Back in May, Commerce Kitchen created our profile on Yelp. We asked our customers to write honest reviews of our services so that businesses searching for SEO and web design in the Denver area could easily find us.
It started out great. We had one review, then two, then finally eight. Our customers were sharing their honest opinion of our services. Then we noticed that Yelp began hiding the reviews. First they hid one, then two, then six. Yes, that’s right. Currently there are only two reviews of Commerce Kitchen visible on Yelp, even though eight genuine clients reviewed us.
Super Users are people who review tons of businesses on Yelp, have several Yelp “friends,” and have a profile photo. While there’s no solid proof that Yelp only publishes reviews by Super Users, it appears to be the case.
One of the two active Commerce Kitchen reviews is by a Yelp “elite” member, someone that Yelp has awarded with extra privileges because he writes reviews relatively often. The other published review was written within the past two weeks, and while the reviewer hasn’t reviewed other businesses, she does have a profile picture. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if her review disappears soon unless she reviews additional businesses.
So why does Yelp do this? Well, they do it to keep away spammers. As we’ve seen in the SEO world, people are willing to employ some pretty shady tactics to get themselves found in search. There are probably companies out there that pay people to write hundreds of fake reviews. Yelp wants to ensure the integrity of its site, but in taking such a severe stance, are they excluding real users? The answer is yes. But do they have a choice?
The danger of accepting reviews only from Super Users is that Yelp becomes highly elitist, and the same voices become the voices for their town or industry. It eliminates the diversity of real reviewers, some of whom may choose to write one high-praise review of their favorite establishment, or one scathing review based on a bad experience.
All real reviews should be valued, but they’re not. And maybe it’s an impossible task to figure out how to filter out the spam and let the real reviews shine through, even if they’re written by newcomers to Yelp or infrequent reviewers.
The best advice we can give your business right now is to encourage your loyal clients to review multiple businesses on Yelp. Foster connections with other organizations in your area and link to each other’s Yelp profiles. This is good for reviews, but it’s also a great way to build community, which is what social media and SEO is all about!