We’ve seen this situation a hundred times: you’re looking at your Yelp listing one day, and everything is going great. Happy customers are sharing their experiences with your company, broadcasting your flawless reputation to the world. The next time you check, your positive reviews are gone and even worse, an unsightly negative review or two have appeared without warning. Your positive reviews are now way below the fold, caught by the Yelp Reviews Filter.

What can you do? Whether you like it or not, Yelp is going to create a profile for your company and some of your customers will find it. With the right strategy, though, you can transform that profile from a liability into an asset.

Yelp developed an automated software system to filter out “suspicious” reviews based on criteria that they hold pretty close to the chest. This system is not 100% accurate in determining legitimate versus fake reviews. In fact, Yelp filters reviews aggressively, with more than 25% of all reviews being filtered. And more likely than not, that’s the reason you’re here. Your reviews from legitimate customers, folks who you worked very hard to impress, are not being displayed to potential new customers on your Yelp profile. We know how frustrating it is, as this is a common setback when a new client starts with our digital marketing services.

There is good news! You can improve your results, but first you need to understand the problem.

First, Yelp explains their system in a quick 2 minute video:

So, Yelp does not give many details into what it considers a legitimate, relevant review. People you know are preferred. People Yelp knows are preferred. Beyond that, Yelp’s explanation does not really help a business owner, and it’s not meant to. Yelp is secretive about its reviews filter because it doesn’t want those shady operators out there to reverse engineer it and abuse the system. However, as a business owner, you should know how the filter works – so that you can make sure your legitimate customers are getting through.

How To Get Legitimate Reviews Listed:

Luckily, our Account Managers have extensive experience managing Yelp profiles for our partner companies. Here is a quick, 4-step guide to improving your reputation on Yelp. If your reviewers follow these guidelines, you should see fewer of your hard-earned 5-star reviews being caught in the filter trap.

  • 1) Be known in the community – ask your customers to write multiple reviews for businesses they shop at or do business with.
  • 2) Ask your customers to complete their profiles. A profile with pictures is better than one without.
  • 3) Make friends! Ask your customers to add a friend or two. You may never have heard of Yelp’s social features, but Yelp takes them seriously in their filtering algorithm.
  • 4) Go long – short reviews, the sort you could get on the spot by handing a customer an iPad at the end of the sales demonstration, are going to be heavily filtered. Ask your customer to spend a minute extra and write you a longer recommendation so that their opinion is heard.

What can I do as a business owner?

Now, this can be hard – after all, your customers are already doing you a big favor by reviewing you at all. You should definitely encourage them to write that review in a way where it will be heard and shared on Yelp. But, you can also take steps on your side to help keep legitimate reviews from being filtered.

  • 5) Send a message to your reviewers. Thank them if they’re happy, resolve their issue if they are not. You should be doing this 100% of the time anyway, as part of your reputation management strategy, but it will improve your filter results as well.
  • 6) Be friendly! Friend your reviewers. First, it’s a nice gesture. Second, it solves that problem of your reviewers not having any friends on Yelp and looking suspicious to the filter as a result.
  • 7) Get out there and vote – if a review is funny, vote for it being funny. If it’s useful or cool, vote on that, too! Reviews with votes (and other signals of user interaction) tend to not be filtered.

So, there you have it! Now that you know how the Yelp Filter works, you can help your customers get their legitimate views heard on the Yelp platform. Of course, Yelp is only one part of a comprehensive reviews management strategy. At Spectrum, we have all the software tools and know-how you need to perfect your online reputation. Once your Yelp listing takes off and your positive reviews are being broadcast to a world of potential customers, have a look at our other tips on reputation management.