So, obviously I know the importance of positive reviews on the web – especially for businesses that are consumer driven. I work with a number of clients to help them manage their online reputation, create positive buzz and address the inevitable negative rant that will appear online about them or their business. So, imagine my surprise when I recently wrote two stellar reviews for places I love on Yelp only to find that my reviews had been filtered and were not displaying in either business’ listing? What gives?
According to Yelp’s FAQ:
Does the filter only target positive reviews?
No. The software applies the same analysis to everyone. It sometimes affects more positive reviews simply because Yelp users write more positive reviews in the first place. In other cases, it affects positive reviews that appear to have been solicited by business owners (a practice which may seem like a good way to generate more reviews, but which tends to create an unintentional bias). In any event, the filter affects both positive and negative reviews — feel free to check out a random sampling of businesses listed on Yelp to see for yourself.
In my experience with Yelp, it does filter or remove positive reviews much more frequently than negative reviews. To me, this is nuts. Trust me, you do need to encourage people to take the time and go online to post positive reviews. Customers may rave about your business in person, but we’re all busy and very few people will take the time to go online and write up their positive experience. Contrast that with the speed and ease with which an angry customer (or non-customer!) can post a nasty rant about you or your business? An angry individual can post right from your place of business when armed with a smartphone. Talk about no filter! Their complaint doesn’t even have to be true to be posted.
So, why does Yelp penalize businesses who have customers who love them? I don’t get it. Should I not be truthful in my praise for a place I love? That seems nuts and like it would make their site less useful, not more. Congratulations Yelp, I won’t be posting any more reviews on your site for the businesses I want to promote. I will write my glowing reviews on Google Places instead. I also won’t be using your site to find reviews either.
You can read more about their Review Filter here.