Here at Optimum Feedback, we try to emphasize the importance of receiving customer reviews – both good and bad. Reviews help the undecideds on whether or not to use your services, and it puts a human face on what might otherwise be a bland boring online business listing.
One of the sites on which you should be focusing your efforts on is Yelp. This is a hugely popular site for reviews, and a negative Yelp review can truly break a business. This can be seen by some of the extreme lengths people have gone to to get negative reviews off their business page. This has led to Yelp leaving warning pop-ups on pages of businesses who are litigation-friendly.
But did you know not all reviews actually make it to the front page?
Many people don’t realize that Yelp operates a filter where it tries to nuke all the spam reviews and anything deemed “not relevant”. The ratings from these reviews are not factored in, when Yelp calculates the business’ overall score on the site.
But before you start applauding Yelp’s foresight and business acumen, the downside is that legitimate reviews also get snared in the same trap. The result of this is not only are these legitimate reviews not seen by people visiting your Yelp page, but it is dragging down your Yelp score by not being factored in.
There is no official method for getting reviews out of the Yelp filter. If there was, and it became public knowledge, the spammers would have a field day. But there is an unofficial method which may or may not work. It’s certainly worth taking some time once a week to give it a try. Your business’s Yelp rating can only benefit if it works.
Find The Filtered Reviews
Go to your business page and scroll down to the bottom until you find a grey link that says “XX Other Reviews That Are Not Currently Recommended“. I am using the business page of a restaurant my wife and I went to a few years back. My very negative review is there, but others are not.
I should also point out I am using the German Yelp since I live in Germany, but what I am about to show you works on every Yelp site around the world.
If you click on that grey link, the reviews in the Yelp filter will appear.
In the case of this business, there are 11 customer reviews in the Yelp filter. But bigger businesses can have dozens, perhaps even hundreds of reviews in the Yelp filter. Which is why this exercise is essential.
Now there can be several reasons why these reviews have fallen victim to the Yelp filter.
- There is no user photo on the Yelp reviewer’s account.
- The Yelp reviewer has only done one or two reviews.
- The review has perhaps been considered by Yelp to be too short, or full of irrelevant details.
- The Yelp reviewer has no “friends” on Yelp.
- The review is coming from a an IP address associated with spam.
But as I explained, the Yelp filter is not perfect and it does occasionally have “false positives” (reviews it has mistakenly decided are spam or not relevant). So if you want a review out of there and into your actual page (and have its score taken into account), there is something you can do.
It’s easy to see if an account is real or spam. A real account will have a user photo, friends, ratings….generally an active account.
Next, Find The Yelp Reviewer’s Actual Yelp Review Page
For some weird reason, a person’s review does not directly link to their Yelp page. So to find their actual page, you need to search for it.
So we will take the first one in the filtered page, which is clearly a real account (user photo, 5 friends, 1 uploaded photo). Since this is a one-star review, getting it out the spam folder is going to ultimately have a negative effect on the business’ Yelp score. So if you are the business owner, you may decide to leave that one be, and focus on ones with better ratings.
But here’s the rub – you need both positive and negative reviews to give the reviews more authenticity (100% positive reviews makes it look as if you wrote them yourself). Plus, including negative reviews shows customers you’re not afraid of criticism.
To try and get the review out, go to Yelp’s “Find Friends” page. Others advocate using Google, but in my research doing this article, finding people the Google way is quite often a crapshoot. You have to sit there and go through irrelevant search listings.
Yelp’s own search function on the other hand, finds the person MUCH faster.
So add the person’s name – in this case, Anastasia K – into the search box and hit enter. And bingo, you’ve found her, with a direct link to her profile.
Friend The Reviewer & Contact Them
On the right of the listing, you will see some options. First, add them as a friend and then wait a few days. If they accept your friend request, sometimes that’s all that’s needed to pull the review out.
If it doesn’t, the other option is to contact the person (via the “Send message” link), and ask them if they would be willing to do the following :
- Connect their Yelp account with their Facebook account. In the eyes of Yelp, this validates the reviewer.
- Download and sign into the Yelp smartphone app (iOS & Android).
- Use their Yelp account to check in at some local places.
- Leave more positive and negative reviews. The more active the Yelp account, the better.
Then wait again and see if the reviews come out.
Offer An Incentive To The Reviewer
Will the reviewer be receptive to your request and do what you ask? Very likely not.
Deep down, people are extremely lazy and they may take the view you are lucky to get a review in the first place (even if it DID end up in the Yelp filter!).
But it’s a numbers game. Even if 1 reviewer in 10 did what you asked, that is still one extra review on your page. Secondly, you can increase the odds a bit by offering them an incentive. Maybe a discount voucher on their next purchase when they use your business next? It doesn’t have to be much – 10% is fine – it’s the thought that counts. People love getting free stuff.
You could say something like :
I realize you are a very busy person, so you may not have time to jump through these hoops for me. So to acknowledge your kindness in helping me out, it would be my pleasure to offer you a 10% discount on your next visit here – no strings attached.
Or words to that effect.
As I’ve said before in other Optimum Feedback articles though, you can’t make the discount dependent on a positive review. So offer the discount to all the people caught in the Yelp filter, including all the disgruntled ones who left you a one-star review (maybe give them 20% to entice them back?). Then they might even change their Yelp review to a better rating, because suddenly they are impressed with your customer outreach?
These days, you need to do everything you can to increase your review ratings. This is just one of them. It’s not a foolproof method – it relies on the kindness of strangers – but 30 minutes a week giving it a try won’t hurt.