As a business owner, you know the value of online reviews: they improve customer trust and confidence in your business, increase conversion rates, and improve the ranking of your website.
One of the best places to get online reviews is on Yelp. With more than 100 million unique monthly visitors, Yelp is one of the top and most influential business review sites, and it would be absurd not to have your reviews there.
Unfortunately, Yelp has a filtering system that filters good and legitimate reviews into the “not recommended” section.
As a result, potential customers arriving at your Yelp page can’t see the positive reviews.
What is Yelp filter, and why should you care?
To understand Yelp filters, we need to understand how Yelp works. Yelp trusts consumers (Yelpers) to leave authentic reviews about their experience with a service.
To protect businesses, the platform has an automated filtering system that hides or removes reviews it feels are fake or illegitimate.
Since the system is automated, sometimes even authentic reviews get filtered, and this is where a problem comes about.
When you have your positive Yelp reviews hidden, your business suffers. With over 79% of consumers basing their buying decision on online reviews, your business trust and revenue can take a serious hit.
Why does Yelp filter good reviews?
Yelp can filter good reviews due to plenty of reasons. The most common ones being:
- The Yelper used inappropriate language.
- The review is overly positive or negative.
- The review is too short to be of value to other readers.
- The review was written by a new user with no profile information.
- Yelp doesn’t trust the IP address the review came from
- You received too many reviews at once
- The reviewer is posting the same thing.
- The review violates Yelp’s guidelines
Reason #1: The Yelper used inappropriate language
It’s normal for someone to be irked by a service that they let loose and use colorful language in their reviews. While Yelp has some allowances, it might filter out a review if they feel a Yelper went overboard.
Also, most people don’t take curses seriously, so a review with too many curses might not be of value to most people triggering the filters to hide it.
Reason #2: The review is overly positive or negative
According to Yelp, it’s rare for people to be extremely impressed or unimpressed with a business, so when a review comes off as too positive or negative, the filters consider it fake and hide it.
In most cases, overly positive reviews are left by family members or close friends that are too proud of you.
It can be frustrating getting a review raving about your services, then it gets hidden so none of your prospective customers can see it. To alleviate the chances of your positive reviews getting hidden, don’t ask your family or close friends to leave a review.
Remember, Yelp filters can sniff out the bias from a mile away.
Reason #3: The review is too short to be of value to other readers
Reviews are meant to help customers make informed decisions, so when your review is too short, Yelp feels the review doesn’t provide enough information to help the reader, so it hides it.
For example, a review that says, “Don’t go here” doesn’t provide enough information about why you shouldn’t go there. To Yelp and other readers, the review might come off as a way to bash business.
To avoid your reviews getting flagged as inappropriate, encourage your customers to leave detailed reviews. Most customers don’t know they need to give enough information, so it’s wise to include a short note on your website advising them to do it.
Reason #4: The review was written by a new user with no profile information
The main reason Yelp developed and implemented the automated filter is to ensure only the most honest and helpful feedback is displayed.
Sometimes reviews left by new users with little to no profile information can be hidden as the Yelp’s automated filter feels like the new account is a bot or fake account.
Even as a human being, what happens when you see a profile without a photo or posts? You think its fake, right? It’s the same case with Yelp.
Thankfully, you can work around this problem by legitimizing the reviews by adding the reviewer as a friend. You can also vote the review as “cool” or “helpful.”
When you have some engagement with the review, you give Yelp the impression a reviewer is a real person, so they are less likely to hide the review.
Reason #5: Yelp doesn’t trust the IP address the review came from
The IP address is like your home address, but on the internet and it lets computers and apps know where your device is located.
If your customers are using an IP associated with a lot of reviews, Yelp might view it as a source of bot farms and fake reviews, and when a customer leaves a review from the IP, it’s flagged as inappropriate.
Yelp can also distrust IP addresses that are too far from your business. For example, when you get dozens of positive reviews from reviewers a continent away, Yelp will know something is off and filter the reviews.
Reason #6: You received too many reviews at once
When your business receives too many reviews at once, it might come across you paid for the reviews or your competitor paid to bombard you.
Either way, too many reviews will trigger the spam detection algorithms and filter out the reviews that are part of the wave.
Reason #7: The reviewer is posting the same thing
When a user uses the same words to review different businesses, Yelp will have the impression the reviews are being left by a bot, which increases the chances of the review getting flagged as fake.
Reason #8: The review violates Yelp’s guidelines
Like on any other platform, a review that violates Yelp’s guidelines will be filtered out. A review will be removed if it falls under this category:
Inappropriate content: As mentioned above, if a reviewer uses colorful language, the review is likely to be filtered out, and it won’t show on your page. The same thing happens when you use graphic details.
Promotional content: This happens when you promote your business on the competitor’s reviews in the bid to woe their customers.
Demanding money: Other people will try to extract money from a business using a review as a threat. While this is not allowed and the review will be filtered out, a customer might be excused if they are asking for a refund following an awful service.
Conflict of interest: Your reviews will be flagged due to conflict of interest when you ask your friends or family to write reviews. As mentioned above, Yelp can smell it from afar. Also, you will be violating the policy that stipulates you should not be directly asking for Yelp reviews.
Lack of relevance: Some customers won’t have a problem with the services you provide but will have an issue with your business employment practices or political ideologies. And they might write a review addressing them.
Reviews that aren’t related to the customer experience are considered irrelevant and will be hidden from your page.
Plagiarism: Copying and pasting is not only disallowed in academic circles, Yelp also doesn’t like it. When customers copy and paste other customers’ reviews, they are most likely to be hidden even if they reflect the true feelings of the reviewer.
How can you work around the Yelp filter?
Although you don’t have control over what Yelp filters, you can do several things to increase the chances of the reviews going through. Some of the things you can do include:
- Don’t ask customers to write a review while they are at your business.
- Don’t provide your customers with a direct link from your website.
- Refrain from asking friends and family to leave a review
- Don’t pay people for reviews
- Guide your customers on how to leave a high-quality review
Method #1: Don’t ask customers to write a review.
Some business owners ask their customers to write a review while they are in their store. This is wrong. Remember, Yelp can easily determine your customer’s physical location, so when the customer submits a review while they are on your premises,
Yelp can easily tell where the review is coming from, and it’s more likely to flag that review.
An excellent way to go around this is to send the customers a follow-up email a few days after. Ask them about their experience and to leave a review if they liked the service you provided.
Method #2: Don’t provide your customers with a direct link from your website.
Like it can tell the customer’s location, Yelp can also tell the domain a customer used to get to the review site. If the customers used the same domain they are reviewing, Yelp algorithms are more likely to be triggered and filter the review.
Instead of giving a direct link, ask your customers to visit the Yelp website, look up your business, and leave a review.
Method #3: Refrain from asking friends and family to leave a review
As mentioned above, friends and close friends are usually proud of your business, so they are more likely to leave a review that is too positive, triggering the filters.
Method #4: Don’t pay people for reviews.
Yelp wants legitimate third party reviews, and it can tell whether they are fake or paid. A telltale sign you paid for the reviews is someone creating an account, leaving one review (for your business), then never logging in again.
If you have a lot of these reviews, most of them won’t make through the filters.
To have many positive reviews that will stand the test of time, ask genuine customers to give their input.
Method #5: Ask established Yelpers to review your business.
Yelp’s algorithm doesn’t like reviews from new users, so there is no guarantee a review published by a user with a new profile will be visible for your potential customers to see.
So, how can you get positive reviews that stick?
Begin with researching the local Yelpers with an established history of posting reviews and have earned some credibility. When you find them, invite them to try out your service and give their honest review.
Remember, you shouldn’t give them an incentive or freebie as it’s against Yelp’s policies.
Method #6: Guide your customers on how to leave a high-quality review
Customers will leave reviews on two occasions: when you blow them away with your stellar service and when the service is exceptionally horrible that they feel they need to share the experience with the world.
To prevent the customers from writing one-word reviews such as “Great services” and others, guide them on how to leave high-quality reviews that Yelp will find of value to other readers.
Encourage the customers to speak freely about your service and give their honest opinion. This not only ensures the reviews ring true, it also shows the customers you are interested to hear their real opinions. Not to mention, the reviews are more likely to pass through the filters and show up when potential customers search your business.
Over to you
It’s no secret Yelp is an amazing online review platform that can significantly build your online reputation and refer high-quality customers.
To continue improving your Yelp presence, consistently update your company information. When you move, add the new location, give the new contact details, and list new/different services.
Customers are more likely to leave a review if they feel you will see it so regularly respond to reviews. Even if you don’t have much to say, simply thank them for the effort.
To prevent valuable positive reviews from getting filtered out, play by the rules. Don’t solicit for reviews, don’t ask your friends and friends to leave reviews, and of course don’t leave reviews for yourself.
When you do this, you will always have high-quality reviews on Yelp…regardless of the filter.