Online reviews are arguably the most important element of a digital marketing campaign. After all, no matter how good your promotion is potential customers are going to be turned off if they see a bunch of mediocre or low-quality reviews for your business. The key is not only to ensure that you’re getting positive reviews, but that potential customers can see them.
You might imagine that all of your reviews are visible, but it’s not that simple. If it were, spammers would easily exploit the system to ensure that their business has overwhelmingly positive reviews so that they could bring in more customers. Yelp is far smarter than this, and therefore they hide reviews, both positive and negative to try and show the most realistic and balanced opinion of a company.
Why Do Your Yelp Reviews Disappear?
You might find that one day you have a new positive review appear and the next it’s gone. What on earth happened? Most likely, Yelp filtered out the review and chose not to show it because they didn’t believe that it is helpful to other readers or the review didn’t offer a fair portrayal of the business.
Yelp doesn’t do this for any obvious malicious reason; they simply want to offer the best experience to customers looking for a company to do business with. They realize that a short review saying the business is great or a long hateful reply by an individual who has never used the platform before are not helpful at all.
This filtering is done automatically by the Yelp system, and it ensures that while Yelp is not a complete representation of all of the reviews ever left for a business, it’s a fair and useful overview that can help customers to make a purchasing decision.
How Yelp Filters Reviews
Nobody other than the Yelp software programmers know precisely how their algorithm works, but their PR team has released a few informative videos, and we can infer based on the results that we see. According to a short video from Yelp itself, “every Yelp review is automatically evaluated by Yelp’s recommendation software based on quality, reliability and user activity.”
They go on to say that “more often than not, those helpful reviews come from active members of the Yelp community” which gives us a useful insight into how they are filtering reviews. They are using some metric to gauge quality and reliability, as well as considering how active a member is.
Which makes sense because a user who has never reviewed a business before is unlikely to be as reliable as one who cares enough to review every company they work with. Similarly, it’s fair to assume that they use factors like the spelling, grammar, and length of a review to gauge its quality and trustworthiness.
After all, a customer who cusses and writes with grammatical mistakes and leaves only a few words might have a fair point, but more often than not they are probably just an angry customer who doesn’t give a fair portrayal of the business.
Knowing how Yelp filters these reviews is incredibly important because it also tells you in the same breath how you can ensure that reviews will stick. Those which you find are disappearing are being filtered automatically by the filter either because Yelp believes they are low quality, not reliable or come from users with low activity and are therefore hard to trust.
How to Get Yelp Reviews to Stick
To get Yelp review to stick they need to pass through this filter and for that to happen they must look like real reviews from experienced reviewers who care. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, genuine customers of yours are likely to leave short and unhelpful reviews because they don’t care about your business in the same way that you do and therefore they might get filtered out. To prevent this, there are a few steps that a reviewer can take:
Connect to Social Media
One of the easiest ways for Yelp to tell if a review is genuine or not is to see if the account leaving the review is connected to a social media profile like Facebook or Twitter. Spammers who create hundreds of Yelp accounts are highly unlikely to bother to create separate social media profiles for each, and therefore this is a very simple way to tell if reviews are fake or not.
Connecting a Yelp account to Facebook or Twitter is simple and can be done by going to Account Settings > External Applications and then clicking to connect to either. This adds extra authenticity to a profile and vastly increases the chances of the reviews sticking to the page.
Build Out Your Profile
On all websites including Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, it’s incredibly easy to filter out spammers because most are by definition lazy. Very few will bother to fill out their profiles fully by adding photos, adding friends and completing their interest and location boxes. Realistically, who’s more likely to be a spammer:
- The account with a profile picture, twenty friends, and a complete profile.
- The account with no picture, zero friends, and no extra information.
Probably the latter and Yelp agrees, which is why they frequently filter out reviews from new accounts that aren’t built out, especially if the reviews are short and uninformative and might be marketing from the company.
Use the Mobile App
Similar to the idea of a built out profile, most spammers are going to use the same computer to create and use Yelp. On the other hand, realistic Yelp users are much more likely to be the ones who leave reviews on their mobile phone, often while they are still in the restaurant or business premises.
Again, if you want a profile to look more authentic and therefore to get your reviews to stick more frequently, you need to look like a real user. Part of looking like other real reviewers is to do what they do, including leaving reviews from your mobile close to the location where the business is registered.
It’s impossible to know for sure, but it’s fair to assume that Yelp uses the location of your mobile and compares it to the businesses coordinates to check the possibility of you using a company. After all, leaving a review for a business in Los Angeles from Tokyo might be real, but it’s more likely to be fake than most.
Review Other Businesses
Perhaps more importantly than any other factor, the reviews which are the most likely to be filtered out are from that account which only has a single review. If a person only reviews your person and no others, Yelp is fairly going to assume that it’s the business owner or a friend leaving a review to bump up their rating.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, and frequently you will see that business shows reviews from a fresh account. However, these reviews are usually fair, extremely detailed and long. Remember, each of these factors is used in conjunction to come up with an overall picture rather than using them separately in a vacuum.
To have the best chance of the reviews getting through the filter the Yelp profile should be built out, they should review multiple businesses like a construction business they used, from mobile and desktop, and they should leave quality and detailed reviews. To put it simply, accounts which have the lowest chance of leaving fake or hurtful reviews are the ones whose comments are going to get through the filter time after time without any issues.