You want to make Yelp a valuable marketing tool by encouraging your customers to use it for reviews. Of course, you recognize the risk: You’ll get a negative review from time to time. But you’re prepared to deal with that and you’ve created a plan for responding to less-than-pleasant feedback.
The problem? Your customers are leaving glowing reviews, but they’re not showing up on your Yelp page. In fact, these positive reviews are being hidden so the average visitor to your Yelp page won’t even see them. How can you get your customers’ positive reviews to show up on your page?
Why Yelp Hides Some Reviews
First, it helps to understand why Yelp doesn’t display all reviews as recommended.
One of Yelp’s biggest concerns is that it will lose its reputation among users by publishing fake reviews or ones where the reviewer has a conflict of interest. For example, if a business has three five-star reviews, but they were left by the owner’s mother, sister and next-door neighbor, they’re likely going to focus only on positive aspects. When an impartial customer goes to that business based on the positive reviews, they may experience very different treatment.
To try to avoid these situations, Yelp filters out reviews that their software identifies as suspicious. They may be perfectly legitimate reviews, but they are from first-time or new users to Yelp, or they appear to be written by someone with a conflict of interest. (Yelp will also filter out reviews that look like they were submitted from the same computer, or that seem unreasonably and overly positive or negative.) Occasionally, this can protect you from having a very negative review posted, but most of the time, it prevents good reviews from showing up.
The Cardinal Rule of Asking for Reviews
Before you go any further in creating a plan for soliciting more reviews on Yelp, you must know one very important rule. Never ask directly for reviews on Yelp. You see, Yelp doesn’t want you to do anything to compensate or reward a user for a positive review. And even asking for a positive review can put a good customer on the spot and force a less-than-accurate response.
Instead of saying, “Review us on Yelp,” you must say “Find us on Yelp.” Yelp has additional suggestions for how to let your customers know about your Yelp business page. And remember, never promise any discounts or incentives for a Yelp review. While the chances may be slim that you’ll be discovered by Yelp, a competitor may turn you in. Yelp is swift to remove your business page entirely if you’re not playing by their rules.
What You Can Do to Get Visible Reviews
Fortunately, as the owner of a local business, you can use some tactics that will help you get positive recommended reviews.
1. Seek out established Yelp users in your community.
You can use your personal account to find friends by going to your Yelp dashboard and looking on the right side of the page. You’ll see a link to your profile (by first name and last initial) at the top, and “People You May Know” underneath.
There’s a button that allows you to add these people you know as Yelp friends. From there, you can send them a message and ask them to visit your Yelp page. But wait! Some business owners are concerned that Yelp has a method for identifying these communications and prefer to use the tool simply to identify real-life acquaintances who have some experience with your business. Then, they use email, other social media or even the phone to contact them and subtly suggest that they leave a review. This may be a bit paranoid, though; Yelp doesn’t show any signs of filtering out reviews left by people who are friends.
2. Encourage your customers to create complete Yelp profiles.
If you suggest that your customers seek out your page on Yelp, you may also want to let them know the importance of having a profile on Yelp. A reviewer who has taken the time to upload a photo and some personal information, connect their profile with their Facebook account, add some friends and leave reviews is less likely to be filtered. Establish yourself as a resource for promoting local business by learning how to use Yelp properly — without, of course, directly asking for a review for your own company. This can lead to more qualified Yelp reviewers who then decide to leave feedback about you.
3. Check your filtered reviews regularly.
It may seem like great reviews that get filtered out are gone for all time, but in some cases they can become recommended. How does this happen? The Yelp user gets more established, and becomes more legitimate.
Use the information you’ve learned in steps 1 and 2 to help your reviewer get more established. Add them as a Yelp friend and send them a friendly message explaining that their review was filtered. Be sure and express your appreciation for their review, and explain that if they fill out all their information, add a photo and create more reviews that they’ll soon be considered a legitimate reviewer by Yelp. That will mean your review will be visible to all your page visitors, and they’ll have more clout on Yelp.
Taking these steps can help you get more recommended reviews on your Yelp page, which in turn encourage visitors or new residents in your community to try your great products and services. Contact us to learn more about using Yelp and other review sites to increase the effectiveness of your business marketing.