Avoid Getting Reviews Blocked by the Yelp Filters and Understanding Yelp’s Recommendation Software
As the most used business review site in the U.S., Yelp has established itself as the “go to” site when a consumer wants to research a new small business. As a business owner, you know the importance of Yelp reviews and building a positive online reputation. You may have also experienced the frustration of missing or losing a good review you know was submitted due to Yelp filters.
Understand first that Yelp does not delete reviews and employees can’t decide which reviews get shown. That is the Yelp recommendation software at work filtering the millions of reviews submitted into two categories:
- Recommended reviews that visibly rank on your business page.
- Not currently recommended reviews hidden behind a grayed out link at the bottom of your business page.
Why Yelp Filters are a Good Thing
Yelp is a leader in the industry because they give people what want: authentic star-rated reviews. To stay authentic (and ahead of people trying to game the system) Yelp has recommendation software that in it’s complicated and secret way keeps fake reviews from showing in business review results. If you had a good review disappear or get blocked by the filter, it is an unfortunate casualty in the war against fake reviews. The Yelp filters may have mislabeled your good review as possible spam, but that same software also protects you from competitors using made up profiles and angry customers looking to flood your business with low-star reviews. Good or bad, reviews filtered into non-recommended status are not taken into account when calculating your overall review average.
Yelp filters and the review recommendation software are not disclosed in any meaningful manner. Per Yelp! Blog there is a reason for that:
“We’re purposely not elaborate about all the variables that go into defining an ‘established’ user because it’s a Catch-22: the more descriptive we are about what makes an established user, the less effective our filter is at fighting shills and malicious content.”
However, through best-practices, user comments, and Yelp’s support center there is information out there that can help you get your reviews through the Yelp filters.
Getting Good Reviews Through Yelp Filters
Yelp recommendation software runs on an algorithm that has a standard of rules that establish a user and a review as an authentic submission. In other words, there is a value given to everything from how complete the user profile is to how many words are in a review and when you add them all up the algorithm has either recommended a review or sent it behind the scenes where it will not affect Yelp users’ opinions of a business.
You can’t bypass the algorithm. According to Yelp, their own employees cannot manually override the software. However, you can greatly raise the odds of getting your good reviews past the Yelp filters by knowing some of the factors that could get your review flagged and exiled to “not recommended” pile where good reviews go to die.
Factors that could get a review stuck in the Yelp filters:
- Reviewer has an incomplete profile without a photo or additional information.
- Reviewer is an inactive user, one-time user, or first-time reviewer
- Very short reviews lacking details like “Best pizza!!!” or “This place sucks!”
- Strongly slanted or biased positively or negatively
- Posted from an IP location very far from the business even though it could be someone who came through on vacation
- Reviews from the same IP address which is why a Yelp review kiosk or tablet at your business could look like spam or fake reviews
- An unprecedented flood of reviews will look like review spam even though it may have been you just sent a mass email asking for reviews for the first time today
The Yelp Filters are looking only at the user submitting a review and the content of that review, and not the business itself. As the business owner, you have no control over who leaves a review and what they say. Having an understanding of what makes a better reviewer and review, you will know how to answer questions like “Why doesn’t my review show up on Yelp?” and “I don’t know how to use Yelp. How do I start?”
Tips on what makes a great Yelp reviewer and review:
- Reviewers who have connected their Facebook
- Reviewers who have downloaded the Yelp app and use it to “check in” around town.
- Reviewers who have several detailed reviews of both positive and negative experiences.
- Reviewers who have Yelp friends and engage with reviews by marking them as useful, funny, or cool.
- Reviews that go beyond one experience to leave helpful tips for future customers.
Yelp is Important to the Success of Your Business
As a key player in building your online reputation, Yelp can help you expand your consumer base and reach new customers. If you don’t have a review management process in place, you are gambling with one of your most precious assets. Our reputation marketing platform provides an automated method to gather feedback from your customers after the sale, routing unsatisfied customers back to your business for customer service and your best reviews to review sites like Yelp to leave positive ratings. Our platform can’t fix your filtered reviews, but they can help you build a five-star reputation by ensuring only the best reviews are consistently post to the review sites that matter most.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)