Does Yelp Think Your Reviews Are Spam?

Does Yelp Think Your Reviews Are Spam?

Online reviews are difficult to get, even on sites strictly geared towards review generation like Yelp. And when it is essential to collect positive online reviews to acquire new patients, it can be tempting to solicit reviews from your existing patient database. However, according to Yelp, business owners should not request reviews. Instead, they should simply ask them to “check us out on Yelp.”

In mid-May, Yelp issued another round of Consumer Alerts which appear on a business’ Yelp page informing users that they’re not to be trusted. Yelp is not only discouraging local business owners, like chiropractors ,dentists and doctors, from requesting reviews, they are actively seeking to discredit the businesses they believe are guilty of having fake reviews.

Yelp Consumer Alerts for Fraudulent Business Reviews

According to Yelp’s Kristen Whisenand, “Unfortunately some businesses are trying to sneak through fake reviews in an effort to boost their reputations on Yelp and other review sites. Others may be encouraging their customers to write reviews from the store, which may not sound all that bad until you ask yourself just how objective you’d be if you were at the dentist’s office and she dropped an iPad on your lap and asked you to write her a quick Yelp review. Solicited reviews are often biased and don’t result in the most accurate overall portrayal of that business. You can also be assured that businesses are almost never asking their unhappy customers for reviews.”

When it comes to spammy or fake reviews, one of the biggest factors indicating fraudulent reviews is a disproportionate number of reviews from the same IP address. While this does not always indicate fraudulent reviews, think of how often you utilize a Starbucks IP address, for a lot of businesses, it can be a good signal that, even if reviews are not fraudulent, they may be from patients who feel obligated to leave a positive review.

Yelp also discourages businesses from asking for reviews because they feel that would-be patients might not trust you since no business pleases 100% of their patients and solicited reviews are less likely to be recommended by their automated software. According to Yelp’s VP of Corporate Communication, “we have a zero tolerance for those who are trying to manipulate their online reputations in an effort to get ahead.” Why – because they want to ensure that Yelp users continue to find reviews on Yelp reliable.

Yelp encourages businesses to take a hands-off approach when it comes to receiving reviews. They encourage business owners to simply invite patients to “check us out on Yelp” so your patients don’t feel obligated to leave a review. But where is the benefit to your patient or to you by simply inviting patients to view your online reputation.

A different strategy, to combat Yelps fear of soliciting reviews from only happy patients, would be sending automated emails to all of your patients asking for their honest feedback on a review site like Yelp. With this strategy, you combat both of Yelp’s biggest concerns: reviews from the same IP address and only soliciting positive reviews. As a result, your business will generate positive, neutral and negative reviews from different IP addresses which will not prompt Yelp’s Consumer Alert sticker to be posted on your Yelp business page. Additionally, a mixture of positive and negative reviews (especially if you respond appropriately to negative reviews), adds credibility to all of the positive reviews.

What are your thoughts on Yelp’s review policies? What strategies have worked for you to generate authentic reviews?

About Alan Moore: Alan started his career in 1999 as an Marketing Consultant and is the owner of Over the years, he has migrated his focus of expertise to everything digital. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $3,600,000 in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call to schedule a Free Online Marketing Consultation for your practice.

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