Is Yelp Forcing SBO’s to Advertise with Them?

Guna Nadar

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Today, there are so many allegations on Yelp. Are they true? Let's Find Out

When it started in 2004, Yelp was heralded as a primary example of the democratizing power of the internet.  But today, it seems to be stuck in its own web as several complaints of bullying and extortion against Yelp continue to pile up before the FTC. So is there truth behind these allegations? Read further to know more;

Yelp’s Rise to Superstardom:
Yelp

It is undoubtedly one of the most important sites for small business owners (besides Google, of course!) Latest statistics released by Yelp shows that the social review site recorded 100 million unique visitorsDon’t believe the hype? Try typing the name of some service oriented business from your locality on Google. There is a high chance that this company’s business listing on Yelp is ranked even before its own website!

The Rating System:

Yelp’s mainstay is its ‘5 Star Rating System’. Reviewers get to rate their local service providers.  The Company says this rating system is near perfect and designed to keep spammers/fake reviews out. Nobody, not even the reviewers know how the system works. When a Yelper writes a review, it is this system that determines if it shall stay on the site or not.  (If you are wondering how Yelp works, check out this video

There’s also the Filtered Reviews section that has gained notoriety among SBO’s. The site’s FAQ page says that filtered reviews are those that ‘don’t make the cut’… in short, those that they considered spam or bogus. The problem here is that for some SBO’s an overwhelmingly large number of filtered reviews are the ones that have 5 star ratings. Considering the fact that Yelp’s reviews mean a lot to businesses, it doesn’t seem impossible that some people would write fake/paid reviews or bribe customers to write a good review.

 But if an increasing numbers of people are complaining that Yelp’s doing it on purpose, there could be some truth to these claims, isn’t it?

Consider the following examples;

This article on LA Times shows how a Venice based tutoring firm was slapped with a one star review, even though there were several positive reviews from other customers that didn’t get past the filter.

Here’s another article that describes how another CA based construction company had to be content with a single star rating, while the  several positive five star ratings were pushed down the filtered reviews section. And to rub salt on its wound, the said rating came up every time the company’s name was searched on Google. (Psst….  Looks like this article managed to change things, or probably the owner decided to advertise with Yelp, because the last time I checked,   these were the results

The comment section on this article mentions how a reviewer’s (Mark Worthen) positive/non-negative reviews were removed on Yelp.

There are several other stories similar to these. All you have to do is to type ‘Yelp’s filtered reviews, and there follows a barrage of such complaints. There certainly could be truth to at least some of these, if not all!  And almost all of them have said that salespeople at Yelp have promised to magically open the filtered review gates in return for some advertisement revenue.

Arm twister or not, there’s certainly merit to complaints that businesses are hurt because of the dreaded Automated Filter feature. So how does one go past them? Here’s how;

Pay attention to your customers: Customer service is a very important factor. But don’t react to every negative comment on Yelp. Whether you like it or not, the internet has given a lot of power to faceless trolls who can be very very…very mean. When you react aggressively to every little review, you are only making them more aggressive. Sometimes, it pays to be thick skinned. Ignore these reviewers, if you’ve tried and failed to make sense with them.

• Claim your Yelp page: Irrespective of the fact that you claim your business listing or not, people are going to review your company. Most businesses are so wary of reviews that they try the escape route and prefer not to claim their own page. But why should you allow rivals/disgruntled customers make unwarranted claims about your company? Claim your business listing; complete the profile with detailed information about working hours, website address, photos, coupons, SEO friendly keywords, etc. This also helps Google to pull your Yelp profile page (instead of the unauthentic page) when users search for your company.

• Play by the rules: There have been lawsuits that claim Yelp has tried to extort them to advertise on Yelp, but all of these have been dismissed. Sales people are unlikely to be able to influence reviews, but Yelpers, especially those that belong to the influential ‘Yelp Elite’ club could threaten to ruin your business. Rather than buying reviews from them, it is better to advertise your business with Yelp.

Whether you like it or not, crowd sourcing is here to stay. People especially those who’re starved of time are going to rely on social review sites like Yelp. The sooner you accept them, the better you shall be to tackle them.

 

Category :

SEO News

Tags :

Yelp, Yelp review, Yelp rating, Yelp business listing, Yelp for business owners

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info


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