How To Remove Bad Reviews From Yelp

by Toby

July 18, 2023

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews

If you're running a retail business or consumer-facing business in today's digital world, you know how important customer feedback is.

It's not just a pat on the back or a slap on the wrist. No, sir! It's the lifeblood of your business, shaping your decisions, steering your course, and influencing your success.

And where does this all-important feedback often show up?

You guessed it - Yelp!

Those star ratings and reviews can make or break your business, turning potential customers into loyal fans or sending them running for the hills. So sit tight because in just the next few minutes, we'll dive into the rollercoaster world of Yelp reviews and how to handle them like a champ!

Understanding Concerns about Negative Yelp Reviews

Let's face it, negative Yelp reviews can send chills down any business owner's spine. And why wouldn't they? Your reputation is on the line, and in the age of the internet, word spreads faster than wildfire.

Prospects Read Reviews Before Buying

Look at the table below for search terms for a website that sells direct-to-consumer dental mouthguards. People are searching for reviews about this business. And they are searching for review for your business, too.

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - Review Search Terms from Google

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - Review Search Terms from Google

But the common worries that plague businesses regarding negative Yelp reviews are many and varied. Some fear the potential loss of customers, others dread the damage to their online reputation. There's also the worry about a single negative review tarnishing years of hard work and dedication. And let's not forget the concern that competitors may be behind those scathing reviews (more about how to report a fake review in a bit).

But here's the real kicker: 

The ramifications of NOT addressing these concerns can be far more damaging. Ignoring negative reviews doesn't make them disappear; it simply makes your business appear indifferent to customer feedback.

A bad review left unanswered can create a snowball effect, deterring potential customers who might think you don't care about their experiences.

In the end, it's not just about the negative review itself, but how you handle it that counts.

So, instead of losing sleep over those one-star ratings, let's roll up our sleeves and turn them into opportunities for growth and improvement. It's time to embrace the challenge head-on!

How to Get Bad Yelp Reviews Removed

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…

Reporting a Review on Yelp for Takedown

Not all reviews are created equal, and sometimes, they may violate Yelp's Content Guidelines. If you come across a review that seems inappropriate or fake, you can report it to Yelp for possible removal.

Here's what constitutes a violation of Yelp's guidelines (you can read more about Yelps guidelines here):

  1. 1
    Inappropriate Content: Offensive language, harassment, or hate speech.
  2. 2
    Conflicts of Interest: Reviews written by the business owner, employees, or competitors.
  3. 3
    Privacy Violations: Sharing private information about individuals without their consent.

If you have a review violating these guidelines on your Yelp profile, follow these steps to report it (you will have to have claimed your page and logged in to report it):

  1. 1
    Click on the ellipsis to the right of that review
  2. 2
    Choose Report Review in the drop-down menu
  3. 3
    Choose a Reason from the drop-down
How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - 1-star Yelp Review Example

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - 1-star Yelp Review Example

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - Reporting a Yelp Review

How to Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews - Reporting a Yelp Review

After you report a review, Yelp's moderators will evaluate it against their guidelines. If it's found to be in violation, it may be removed. But often, they leave reviews in place. 

So what can you do if Yelp refuses to take down a bad review?

Other Actions You Should Take

1

Responding to Negative Reviews

There's an art to responding to negative reviews and mastering it can make all the difference. 


A professional, timely response not only shows that you value customer feedback but also that you're committed to resolving issues and improving your services. 


It's a golden opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one, and potentially win over others who see your thoughtful response.

When crafting your response, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Stay Calm: It's easy to get defensive but remember, your response is public, and future customers will see it too. Keep emotions in check.
  • Acknowledge and Apologize: Start by acknowledging the customer's experience and apologizing for any inconvenience caused.
  • Offer a Solution: Show that you're proactive in solving the problem. This could be a refund, a replacement, or a promise to improve.

Example

Now, let's look at a case study that perfectly illustrates the power of an appropriate response. 

A local café received a scathing review about their slow service during peak hours.

Instead of ignoring the review, the café owner responded promptly. He apologized for the long wait, explained that they were short-staffed that day, and invited the reviewer back for a complimentary meal. This response showed their commitment to customer satisfaction, transparency, and willingness to accept responsibility.

The result? 

The disgruntled customer revised their review, praising the café for their excellent customer service, and became a regular patron.

Remember, a negative review isn't the end of the world. It's how you respond that counts!

Use AI Chat to Write Review Replies

In the fast-paced world of online reviews, responding swiftly and effectively is essential. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat can come into play, helping you craft professional, personalized responses in a timely manner. You can use any number of free AI Chat services, including Chat GPT. 

Example Prompts You Can Use for AI Chat (i.e., Chat GPT):

Using AI chat to craft professional responses to negative reviews can be as simple as providing the right prompts. Here are a few examples and explanations on how to guide the AI in adopting your preferred tone and style.

Example 1:

Prompt: "AI, draft a response to this negative review: 'The service at your restaurant was extremely slow, and the food was cold when it arrived.' Please write in a polite and empathetic tone."

By specifying the tone as "polite and empathetic," you're instructing the AI to approach the situation with understanding and respect, while remaining professional.

Example 2:

Prompt: "AI, respond to this negative review: 'Your product broke within a week of purchase.' Write in a confident and solution-oriented style."

In this case, you're asking the AI to exude confidence in addressing the issue, focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on the problem.

Example 3:

Prompt: "AI, craft a response to this review: 'I found your staff to be rude and unhelpful.' Use a sincere and apologetic tone."

Here, you're directing the AI to acknowledge the customer's dissatisfaction and offer an apology, conveying sincerity in the response.

Remember, the key is to be explicit about the tone and style you want the AI to adopt in its response. This will help ensure that the AI's output aligns with your brand's voice and values, while effectively addressing the customer's concerns.

Benefits of using AI Chat:

  • Time-Saving: AI can generate responses quickly, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Consistency: AI ensures a consistent tone and style in all responses, reflecting your brand's voice accurately.
  • 24/7 Availability: AI doesn't sleep or take breaks, meaning it can respond to reviews as soon as they're posted.
  • Scalability: Whether you have 10 reviews or 10,000, AI can handle large volumes of feedback without getting overwhelmed.
  • Non-emotional responses

Limitations when using AI Chat to write your responses:

  1. 1
    Lack of Human Touch: While AI can mimic human-like responses, it may not fully capture the empathy and understanding a human responder can provide.
  2. 2
    Contextual Understanding: AI might miss nuances or misunderstand complex language, leading to potentially inappropriate responses.

Best Practices:

  • Human Oversight: Always have a human review AI-generated responses before posting. This ensures the response is appropriate and aligns with your brand's voice.

  • Customization: Customize the AI's responses to reflect your brand's personality and values.
  • Continuous Learning: Train your AI on new phrases, slang, and industry-specific jargon to improve its understanding and responses over time.

AI chat can be a valuable tool for managing your Yelp reviews, but remember, it's a tool, not a replacement for genuine, human interaction. Use it to assist and enhance your response efforts, but always keep the human touch front and center.

2

Encourage Positive Reviews

Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews is an excellent way to build your online reputation and attract more customers. Remember, however, Yelp specifically states that you should never ask for reviews (you can read more about that here). So, if you ask for reviews, proceed at your own risk and be discreet. But here are some strategies:

  1. 1
    Ask for Reviews: Sometimes, all it takes is a simple request. If a customer expresses satisfaction with your product or service, ask them to share their experience in a review. 
  2. 2
    Send a Follow-Up Email: After a purchase or service, send a follow-up email thanking the customer and asking them to leave a review. Make sure to include a direct link to your review platform to make it as easy as possible.
  3. 3
    Create POP material like table tents, and in-store signage creating awareness about leaving a review.
  4. 4
    Use Marketing Automation: With marketing automation, you can provide a simple survey to a customer before prompting them to leave a review. If they respond positively, then, and only then, you can provide them with a link to leave you a review. If they response negatively, that option is not presented to them.

A final word of caution about requesting reviews.

Yelp's heavy-handed algorithm buries many reviews that never see the light of day. Nobody knows precisely what this algorithm is looking for, but I do know if reviews are unnatural, they will be hidden and not shown. 

For example, if too many reviews come in too quickly or at a pace that is unnatural, they will likely be flagged and not shown.

If Yelp can't confirm if the person actually was at the location, the review might not be shown.

There are hundreds of reasons why reviews will not be shown. So, proceed with caution and at your own risk of encouraging reviews. Often the best course of action is to ensure you have great customer service and a great product to start with. And use your reviews as feedback to improve. 

Let me know what your experience has been with Yelp reviews in the comments below.

About the author 

Toby

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

  • 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 : )

  • 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.

  • 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

  • GREAT TIPS THANK YOU! VERRY HELPFUL.

  • grossefatigue says:

    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 says:

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

      • 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.

  • 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 says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

    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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

  • 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?

      • 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?

        • 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!

          • 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?

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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!

  • The best advice in this article is to be awesome at your business and at customer service. I was terrified of yelp when I found my business listed on it and wanted to shut down my account. I was told that there was no such thing, so I just waited in suspense.

    I’m an electrician and it’s taken me about 6 or 7 years I guess, but I now have (22) 5-Star reviews on Yelp and a bunch more that don’t show. All my reviews are 5 stars except for one which is 4 Stars.
    At least two reviews are from people that never even hired me -but were grateful that I was willing to spend time with them on the phone to help them with their problems. Heh: 20 minutes on the phone in “exchange” for a 5-star review is about the best investment I could have made. 🙂

    I can’t speak to everyone’s business, or their business model, but as an owner: YOU are your best tool for attracting and keeping new customers. I often tell my customers things like “I love my work and I don’t just do it to make a living, but I do it because I feel great at the end of a good job. It makes me happy to do excellent work and even happier when you are blown away.”

    I can tell you that people are so grateful that I am willing to talk to them. I answer my phone, or call them back without exception because once you talk to a person and they get to know you, they will almost always hire you just because they like you.
    Having said all that, a few times I have met someone who is not responding to me. That’s okay, you can’t fall in love with every person that you meet either. 🙂 if they are not responding enthusiastically to what I am saying and they are not giving me their energy back, I give a higher estimate. If they turn me down, it’s no real loss on my part …and if I get the job and charge them less than my (high) estimate, that usually puts a big smile on their face. 😉

    I don’t know if there is a way for you to successfully do this or not, but my very strong advice to any of you who don’t have all 4 or 5-star reviews is to contact each person who’s given you a bad review and offer to redo whatever it is that you did, and do it for free. Even if you are “right”, and they are “wrong”, your goal should be to change their review and get 5 stars. At the end of your interaction with anyone who lets you try again, ask them, literally, if there is anything else that you can do to not just satisfy them, but to make them feel great. Satisfaction is 3 stars; awesome is 5 stars.
    Most people will be flattered that you want to know what it is that will get them to five stars, because it shows that you value their opinion and that you think that they are smart enough to help you to become a successful business person. And I would literally say to them I want to know what would make my service 5 stars; I want to enroll you in making sure that you get everything from me that you deserve . And it’s just because I want you to feel great, but I want to have every person that I work with in the future feel great too.

    I’ve never had to do this, but that would be my strategy. And yes, of course there will always be somebody who is a true jerk and won’t let you help them no matter how much benefit to them it would be. Let that person go and get to work on the next person

    And in the future, your goal should be to get 5 stars from everybody, every time.

  • Bruce Neely says:

    I personally know a Dentist who had a terrible yelp review with verifiable lies. She has no record of the patient and her re odds comply with all illinois laws! Yelp won’t remove the fictitious review and there is a record that proves it is lies. No service was provided that the review describes! We are currently looking at legal remedies to false reviews!

    • Yes, we see fake and misleading negative reviews with many of our clients, but unfortunately, and to the frustration of all business owners including myself, Yelp will rarely if ever take these down (similar situation with Google and Facebook reviews too). Best course of action is to reply professionally and state your case and then just move on to getting reviews from happy customers.

  • I had yelp revmove a slanderous review by someone i assure you was never a patient of mine. ( reivew was a year ago and i just notice do it) They must then tell the reviewer that they removed it because he today posted an even worse review – none of which is true! Yelp refuses to remove this one which makes no sense!Has anyone hired a lawyer to get it removed?

      • Yelp refused to remove it so I changed the name of my practice to ????? and said it was located In PA and it was a library! So now no one can see it. I don’t think people look for a dentist on yelp anyhow. I have plenty of other great reviews on other sites

        • Cole Varner says:

          People absolutely look for a dentist on Yelp. If I am going to spend time and money on a service I want it to be the best in the area, especially for something where pricing remains relatively constant between providers. The days of patients blindly going to the nearest doctor/dentist/therapist are over.

          • So in your opinion you will find ‘the best’ of the best on Yelp? I would think maybe google or health grades would be better for a medical profession. I didn’t mean to say anyone would go blindly just didn’t think Yelp was that influential for dentists-I guess I”m wrong

      • Lori Pope says:

        How? What I’m going through is that Yelp leaves all the 1 star reviews from people who only have one review – mine, and hides a ton of 5 star reviews from people who have many reviews. I never ask for reviews. The process is discriminatory and not equal in its judgment. Yelp also allows reviews from people or x-employees who have never been customers. When I appealed they said they don’t see any TOS violations

        • Yes – I hear your frustration. Almost all the business owners I speak with are incredibly frustrated with Yelp. Not sure if I have ever spoken to a happy Yelp customer yet. The only way to get a review removed is to appeal the review to them, or reach out to the person directly, unfortunately.

  • I have a similar problem. My service business was slandered by someone that is not a customer. I even had a Yelp account, had one of that reviewers handful of reviews removed by another
    offended party that happened to be a municipality, and Yelp still would not remove my review. That’s a compelling case. I’m currently working with my state Consumer Protection agency. They might tell you they don’t handle business to business, but you can create caveats. Keep in mind that Yelp with it’s significant market presence and the defacto review site for BING and YAHOO, wields too much influence. In essence, it’s sort of a gateway. So the solution is to restrain Yelp’s free-wheeling algorithm. I hope that helps and feel free to reply.

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