Yelp’s New Consumer Alert Flags Paid Reviews

Last week, we talked about several websites that are paramount to running a successful marketing campaign. One of these sites, Yelp.com, is utilized not only by law firms, but businesses nationwide. However, a common—and frowned upon—practice that many businesses participate in is paying writers for positive Yelp reviews.

On Wednesday, Yelp will begin cracking down on these users with a new feature called Consumer Alerts, which will warn users which reviews have been paid for.

One of the biggest appeals of Yelp is the authenticity of its reviews, meaning that clients are giving honest, unadulterated assessments. The point of Yelp is diluted, then, if businesses start paying customers to give them “good” reviews.

The Consumer Alerts will launch today. As Yelp detects questionable activity, the company will contact businesses that Yelp believes paid for reviews. The reviewers themselves will also be alerted. In addition to these methods, Yelp will post a Consumer Alert on the profiles, which will remain there for 90 days or until the business makes an active effort to redeem itself.

In Yelp’s blog post announcing these alerts, the company says they “want to make sure consumers are making informed decisions. Yelp’s automatic review filter is working around the clock to flag these types of biased reviews.”

We understand the draw of Yelp, and why businesses might be tempted to pay for reviews. But the practice isn’t just cheap, it’s petty. Why not run a good business, and inspire your clients to give good reviews?

Here are some tips on how to get positive reviews on Yelp the organic way.

  • Ask your clients to write a reviews. This may come as a surprise, but your clients will be more than willing to write a positive review. When they walk away happy after receiving one of your services, mention that you’re on Yelp and ask them to take five minutes of their day to write about their experience.
  • Provide excellent customer service. Customer service can make or break a business. Instead of talking about what great service you have, show your customers what you can do for them.
  • Guide clients to your Yelp page. Make it easy for clients to access your profile. That means including a link to Yelp on your website, in any e-newsletters, or on your social media sites. Your clients are willing to give you positive reviews on Yelp as long as they know you’re on there.
  • Create incentives in exchange for positive reviews. Yelp has a feature called “Yelp Deals.” It is one of the biggest draws of the site, because clients who submit reviews are given exclusive coupons. It might be an option to consider for your business.
  • Don’t overdo it. No one likes an over-aggressive salesman. If you have an excellent business that provides stellar customer service, it shouldn’t be that difficult for your clients to leave happy. Don’t overwhelm your clients with requests for Yelp reviews. Instead, provide great service, and let your actions speak for themselves.