The Real Deal With Yelp Reviews and the Filter

Mike Wilton

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Joined
Sep 24, 2012
Messages
53
Yelp's review filter...we all loathe it, but I'm curious to know what everyone's experience is with getting reviews out of the filter. A lot of our clients get pitched daily about companies that can allegedly help them remove their filtered four and five star reviews from Yelp's filter, but whats the success rate in this and what's everyone else experienced with this?

I heard in the past about a scheme where companies create a bunch of accounts, friend them with one another and leave reviews and then friend people who left positive feedback that was filtered by Yelp and mark the filtered review as useful to get it out out Yelp's filter.

None of it seems legit, but it seems like daily someone new pops up and swears there are ways around it. What's your take? Anyone do a lot with this and have any insight?
 

Phil Rozek

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Jul 26, 2012
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Neat topic, Mike. I’ve never tried to dig reviews out of the filter, so I’m not in much of a position to say what works and what doesn’t. But my experience so far and my gut tell me that (1) it would be extremely difficult to do, (2) probably temporary, and (3) not worth the effort.

My two cents is that it’s best just to avoid the filter to begin with. Not news to you, and easier said than done, I know. But the big thing is to ask customers/clients/patients “Do you ever write reviews on Yelp” beforehand, because the Yelp is so stacked against first-time reviewers. So if you just try to identify the active Yelpers first, before asking anyone to go to Yelp, I think that’s all you can do in terms of Yelp. Everyone else should post a review on another site.

A bit of a side-note here, but I thought the “be sure to check out our filtered reviews” messages on this page were clever and appropriate:

Sidewalk Branding Company - Rumford, RI
 
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Mike Wilton

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Sep 24, 2012
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53
Good find Linda! Funny enough I came across this post from David Mihm last night that goes into a much deeper discussion of filters as a whole. The Place of Review Filters in Local Search | SEOmoz

I was just wondering if anyone had first hand experience with the rumors of being able to a) circumvent the filter or better yet if there was any truth to the stories of paying for ads and having the ability to request bad reviews be removed.

We had a client go through the entire process to see if by chance they could get some negative reviews removed once they signed up for advertising, but alas the answer was no. Funny enough we still get a TON of people saying you can.

Hopefully someone will stop by the forum that has some more insight. Perhaps because of the nature of it though, nobody will disclose what they know.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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14,441
OMG Mike you are SOOOO psychic. Right this second. I mean RIGHT NOW....
I just was playing catch up and found that post. Started writing a post about it. Changed mind deciding I didn't have time. Deleted it. Checked recent posts and here is your link. This was the perfect place to add it too. Right on topic!

THANKS!
 

Chris Sheehy

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Mar 26, 2013
Messages
3
Hey - thanks for catching that Phil! I can't say that it has increase the read-rate of my filtered reviews, but the statement makes me feel better.
 

jonkeel

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Jul 29, 2012
Messages
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A tag on piece to Mike's previous posts.

We've just had our 4th or 5th client experience what we call the Yelp factor. They have positive reviews showing, then they disappear, and then they get the phone call from the Yelp salesperson offering them the advertising package at $400 per month. Plus, a number of negative reviews begin to appear.

Any others out there who might be able to offer words of consolation?
 

Phil Rozek

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Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,522
A tag on piece to Mike's previous posts.

We've just had our 4th or 5th client experience what we call the Yelp factor. They have positive reviews showing, then they disappear, and then they get the phone call from the Yelp salesperson offering them the advertising package at $400 per month. Plus, a number of negative reviews begin to appear.

Any others out there who might be able to offer words of consolation?
No words of consolation, Jon, but I do have some suggestions here:

The Afterlives of Filtered Google+ and Yelp Reviews | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
 

MichaelJ

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Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
30
Yelp's review filter...we all loathe it, but I'm curious to know what everyone's experience is with getting reviews out of the filter.
I can't speak for getting others reviews out of the clutches of the Yelp filter, but I found the first Yelp review I posted in 2010 was then - and remains today - a filtered review. Discouraged I didn't do a second Yelp review until this year, but found all 6 subsequent reviews since then have all passed the filters. Why?

The difference is that I checked in to the business on Yelp a few days before posting the second review. My third review included 2 photos of the business and Yelp has got to love that. I checked in to the businesses, but posted days later once again on the 4th, 5th & 6th reviews. My 7th and most recent review was a negative experience and a poor review, which of course flew by the filters with no check in, picture or extra steps necessary.

So in keeping with @Phil's ?Do you ever write reviews on Yelp? advice, you could also try "Did you happen to check in on Yelp today?" to initiate the discussion. This is almost a recruiting effort for new Yelpers, but the result could be reviews that will actually stick.

The first step would be to get the customer just sign up for a Yelp account and check in at the business, but not do a review that day. As a repeat customer they could post a review the next time they visit - and check in which might very well get through. Also, I'll bet a first time Yelper's review - if accompanied by both a picture and a check in - will bypass the filters.

Great blog post on How to Help Clients and Friends Avoid the Yelp Review Filter

Incidentally, I "flagged" that 2010 filtered review a few minutes ago with the question "Why is my review flagged?" and will update this post if it makes a difference.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,522
@MichaelJ

Great insights / tests. That post you linked to is excellent. So thanks for all the above.
 

katandmouse

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Aug 23, 2012
Messages
114
Linda, I just read another comment by you in answer to the question about whether or not you can have 2 different businesses with the same phone number. Your answer there works here.

You said there, "think like Google" and try to figure out what the real businesses are.

And for Yelp, it's the same. "Think like Yelp" and try to figure out who the real reviewers are.

If someone goes in and leaves a review and nothing else, does that look real? No. It looks like you came there on a mission to leave a good review and nothing more. You have to be active in Yelp to be considered an authentic reviewer and that you can do by checking in, leaving other reviews and tips.

What's so maddening is that I see my clients getting amazing reviews, but then those reviews get hidden. Yelp's answer, from their mouth, as in a Meetup group I attended, said that is because they are trying to keep out the spam and to be a trusted source. I can't argue with that particularly when I know my clients' reviewers have nothing else in their profile other than 1 hidden review.

So, bottom line, it has to do with whether or not the reviewer is a trusted source or not. So think like Yelp. What kinds of algorithms do they have to identify those trusted sources. Then be that trusted source if you want your review to show up. If it's your customers' reviews you want out, unless they change you can't do anything about it. It's really up to them to be more "authentic."

Recently I had a tire leak fixed and I was really impressed with the service and told them so. They dropped what they were doing for another client to fix my tire. They asked me to Yelp them. I said "ABSOLUTELY. I do that sort of thing!" Got to my office and couldn't easily find them in Yelp and no link from their website to Yelp to do so. Ended up not leaving a review because it was taking too long and I had to get back to work.

So business owners take head:


  1. FIRST, make sure you are providing amazing, quality service so that everyone is compelled to talk about you positively and will go through the trouble of going to their favorite review site to shout it out.
  2. Put a table tent by the register with QR code to scan to be taken to G+ or Yelp. I would have done that!
  3. Make sure there is a G+ link button on your website with invitation to leave review
  4. Make sure there is a Yelp link button on your website with invitation to leave review
  5. Include links to review sites in all digital correspondence you send out

Do all that and you'll get enough good reviews that the hidden ones won't matter.
 

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