How Yelp's Review Filter Works

Oct 2015

Many business owners know that Yelp can be a powerful asset for attracting customers. An enthusiastic review of your product or service can make the difference in whether a consumer chooses you. And, depending on your demographic, a large portion of your potential customer base will probably do research online before they spend their hard-earned cash.

So, what’s a frustrated business owner to do when Yelp’s elusive review filter steps in and makes seemingly random decisions to filter out legitimate, positive reviews that you want included in your rating? The first step is to understand how the filter works.

Though Yelp has yet to disclose exactly how their filter works, there are basic rules that will help you understand their process. The filter is designed to detect spam, disparagement from competitors, paid reviews, unfair retaliation, and reviews from fake profiles. Yelp can detect when a specific user is creating an unusual number of reviews or when multiple reviews are created for your business from the same IP address and will generally filter those out.

The most important part of the filter equation, however, is Yelp users themselves. Users build credibility through the number of reviews they have given, so ratings from experienced members are more likely to show up. Users lose credibility by consistently posting overwhelmingly positive or negative reviews. Reviews from brand new profiles, incomplete profiles, profiles with very few reviews, and reviews from people outside your geographic area are also the most susceptible to being filtered. Yelp may also filter out reviews from other local users that it identifies as your competitors.

Yelp’s filter is genuinely designed to protect your business from harmful reviews and to create a fair and honest platform for consumers to relate their experiences; but it’s far from perfect. Users can still read filtered reviews, but they do not affect your overall rating and are not frequently looked at. The good news is that there are steps that you and your customers can take to increase the number of positive reviews that make it through the filter.

The most important thing you can do is to interact with your reviewers. This means adding them as friends, sending them messages and responding to their reviews. Make sure your Yelp profile is complete with pictures, and connected to your business’s Facebook page, and invite people to connect with you. Review other local businesses honestly, and vote their reviews as “funny” or “helpful.” Ask your best customers to leave reviews through the Yelp mobile app, and ask them to review other local businesses. Anything you and your customers can do to establish a relationship and build a history with Yelp will work in your favor.

Though building up feedback on Yelp takes time and patience, these tips will help create the connections and credibility that Yelp favors and ultimately help you get the good feedback that your business deserves.


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