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The Yelp Filter Demystified (aka the Dead Zone)

It is a great resource to grow your business and put your name out there where people will indeed see it. Now I have already spoken about my basic strategies on how to use Yelp in a previous post: Testimonials Work and How to Get Them. What I am going to discuss here is a little something different. I am going to hit on two main points: the Yelp review filter, as well as how to deal with negative reviews.

The Yelp Review Filter

So you just got a rave review from a new client…and then within minutes poof, gone, disappeared, nowhere to be found. Frustration sets in when you realize that the lovely new review has been filtered, but what seems to be the Wizard of Oz. So let’s talk about how the review filter works so that you can avoid the frustration, and ensure that all your super awesome reviews stay on your profile page.

So one thing that I want to point out is that, even though, your review has been filtered off of you business page, the review is still posted on the user’s profile page. This is where the review really lives, and it is then syndicated to the business page that has been reviewed. So you have to remember that for good and bad the review is property of the user. The more active and established the user is the more clout the review carries. So a general rule of thumb is that if the user is not an established Yelper the chances are that the review will be filtered.

So here is what you need to look for in a Yelper:

  • Is the profile complete, with a picture, short bio etc?
  • Does the Yelper have friends, likes, or compliments?
  • Has the Yelper posted any reviews or it the review to your business the first (or one of the first few)?
  • Is the Yelper in your area?

These are a few of the main areas that the software considers when looking at the review, it does not mean that it will be automatically filtered. New users join Yelp all the time, otherwise it would not continue to thrive and grow as it does.

Some other areas that can raise a red flag for the Yelp filter algorithm:

  • Reviews that are too strongly slanted negatively or positively
  • Reviews that lack detail and are very short

How to Identify an Established Yelper

The Yelp Elite ranking is one of the easiest ways to spot a power user, but here are the other things to look for in an established Yelper.

The established Yelper will have a complete profile, including a photo and a link to their facebook page. The Yelper will also have a few friends and followers on Yelp that they interact with. The Yelper will have posted several reviews, and perhaps a list or two.

The point behind the Yelp filter is to prevent false reviews and phony accounts. So the more things that a user does to prove that he or she is a real user the less likely those reviews will be filtered.

How to Avoid Getting Filtered

When you talk to a client about giving a review, you may also want to ask about how complete their profile is. You can add the person as a friend, follow them and vote their reviews as “funny”, “useful, or “cool.” On your business page listing, be sure to respond to the reviews. The more interaction you have on your business page the stronger your presence will be.

Returning from the Dark Side (or how to get back a filtered review)

Reviews can drift in about out of the filtered section while this may be a little scary for those not so pleasant review (which we will get to in a moment). You can possibly help to strengthen a user’s profile in order to have a filtered review return to the main business listing page. So you can start by following the user or adding them as a friend. If that does not work, you can also send them a message via Yelps messaging system. Keep it short and sweet, a little something like this perhaps:

[alert color=”yellow” icon=””]

Hi Kim,

I really appreciate your feedback in regard to our visit on (such and such date). Unfortunately, your review has been filtered. If you have a moment, it would be greatly appreciated if you would complete your profile, and update your review.

Kyra @ Your Friendly Service Company[/alert]

Big Time No-No’s

Yelp’s policy is that you can not ask for a positive review. Same goes for Google. And by no means, should you ever offer to pay for a positive review either. There is a fine line with Yelp, but you need to be aware of it. Due to the high volume of traffic that Yelp brings to local businesses it is not worth bending the rules. So what is ok?  Keep it simple and tell your clients to “Check us out on Yelp” or “We’d love your feedback on Yelp”.

[alert color=”red” icon=”yelp”]It’s NOT OK to ask a client for a “positive” review.  This is a no-no! But, it IS OK to ask a client for their feedback. :)[/alert]

Do not create fake Yelp identities in order to use them to post favorable reviews on Yelp. The risk far outweighs the benefits of trying this tactic.

The best thing you can do for you business and your Yelp profile is to provide a stellar experience to each and every client.

How to Turn a Negative into a Positive

One single negative review can feel like the worst thing that ever happened to you. In the very moment, there is panic and fear. How could anyone say something so horrible, what have I done to deserve this? Breathe…stay calm and create a plan of action.

Gather all the details about the client and what happened from within the company. Remember to stay call, and not place blame, we don’t want anyone to get defensive, we all make mistakes sometimes.

  • Call the client and LISTEN…..then apologize and offer to do whatever it takes to make this right.
  • Publicly post a short message on Yelp in regard to the review…stating that you are ready, willing, and able to take the negative situation and turn it into a positive.
  • Make it right, follow up, ask for an updated review.

Here is an example of when a miscommunication in the type of service desired turned into a 1- star review. Panic set in, but then I took the bull by the horn and turned the situation into a 5-star review.

Yelp Review

Just a note, it is not always possible. Sometimes the mistake is too big, or the client just will not listen. I have been yelled at, cussed as, and told to never ever contact clients again. I do my best to never take it personally, but always learn from it whatever I possibly can.

As we grow larger, we also understand the there will be more mistakes, and more negative reviews. We strive for a 100% satisfaction rating, but all in all we are very happy with 98% Yelp Review.