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

Definition here!

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.


A not so happy Yelp reviewer.

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.

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 staff, in which case you can have it flagged as inappropriate and it will be reviewed. What is inappropriate you ask? Someone using four-letter words, or personally attacking you or the business and slandering you generally 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!

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 promptly respond 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 incentive them with a discount of some sort.
  • Develop POP material that creates awareness inside your store or restaurant that encourages reviews and check-ins.
  • And finally, video customer 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.

Interested in Yelp advertising options? We’ve interviewed their reps and outlined the options.
Click here to receive a PDF document outlining Yelp’s ad packages so you can make a more informed advertising decision.

What are your experiences with Yelp reviews? Have you actively pursued reviews from your customers?

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  • 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.

  • 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 : review on city search


  • Karen


  • 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 ?

      • 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.