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Dealing With the Yelp Review Filter

Posted On: March 13, 2012

Here at Ring Ring Marketing, we’re big fans of the Yelp Review Filter. That’s because we work with legitimate, high-quality businesses and service providers. Our goal is to help the best businesses rise to the top of search engines and get more customers calling.

If you’re not familiar with Yelp Review Filter, here’s what it does. Yelp, of course, is a service that allows users to review local businesses. Users can rate a business from five stars (excellent) to one star (poor) and leave comments about their experiences. It’s a great way for businesses that are doing a great job to get the recognition they deserve.

Unfortunately, some unethical businesses try to “game the system” by putting up reviews they wrote themselves of their own business (Five stars! They’re incredible!) and of their competitors (One star! They’re horrible!). That’s why Yelp introduced the Review Filter.

First, a quick story: One of our colleagues is a freelance writer, and he works for a company that reviews self-published books. He was assigned to review a mystery novel, and only a few pages in, he realized the novel was simply atrocious. How could this be? The book had 13 reviews on Amazon.com, with 10 reviewers giving the book five stars (out of five) and three giving it four stars.

A brief bit of research explained the rave reviews. They were all from users who had reviewed only one thing ever on Amazon: that novel. It’s one of the most obvious signs of a phony review, and it’s one of the main things the Yelp Review Filter sniffs out. It’s designed to catch reviews that are likely not legitimate, using a variety of algorithms.

Are there ways to use “black hat” methods to get around the filter and get away with reviewing your own business? Sure, and some businesses try this. However, it’s a terrible idea. Yelp is constantly improving its filter, and it likely will catch these con artists in time. Also, people who visit Yelp pages are savvy: If a business is generally getting two or three stars from most readers, and suddenly there are several five-star reviews that sound similar, they know something smells bad. They’ll immediately question the ethics of the business if it looks like it’s running a scam.

If you have a great business that’s legitimately getting rave reviews on Yelp, though, you don’t want those reviews getting caught by the filter. Your email’s spam filter occasionally snags a real email, and this happens with Yelp too.

If you’re seeing legitimate reviews getting caught in the filter, reach out to the poster. Tell the poster that his or her hard work has been for naught. Usually the problem is that the poster hasn’t sufficiently filled out a profile or has reviewed too few businesses. Vote on the review or compliment it. These methods will improve the likelihood of getting the review cleared for your site.

Ring Ring Marketing can help you get appropriately positive reviews for your great service and ensure those reviews are staying out of the Yelp filter.

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