Yelping good for some. Not so good for others.
Recently I spoke with a Yelp representative about featured ads for a small business. I wanted to dig deeper into the subject about their filtered reviews. When asked about some of the filtered reviews, which by the way were legitimate in the case of the service provider being discussed, the Yelp representative stated that Yelps algorithms look for reviews from first time Yelpers and flag them as solicited if there is no other activity from the Yelper who wrote the review. They don’t do this right a way but when there is no log on activity from the reviewer within a given time frame they will be flagged. This is usually under thirty days.
When Yelp’s system determines that a review appears to be solicited they will filter them out. They do however remain visible, you just have to click on the link and prove you are organic and not a bot. The reviews that are filter are not factored into the rating system formula, but some very good reviews are being filtered along with some really questionable ones.
I for one can generally tell if a review is from a solicited source or an attempt by a family member or friend to help a business look better. Most businesses will solicit reviews from their customers, because the current marketing trend is moving them to do so. If you do any kind of Internet marketing you may well know that online reviews can have a big impact on your business, both beneficial as well as damaging. There have even been some recent lawsuits regarding some negative reviews on one of the leading review sites.
One of the things that have me puzzled is Yelps stance on first time Yelpers who leave reviews. Businesses who ask their customers to leave reviews about their services or offerings are actually assisting Yelp in getting traffic to their site. This improves their world wide traffic ranking and helps them gain position in the search engine rankings as well. As a businessman if someone where to assist me in getting exposure for a business I would welcome there assistance and not penalize them for sending potential customers my way.
It is my opinion that Yelp should focus on those reviews that are highly questionable and not just on the user who may never visit their site again simply because it is not of any interest to them. Many people just don’t fall into the Yelper category. Yelp still has a long way to go before they get it right.
Now on a positive, Yelp is helping legitimate businesses that care about what they have to offer by letting the public have a voice when it comes to less then honest businesses or those that could use some help improving their customer service or the quality of their product. In this way Yelp is proving to be a public service website. By letting customers have a voice and inform others of their experience with a business. People now have a way of digesting what others have to say about a particular restaurant, hair salon or auto mechanic. We can now get instant feed back on a business based on what others have said. This is something the Better Business Bureau should have been doing long ago. I have always questioned the source information from any organization that requires membership fees, or directs you to their member only lists.
The bottom line here is that Yelp is a very useful site and serves a public interest in addition to their business model. Business owners should be claiming their businesses and working the reviews on their business. At the very least, monitor what your customers are saying about your company and take the appropriate action. Over the years I have found that if one person speaks out, there are generally ten others that remain silent with the same issue.
What was it that our mothers use to teach us? “If you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.” Well Mom, sorry but I just have to disagree with you on this one.
By Edward Sledge