Having a naturally appearing, “good” online reputation can send many new customers your way. However, a negative online reputation can cause a whole lot of damage across the web and cost a business dearly in lost revenue. If your business listing on Yelp or other sites show negative reviews – there is no doubt, you are losing business. In fact, a recent study shows that 80 percent of people have changed their mind about shopping at a business due to negative reviews.
Because Yelp is one of the most visited online review sites, they hold immense power in their business listings.
Some time ago, Yelp employed what they call a “review filter” that was put in place to “automatically” hide fake reviews. In order to keep business listings from being manipulated, they don’t disclose the rules that their filter uses. And any time Yelp takes the axe to a review, it effects the business’s overall rating potential.
In addition to hiding filtered reviews from visitors to Yelp’s website, the rating stars associated with filtered reviews are also completely obscured from search engines and are not reflected in the star rating you might see in search results along side a business listing. With that comes the backlash of many, many business owners that are upset to find that their business reviews have been tampered with by someone (or something) other than themselves.
Throughout the web it’s easy to find complaints from business owners and Yelpers alike stating that reviews from legitimate customers are being filtered; many of which are positive reviews. When those positive reviews are filtered and negative or neutral reviews are left visible, it leaves a business with an unjustified negative public perception.
Algorithms can only find and detect certain patterns – They do not replace human rationale.
Aside from the straight forward findings we’ve seen over time with our clients, there certainly seems to be exceptions made by the Yelp filter that don’t make sense. These exceptions are evidenced by the many seasoned Yelpers that have come to find their reviews mysteriously filtered – even though they are extremely active on the site. Add to that, the fact that small business owners don’t understand the filter’s reasoning (nor does 99.998% of the world’s population) and it’s easy to see where all of the talk of extortion comes into play.
While I personally, am not completely convinced that Yelp is extorting money from business owners, I am 100% convinced that their review filter algorithm needs alot of work. The company’s flippant attitude towards their review filter and the power they hold over business’s reputations is really disheartening. Awareness of the matter is causing people to lose trust in their site anyhow – which is exactly what they’ve said they are trying to avoid in the first place.