelp reviews on your Facebook wall, be sure that you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. You can brush up on appropriate ways of responding to negative reviews by clicking here.

Add the Yelp Icon to Your Signature

If you are like most businesses these days, you communicate with clients via email, whether for business updates or sending out campaigns. The average person is not going to your business or enlisting your services with the end-goal of writing a Yelp review, so they might need a nudge to follow through on doing so. A small Yelp icon in your signature is like a call to action.

Provide Exceptional Service

The single best way to get positive reviews on Yelp is by providing your customers with excellent service. This might sound obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of good old fashioned customer service when your main focus is getting a 5 star-rating on Yelp. This could cause you to be overly enthusiastic, or worse bothersome. Give your customers a delightful, stress-free experience and positive reviews will come rolling in.

 

Is Yelp Hurting Your Business?

chipsYelp is a social network that allows users to rate and review businesses. For over a decade, consumers have considered this local directory-style site a helpful source for finding new restaurants, stores, hairdressers, mechanics, and more. For some business owners, however, Yelp is anything but helpful. Many have accused Yelp for favoring businesses that have paid for advertisements and punishing those who have not.

Does Yelp Pick Favorites?

Yelp uses an algorithm to filter reviews as an effort to red flag reviews that appear to be fraudulent and to display reviews that appear to be relevant and trustworthy. According to Yelp, their software looks at a variety of signals to measure quality, readability, and legitimacy. They deny any alleged claims accusing them of  having any bias.

As far as the filtering goes, however, the algorithm seems to more lenient with negative reviews, hiding positive reviews under the not recommended section at the bottom of the page, many of which, are often from legitimate, satisfied customers. This is where small business owners grow frustrated.

You Should Be On Yelp!

If someone is searching for good, cheap tacos, they’re likely heading to Yelp. If someone is looking for a laundry delivery service, they’re heading to Yelp. If someone is curious about a new clothing boutique, they’re heading to Yelp. It isn’t hard to see – scrolling through reviews on Yelp is usually someone’s first step in the buying process.

Despite the ambiguity that surrounds Yelp’s filtering algorithm, it’s in your best interest to create a profile. If consumers aren’t going directly to the site, they are using the Yelp app, and if they aren’t using the app, they’re going there from a Google search. Yelp typically shows up on the first page of Google for searches related to the company name or service, so it is extremely helpful in building your web presence.

What About Negative Reviews?

In a perfect world, you’d only get words of praise. The fact of the matter is that you’ll get a handful of bad reviews. Where these are displayed is out of your control, but responding to them is in your control, and that is something you should do.

At LinkNow Media, we’ve pointed at the importance of responding to negative reviews  in the past, and the same points can be applied to addressing an unsatisfied customer on Yelp. Acknowledge what the customer is saying, offer a sincere apology, and find a solution to their specific problem. A negative comment is always an opportunity to show how far you will go to satisfy a customer.

That’s not all. You can incorporate them into your business operations. You know what they say: you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Look at Yelpers as a free improvement squad there to point out what’s working and what isn’t.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that that Yelp reviews play a very important factor in how consumers make decisions. How Yelp’s filtering algorithm will evolve in the coming years is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain, though – people are generally good at spotting fake and authentic reviews. The more scrutiny that is placed on Yelp’s software, the more likely people are to check out hidden reviews.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén