How To Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews.

by Toby

August 1, 2019

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.

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 a Google Ads 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.

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.

82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, and 40% said they always or almost always read online reviews, based on a study from Pew Research Center

And the Pew study is dated 2016. Those numbers are far greater today.

The semi-bad news is that regardless of whether or not 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 inappropriate and violates the Yelp TOS (terms of service), in which case you can report the review to yelp and it will be reviewed for possible removal.

Here’s the actual process…

How To Get A Yelp Review Removed

  • Step one: Report the review to Yelp for removal
  • Step two: Choose a reason that the review should be removed
  • Step three: provide Yelp with specific details and reasoning
  • Step four: submit your case to Yelp

Once the review has been submitted, you have to wait for several days for Yelp to respond. Yelp’s response will be either that it agreed with you or not. If it did not agree with you, you can appeal one more time. 

Flag Yelp Review For Removal
Flag Yelp Review For Removal
Reason Yelp Review Should Be Removed
The Reason The Yelp Review Should Be Removed

What violates Yelp’s TOS or is considered inappropriate you ask?

Someone using four-letter words, or personally attacking you or the business and slandering you fall 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 a survey we did about which online review sites consumers find the most important – spoiler alert, it’s not Yelp!

Other Actions You Should 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 increasing your positive reviews 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. According to Yelp’s Data Science team, customers are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalized message within 24 hours.
  • Print business cards out that have your Yelp address on them and hand them out to select customers. This is a take-home reminder to the customer that Yelp reviews are important to your business.  And instead of “incentives for reviews” which is against Yelp’s TOS, consider “incentives for ”
  • Although you cannot offer incentives to customers for reviews, you can offer incentives for referrals. By doing so, you can track who your loyal customers are (the ones who are spreading the word), and then ask those customers to leave you a positive review on Yelp. Bonus: new customers means more chances to provide excellent service and earn more positive reviews!
  • Email your best customers and ask them for a review
  • Develop POP material that creates awareness inside your store or restaurant that encourages reviews and check-ins. If someone checks in on the Yelp app, Yelp will remind that person to review them too.
  • 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, your website and have it optimized for search engines of course.

There are some caveats to the strategy of actively seeking reviews from customers. First, stay abreast of Yelp’s TOS as they do update this regularly and the rules can change about what Yelp considers acceptable or not.

Yelp discourages business owners from actively soliciting reviews and states that most likely the reviews will be filtered out anyway. It’s not uncommon that reviews that are in the “unrecommended” section 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 many new reviews for some businesses. There are many signals Yelp is looking at, but one that will trigger its algorithm to filter more reviews is a burst of new reviews – if that burst of new reviews is unnatural then it’s more likely Yelp will bury some of these new reviews.

But not doing anything to improve your review rating 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, ask all your good customers.

What are your experiences with Yelp reviews?

Have you actively pursued reviews from your customers?

About the author 


Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several different companies throughout his career.

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