Are Yelp Reviews Real?

There are many review sites out there and on the top of that list is Yelp. I recently spoke to a business acquaintance of mine who insisted that she had applied to Yelp to write reviews for them. Listening to her, the alarm bells immediately went off. Writing fake reviews is a black hat technique used to attempt to sway future consumers to believe that a company is better (or worse) than it really is. Hiring companies or individuals to write reviews is the equivalent of false advertising. It is also illegal. Of course, I wanted to verify this information so I called my Yelp account manager. He confirmed what I already knew. Yelp does NOT hire people to write fake reviews.

People often get concerned, and rightfully so, when someone writes a bad review, especially because it near impossible to remove them from your Yelp profile. Sometimes there are disgruntled employees, a customer that didn’t get their way, and sometimes you just deserve that bad review.

No one wants a bad review. One of the reasons why people use review sites, such as Yelp, is because of their authenticity. Yelp prides itself on “Real People. Real Reviews”. They actually have systems in place to identify fake reviews (good and bad) and take them down. They take actions in order to remain credible. Despite their efforts, they cannot stop every single fake review from being posted, nor immediately identify companies that hire people to write fake reviews. That takes time. Also, they are not psychic. Think about it, if you had to manage tens of millions of profiles, it might take you a little time to identify real reviews from fake ones too.

So all that being said, what can you do when someone writes a bad review about your business? Here are a few tips:

  1. Is it a fake review? If so, scroll to the bottom of the review and click on the little gray flag so you can report it. Fill out the information and they will research it. If they find that it is in fact a fake review, they will delete it. Don’t get your hopes up though. It’s a pretty stringent process and they have to be sure it’s fake before they will delete it.
  2. If you have not so already, claim your page. If you don’t, it will be much more difficult to identify when people interact – regardless if it’s positively or negatively. Plus, you will have access to information about the people that are clicking on your business.
  3. Yelp advises NOT to ask for reviews. Crazy, huh? The thought process behind that is that it is human nature to ask for reviews from happy customers. (That’s not to say you can never ask for reviews either). You would never ask an unhappy customer to write a review, would you? By only asking happy customers for reviews, the authenticity dwindles. Rather than ask for reviews, you should have links on your website, newsletter, social platforms, and even a sign by your register or waiting area. This way everyone that walks through your doors knows to check you out on Yelp.
  4. Finally, respond to the reviews. If someone is unhappy with your services, address the issue in the most diplomatic, professional way you can muster. Do not take it personally. There are many factors that contribute to someone’s mood and reactions. By addressing the issue, you might identify a problem within your company that you were unaware of or potentially win the customer back. When new Yelpers check out your reviews and see that you made the attempt to rectify the situation, they may want to do business with you despite it.

From my personal experience, I wrote a negative review after visiting a dining establishment. I was overcharged, the service was terrible, and I felt quite frustrated about the experience. However, the manager contacted almost immediately after reading my review and took steps to rectify the situation. I ended updating my review with a better rating. Why? Because he provided a higher level of customer service. Would I go back again? Yes, I would. I am not the only Yelper who is willing to update a review after the owner or manager has taken the necessary steps to amend the situation.

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