How To Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews. avatar
How To Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews.

Have you checked your Yelp reviews lately? Have you received a less than favorable review from a customer? Have you fired any employees (hurry and check your reviews)? Wish you could get rid of that negative Yelp review? If yes, then read on.

Make no mistake, in the web 2.0 era and the social media boom, customers will freely speak their minds and publish their opinions about your business whether they are fair or not. And unfortunately, it seems the angry customer wants to tell many more people than a satisfied customer.

I recently reviewed an Adwords campaign from a dental client and in a short time frame he had received 8 clicks and 42 impressions on queries with the word “review” or “reviews” in it related to his brand or service type. Now this was a small campaign, but nonetheless, when one client could be worth thousands of dollars he could have lost 8 or more large clients because he wasn’t managing his Yelp reviews. And believe me, when I say, your future customers are checking your reviews before they buy from you.

58% of Americans have researched a product or service online.
Pew Internet and Life Project

24% of American adults say they have posted comments or reviews online.
Pew Internet and Life Project

And the Pew study is two years old. Those numbers are far greater today.

[Considering advertising on Yelp? Click here to receive a PDF document outlining Yelp’s ad packages. ]

The Review Reality

The semi-bad news is that, regardless if you’re a Yelp advertising customer or not, the only way you can get rid of bad Yelp reviews is if the review itself is deemed inappropriate by the Yelp TOS (terms of service), in which case you can have it flagged as inappropriate, and it will be reviewed (see my related post just below here about how to submit a Yelp review for removal).

What is inappropriate you ask? Someone using four-letter words, or personally attacking you or the business and slandering you falls under inappropriate, but there are shades of gray in that interpretation. If you’ve ever had to fire an employee you’ve probably had someone anonymously leave a scathing review of you and/or your business. Nonetheless, you can’t get rid of a negative review just because it doesn’t represent your business in the best light–sorry!

I wrote a related post about how to respond to negative reviews AND how to submit a review for removal from Yelp, Google Plus, and Facebook.

And another related post about from a survey we did about which online review sites consumer find the most important – spoiler alert, it’s not Yelp!

Action You Can Take

There is hope though if you have some nasty Yelp reviews hanging out there. The single best tactic you can employ is to provide outstanding customer service to all your customers, so you are consistently getting positive 4-5 star reviews. I know that probably seems obvious, but the reality is if you are consistently getting 3 stars or lower there’s something wrong operationally with your business.

Regardless, being proactive in asking for reviews from your customers is the single best tactic you can implement to bury bad reviews.

How to be proactive with reviews:

  • First claim your business on Yelp so you can respond to reviews asap. Customers don’t expect you to have all 5-star ratings, but they do expect a reputable company to respond promptly to negative reviews in a professional manner.
  • Print business cards out that have your Yelp address on them and hand them out to select customers. You could even incentivize them with some sort of discount for a review provided they print out the review and bring it in on their next visit — don’t worry, not many people will write a negative review, print it out, visit your business again and present it to you for a discount. And if your Yelp URL for your business is too long, use a URL shortener.
  • Email your best customers and ask them for a review, and again you can use an incentive with a discount of some sort although it’s best just to email them without an incentive – the FTC and Yelp frown on incentivizing for reviews.
  • Develop POP material that creates awareness inside your store or restaurant that encourages reviews and check-ins.
  • And finally, customer video testimonials: keep a video camera around and ask your best customers to give you a short testimonial that you can then upload to your company’s YouTube channel, and have it optimized for search engines of course.

There are some caveats to the strategy of actively seeking reviews from customers. Yelp discourages business owners from actively soliciting reviews and states that most likely the reviews will be filtered out anyway. I have been told that the reviews may show eventually, and then they may disappear yet again; it all depends on the algorithm they have put into place. Yelp does have a heavy-handed algorithm, and I’ve seen them filter out most new reviews for some businesses. Regardless, not doing anything and hoping you get some positive reviews is like waiting for rain in a drought. The best situation is having clients that already have a Yelp account and have done reviews in the past, but since these customers are few and far between, just ask all your good customers.

What are your experiences with Yelp reviews? Have you actively pursued reviews from your customers?
Click here to receive a PDF document outlining Yelp’s ad packages.

  • https://twitter.com/Fairlite cyndi

    Soliciting Yelp reviews actually can serve to hurt a business more than help it. Reviews written by brand new users are usually filtered (hidden) and cause a business page to look suspicious Yelp community…just a heads up ; ) The best option is to include reminders that your business is on Yelp with check-in offers, or featuring a (legit) printed out review in a frame near your till or in the washroom. Great subtle reminders : )

  • Toby

    Cyndi, thanks for the comment! Great points and additional tips. :-) I still believe businesses need to be proactive about soliciting legit online reviews and/or creating awareness, but perhaps with emphasis on being more subtle about it, per your point. Of all the businesses I’ve seen being more proactive about reviews, while some were filtered, others were not, and nobody had any negative repercussions. Most businesses that I have witnessed also did not have a rush of reviews come in at once.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JMTAUTOADS Jake Taylor

    Its all about SEO.. Have all your customer go to other website to rate you!! The more people talk about your company on other website the more relivant they are to you website!! This will kick YELPS SEO to the Bottom and you will not be advertising for Yelp
    If you could please rate us on these sites we would really appreciate it!

    Google: Search on google and go to google reviews to review us

    If you could please rate us on these sites we would really appreciate it!

    Google: Search on google and go to google revies to review us

    Citysearch.com : review on city search

    Yelowpages.com

    ECT

  • Karen

    GREAT TIPS THANK YOU! VERRY HELPFUL.

  • grossefatigue

    The best is just to ignore Yelp and have your customers use Citisearch, yahoo and Yellow Pages instead, drowning Yelp. Actually fewer people than you think look at Yelp. Business owners get reports on traffic. There is no traffic. Only angry customers post in some businesses. It is not worth our time. Our biggest customers never post anything. It is the shit customer that dont even buy anything that post. I am extremely suspicious of Yelp. In my case I refused to advertise with them and all my good reviews are ignored, with only bad reviews counting for the rating. It stinks. Their “filter” is a joke.

    • John Reviewit

      Exactly how do we convince a potential new customer we’ve never met to use alternative searches ?

      • http://www.39celsius.com/ Toby Danylchuk

        You can’t convince new customers to use alternative search platforms – Yelp is the #1 review site, but many potential customers start their searches with keywords in Google so running Google Adwords campaigns can capture that traffic before they get to Yelp.

  • Casey

    Ive had more good reviews then bad and they are only approving the bad ones and all the bad ones are false. ive written to yelp several times but don’t get anywhere.

  • SouthernCal

    Yelp has become somewhat of a joke now among small business owners in my area. Their hard selling techniques to sell ads and their threat of making business ranking last on searches has turned off many of us.
    Small business owners really rely on words of mouth and these reviews can make or break a business. All reviews on Yelp are treated with equal weight whether a reviewer knows what he is talking about or not. Readers of the reviews are only offer a choice of rating the review as “useful”, “funny” or “cool”. What about an option to flag some of these review as “bad” or “not useful”. The longer you are in business the more your business will fare. Your happy and repeated customers will not write and rewrite positive reviews for you while one timer customers with an entitlement attitude and an ax to grind can rant on and on about how bad your business is.
    Yelp has a bad business model and all of these should come back and bite them.

    • Instyle Boutique

      I agree, i owned a small consignment boutique, and i have a bad review from a unhappy confused consignee who his contract expired 10 months ago and he expected and demanded us to pay him. Our contract states that if contract expires & you are not responsible for pick up, all money & proceeds goes to charity. He wrote on yelp that i was a theft. A contract is a contract. Yelp has not been beneficial for my business at all, any random person can write a bad review and i notice some of my new costumers have less than two friends or reviews their good reviews go to the end of the hidden page. How is this helping? I’m considering closing my account. Yelp is a joke.

  • Stephanie

    Yelp is ridiculous. You can work for a whole year to get 2-3 good reviews and Yelp will filter them for no reason unless you pay them. It’s ridiculous and their manipulation tactics are extortion. Plain and simple.

    • Cara

      You are so right They are just trying to get business owners to buy their advertising packages by controlling reviews on your yelp page. I wonder when someone will step in here and shut them down. I am trying to close my account but it seems like they will not let me. I am just open to unjust attack because I will not pay the high priced advertising offered by yelp. Only when enough people get together to shut this down they will continue to harm many great businesses. It reminds me of the mafia and how they used to go into businesses to take money and if you did not pay they would destroy your shop. Not cool! This is a very serious problem that needs to be stopped. has anyone consulted an attorney about this ? I just want to know how to close my account.

      • Vickie

        You are so right!
        The best advice now is to say your business is closed-sold -new owners.
        My best choice is to offer customers a discount for a bad review. I mean, make a joke out of it!!! Negitave publicity will keep yor name out there-and it will be FUNNY!
        I will now do this for me, it (yelp) will not control me NO MORE!

  • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

    I just had a review where the guy called me a “jerkoff” as a result of a free tax consultation. Yelp responded that the review should not be removed. Your thoughts?

    • http://www.39celsius.com/ Toby Danylchuk

      It’s hard to say with Yelp – just depends on who reviews the review and if the interpretation of “jerkoff” violates its TOS in that particular person’s view. Here’s the link to 2nd revisions if you want to try, but in general, it’s frustrating and not too often they pull these down. https://www.yelp-support.com/article/Can-I-request-a-second-evaluation-of-something-I-reported-that-did-not-get-removed?l=en_US

      • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

        Thanks so much. This review was placed in the “not currently recommended” area by Yelp. I spoke to this man for 15 minutes, was respectful and honest and there was no hint of animosity. I have no idea why this occurred but the post was very mean spirited and negative. In light of the fact that it is restricted, should I continue to fight this or just forget about it?

        • http://www.39celsius.com/ Toby Danylchuk

          So it was buried by Yelp’s review algorithm, however that can be temporary and it could show in the recommended review section visible to all at some random point in the future. If that Yelp profile changes positively, Yelp may move that review to visible for all to see. You might as well contest it, but it’s somewhat random if they take it down – I’ve seen reviews with foul language stay up after requesting a review. Good luck!

          • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

            Thanks Toby for your insights. If it stays up, should I publicly respond to this review or do I risk his wrath and the exposure of him going to other places on the internet. Or do I leave “sleeping dogs lie” in this situation and just let the public (if they ever even see this restricted review) see it without my comment?

          • http://www.39celsius.com/ Toby Danylchuk

            I’m an advocate of responding to reviews. For this one though it’s hard to say – if he’s just a troll and calling you names it might be best to leave it since nobody is likely to not go to you because someone referred to you as a “jerkoff”, but if he’s making statements pertaining to services, etc, those should be responded to professionally and then get the conversation offline as soon as possible.

          • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

            That just it Toby. We are talking about a preliminary phone consult and he said I gave him bad advice when in fact I did not. That is what he is bad mouthing me about. He never came into my office, he was never a client and I was just giving him free advice. You know the old adage: “No good deed goes unpunished.” I was cordial, friendly and kind, so I was shocked by his response. I think he got mad because I said to him pay it forward after I gave him free legal advice over the phone. I guess my time has no value.

          • http://www.39celsius.com/ Toby Danylchuk

            I would definitely reply then in a professional, non-emotional way – people that read it will see through it and that you did your part. Some people these days are very quick to reply negatively whether it’s fair or not.

          • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

            Ok, I will give this some serious consideration. By the way is there something I can do for you Toby in cyberspace. I do “pay it forward” so let me know if I can write a review or follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I would welcome the chance to help you!