Are you the owner of a small business and are pissed off that Yelp won’t publish your customer’s positive reviews? Join the group. A growing list of small business owners are up in arms since they’ve realized that Yelp is filtering out their positive reviews yet publishing every bad review.

Why Should You Care?

With over 90% of people using search engines as their 1st step to research your company and products, online ratings and review websites like Yelp are becoming more and more critical to your success; whether you know it or not.

  • 7/10 consumers trust the opinions of unknown reviewers on these trusted sites
  • 67% of consumers use online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business
  • More than 60% of consumers 55 years old and younger consult online reviews
  • source: DVXMarketing Infographic

But why do legitimate positive reviews rarely make it past Yelp’s filter and get included in their ratings?

When someone searches for your company’s name on Google, one of the top results is almost always Although there are several thousand review sites out there, the leading ones are Four Square, Yahoo Local, Angies List, City Search, Google Places, Urban Review, Trip Advisor, Open Table, and of course the most popular of them all, Yelp. All these sites in essence are very similar with certain ones branching out to different specialties.

Yelp, Four Square and Google Places are three of the most popular review sites reviewing everything from restaurants to industrial machinery companies. So acquiring good, honest and positive reviews is critical to your company’s success and reputation.

Some background about Yelp

Yelp is the leading review site on the web. It was founded in October of 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and has become a quasi-report card for businesses around the globe. They get over 53 million unique visitors per month and over 20 million reviews (source: Mashable). It is no surprise that businesses want a strong positive presence on Yelp and so should you!

When they first started, their review filters were generic and weak. This lead to many business owners boasting hundreds of great reviews about their own business and slandering their competition. Their review filter today is a different beast. It takes into account many different variables to weed out the true reviews from the fake ones.

Why Are You Filtering My Good Reviews??!!

So why does it seem like most of the positive reviews are filtered out while all the negative reviews show up immediately?

The Dreaded Established User

Yelp remains tight lipped about their review filter, but a common denominator seems to be reviews made by established users. It seems that the key to getting good reviews to stick is to make sure they come from established users. So what is an established user?

The established user is becoming the strong pawn across the board on review sites. The more time, information and personal touch a user gives their own personal account on these review sites, the more “established” Yelp views their profile.

But Yelp will not tell you their guidelines on what makes an established user. On the official Yelp blog they state “We’re purposely not elaborate about all the variables that go into defining an “established” user, because it’s a Catch-22: the more descriptive we are about what makes an established user, the less effective our filter is at fighting shills and malicious content.” Source: Yelp’s official blog

Yelp’s Integration with Facebook and Apple IOS Devices

Facebook Integration with Yelp

With the addition of the Facebook Beacon integration in December 2007, data from Yelp’s user accounts can now be sent to Facebook allowing users to share their activities and reviews. This opened a new huge avenue to business owners. Due to this strategic integration by Facebook, business owners not only could have the blessing of good reviews from Yelp, but also the ability for those users who wrote good reviews to syndicate that review to all their social network friends.

Via, the average number of facebook friends of 25-43 year olds is 273 friends per account. This math adds up quick for business owners who now have caught on and most well marketed sites present a call to action asking customers to write a review on Yelp and socialize it.

Now with the visible social integration, Yelp’s “established” users who have integrated their Facebook accounts are favored over the average Joe who signed up quick just to say “I liked the pizza.” We may never know the exact variables that make up an “established” Yelp user but one can assume that the more you commit to Yelp and put into it, the more established and trusted you are, much like life.

IOS 6 Maps Integration with Yelp

Yelp mobile reviews for iPhone Maps

It was announced on September 21st, 2012 with the announcement of the Iphone 5 and new IOS 6 operating system that Yelp would be integrated into Apple’s new Maps app. If you thought Facebook was a game changer for Yelp well this is the cherry on top. Now iPhone and iPad users as well as previous generations that will update to the new IOS 6 will have Yelp streamlined into their maps app.

Apple maps users will be able to access snippets of Yelp reviews all directly in their map. Within the app as users are looking for their destination or just a place to eat, the app shows restaurants, stores and more with small pins. Once a user clicks a pin the Yelp review plus how many stars it has appears and users can go deeper and open up to find more photos, information and of course reviews. With Apple products having a huge share of the mobile and tablet markets, this opens not just the social window but the vast mobile avenue for Yelp.

G-d help us!

If you’d like to learn how seo4anyone is working with local businesses to improve their Yelp ratings and reviews check out the main pages of our site. You can find more information on our SEO for Small Business page.

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