In light of a recent Yelp reviews algorithm change called Spearfish, we’ve assembled pro tips for making the best of the Yelp filtered reviews guidelines.
Yelp Filtered Reviews: The Ins and Outs
A couple of things to remember about Yelp filtered reviews:
- Yelp aims to filter reviews that weren’t written from an actual customer. There are people who try to game the system for their own gain on Yelp, whether by creating a Yelp user profile and writing fake positive reviews about their own business or posting fake negative reviews about a competing business. Yelp’s goal is to protect business reputations as much as possible and give users a real shot at picking a vendor based on authentic customer feedback.
- Reviews are never deleted – they’re either filtered or unfiltered, and they’re always accessible on a Yelp business profile. Only unfiltered reviews are used to calculate the profile’s star rating.
- Yelp’s filter aims to preserve the quality of reviews, so that people continue trusting Yelp when they’re shopping for a new service provider or product. Without this trust, Yelp’s platform means nothing to its users.
- Yelp doesn’t explicitly publicize all of its criteria for filtering reviews because it knows that if they show all of their cards, people can learn to game the system and eventually invalidate the review filter.
- Review status is fluid, meaning Yelp can bump a review that was once deemed worthy of the “unfiltered” category down to the filtered section, because Yelp no longer trusts some factor or element of that review or reviewer. Reversely, a review that was once in the filtered section can eventually be moved into the Yelp-approved review pool on a business profile.
Bottom line, Yelp wants reviews to be honest, genuine and unsolicited. It doesn’t want people to use it for deceitful purposes. So, they reconfigured things to make reviews more fair-and-square. But how do they determine which reviews needed to go, and which ones needed to now show as unfiltered?
Things That Will Likely Trigger Yelp’s Review Filter
Here’s a couple of examples where today, Yelp would deem a review unfit for the highly coveted “unfiltered” status. Stay away from these shady tactics and you’ll likely avoid being penalized.
While we admire your passion, don’t go after new reviews with these online means:
- Don’t send out an email, post a Facebook status or use other online messaging platforms to share a link to your Yelp page hoping for a new review
- Don’t ask customers to visit your website, click the Yelp badge you installed there and then go and review you
- Don’t attempt to post on public sites like Craigslist and try to buy Yelp reviews from non-clients
- Don’t pay people to review your business on Yelp
All of the above (and any other creative avenues not mentioned here) sends Yelp a signal that someone is driving people to their profile to place a review. In this digital day and age, almost all activity can be tracked back to a source; Yelp’s good at figuring out if you emailed all of your customers a sweet message and link to your Yelp page.
While it’s tempting to ask the happy customers you talk to in your shop every day to hit up your Yelp page and make it rain with good ratings, try to avoid this approach. There are review patterns, such as time and date of posting and the age of accounts reviewing you that just scream “This shop is recruiting new Yelp reviews!”
If you were Yelp and looking for red flags, wouldn’t it grab your attention if 10 new Yelp accounts were created in the same month, and then all of those accounts posted new reviews to the same business? In addition, it will look extra fishy if only a handful went to the trouble of filling out their profile info and added a picture to their user profile.
And what if none of them checked into the business on Yelp when placing their review – the testimony was written after the experience when they were no longer physically located in the business?
(Bonus points for the Yelp filtered reviews police if five of those accounts were created using the desktop version of Yelp and then the reviews were written, or if none of those accounts bothered reviewing other businesses after they were created!)
An additional problem for soliciting Yelp reviews in-person is that if that customer is a secret shopper (yes, Yelp invests in them!), then they may very well report if they’ve been asked to place a Yelp review.
So in the end, when you post a review, what device you post it from, if you’re checked in to the business when you post, and how old your account is (and consequently how many Yelp reviews of different businesses you’ve written) and more all paint a picture to Yelp of just how genuine (and unsolicited) a review may have been.
So What’s Next With Yelp Filtered Reviews?
Bottom line: if you do good work and you honor your customer’s reasonable requests, the good reviews will come. Yes, there will be the occasional “bad” review; successful businesses know that a less-than-stellar review is an invaluable glimpse into how they can fine-tune customer service and create a better experience.
If you respond to negative reviews with kindness, patience and diplomacy, people who are browsing businesses online will know you’re an authentic company that tries to fix problems and make things better. (People will even edit their reviews and add information after businesses have attempted to make things right!)
So, don’t sweat the small stuff with Yelp filtered reviews. If you’re providing great customer service, it will show in your review mix and potential customers will take notice. Word-of-mouth, online or in-person, is still a reliable best friend.