Yelp & Communications Decency Act

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

If you are a small business owner and your customers are consumers, I would get savvy with Section 230. Tested in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Yelp can raise or lower the rating of your business depending on whether you advertise with them or not.

Now I know a lot of our followers have this love and hate relationship with Yelp but really come on! Yelp has the power to control small businesses depending if you spend money with them!

This sounds like the new age way of extortion. Unfortunately under the current definitions of extortion our legal system doesn't see it that way.

Which is very interesting because this sort of this is actually very common. Technology advances faster than our legal system can keep up with. Currently there is lobbying taking place on the hill to reform the Communications Decency Act.

Well that's great and all but what do I do now! Businesses are suffering right now! The reality is we have to fight fire with fire. Check out our review collection page, Yelp has met there maker.

How To Keep Your Customer Reviews Out Of The Yelp Filter

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.