In case you’ve been living under a rock, Yelp has taken steps to filter out reviews that it feels are illegitimate or too strongly biased.
So, you have a bunch of satisfied customers and that alone is great! You may be thinking that your customer service is second to none since you rarely ever have a customer complaint, so it really shouldn’t be too hard to get some great Yelp reviews, right? That may be true, but what if your customers’ digital voices were stifled, never to be heard, their posts sent to the dreaded “Not Recommended” section on Yelp? What good will those do you?
When Yelp feels that a review is SPAM, it flings that post into the recesses of the website known as the “Not Recommended” section. At any given time, about 25% of all posts are listed as such and filtered out of the aggregate score for the business. As many businesses are finding out, both negative and positive reviews by customers often get caught. Many even argue that more positive reviews get caught in the filter than negative.
So what’s a business owner to do? There are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the chances that this happens to any of the customer reviews on your listing.
How To Get The Job Done
Encourage your customers to fill out their profiles.
When reviews are posted by profiles that are not filled out entirely and missing pictures, it sends a red flag to Yelp that the profile in question may not be legitimate. People often create fake profiles that they use to create positive reviews for their own companies while simultaneously attempting to sabotage the online reputation of their competitors.
Don’t ask a person to leave positive reviews, that’s solicitation and may be deemed “positive review fraud”. Yelp actually frowns upon this. And definitely don’t bribe your customers into leaving shining reviews on your Yelp page. That’s a definite rule breaker. Besides scrutinizing for the unethical behavior of some businesses, the platform tends to filter reviews that are too negatively or positively slanted, which indicate positive and negative review fraud may be taking place. You should still encourage your customers to leave reviews in general, and to remember to fill out their Yelp profiles fully.
Add the reviewer as a friend.
Yelp gives some preference to the reviews of people who are friends of the business. Yelp likes to know that the reviewer has actually been to that location and has been an actual customer. Adding the person as a friend helps to legitimize the relationship in the eyes of the platform.
Ask your customers to add your friends as friends.
If you’ve got other companies that you have favorable relationships with and have as friends on Yelp, ask your customers to add them too. The more friends a Yelp reviewer has, the more credible the reviewer looks to Yelp, making it less likely that a post by that user will be caught in the filter. It’s also a great way to build some good will between you and those other businesses you’ve just given free lip service to.
Vote the review as useful, cool or funny.
Yelp will also give more weight to those reviews that you’ve voted as funny or helpful. When you do that, you also encourage other people to do the same, thus giving the review even more credibility and engagement.
Compliment the reviewer.
Again, here is another example of showing a legitimate relationship between your business and the reviewer. It’s also a great way to build two way communications between you and your customers and build your online community, all the while managing your online reputation.
Building a Yelp profile and collecting reviews is a great way to build your brand online with the help of satisfied patrons. As many a business has found out, sometimes even the most customer friendly companies need a little bit of help making sure those satisfied voices are heard. By following the above tips, you’ll be helping to ensure that no positive review goes unseen and no happy customer goes unheard.
Industry Specific Review SitesConsumers today frequently visit industry-specific websites where they can read reviews about particular products or services. For example, travelers who are searching for a hotel may visit TripAdvisor.com, while a car accident victim may use Avvo.com to find a local attorney. You should find the sites that are specific to your niche and make sure to optimize the profile and engage users. We will be posting specific industry related review sites in the future, be sure to check back or sign up for our newsletter. Did You Know….. Did you know that customer satisfaction ratings featured on your website can actually be displayed as star-ratings on the SERPs? When coded with “review schema”, which is a markup code that helps search engines understand the content on your site, your website may stand out more.
Tips For Managing Your Reputation OnlineIf your business plans on using review sites to help bring in new customers, then be sure that you keep the following tips in mind in order to maximize the results: 1). Engage with people that leave reviews. Get in the habit of letting them know that you value and appreciate their honest opinions even if you don’t share them. Answer as many reviews as possible, good or bad, and it will go a long way with your customers. 2). Don’t panic if there are some reviews posted which are less than stellar. No company is perfect, and no one expects them to be. Instead, use any criticism as a learning tool for improving your business and when possible follow up and see if you can address the problem. Studies have proven customers are more satisfied with a company in which there was a small issue and the issue was resolved, compared to if there was never one in the first place. 3). Never write fake reviews. Most of these platforms have created sophisticated algorithms that are designed to catch review fraud. That being said, it is simply not worth the risk of being banned, and could severely damage your reputation in the eyes of users if you’re caught. Don’t forget, there are legal problems that could arise through the abuse of review sites. 4). Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to review your business. Studies have shown that many customers would be happy to, if reminded.