Several weeks ago we blogged about “super users” on Yelp: these are individuals who Yelp ordains with extra importance when they review businesses. We thought we had it figured out. Only reviews from people with more than one review, a profile picture, and/or Yelp friends would be published.
However, after doing some more research this week, we realized that Yelp is filtering dozens of real reviews of our clients alone, probably thousands of reviews in total. And some of these reviews are written by Yelpers who fit the “super user” profile we thought we had identified. This can be very frustrating for businesses that aren’t reviewed as frequently as restaurants, but who still want internet users to know about their clients’ genuine experiences–both good and bad.
Yelp’s issue with filtering real reviews is discouraging for business owners, but it’s also a detriment to Yelp itself. Business owners drive traffic to Yelp, and Yelp benefits immensely from this traffic. Last week alone we sent emails to several hundred individuals, pointing them toward our various clients’ Yelp listings. It’s like we’re doing Yelp’s job for it!
But after seeing what happens when our customers spend time writing reviews on Yelp, I’ve decied to focus instead on getting Google reviews. At least until Yelp gets their algorithm figured out.
I believe that reviews should be genuine, and that a business owner should never pay for them just to inflate their own rankings. However, encouraging your clients to review you is completely ethical; so many of us rely on referrals for our customer base, and public reviews are an extension of the referral network.
As we’ve said before, the number of reviews you have can improve your local rankings, and we still encourage everyone to let their customers know how and where they can review your business. On a personal level I’ve always enjoyed Yelp, but I feel that until they fix their algorithm, I don’t really want to give them my business.
For a restaurant owner’s experience with filtered reviews, check out this great blog from Hussong’s Cantina in Las Vegas.