Shopping with Yelp access

Most online reputation management firms will tell you that one negative online review isn’t the end of the world for your business. But an article pushed out by Moz recently might shift that thinking.

Measuring the Impact of Yelp Reviews

The author of this particular article reached out to 1,000 customers, asking about all sorts of different online behaviors. And there was one question that was really revolutionary. Here, the author asked people how many negative articles they needed to see before they decided to look for a different product or a different company.

Most of these customers didn’t look past the first page of search results, so most were looking at links that popped to the top. And that means they were looking at links pushed out by Yelp.

About 60 percent of these readers said they’d look for a new product or company if they saw three negative pieces on their searches.

That’s not too surprising. If your front page is full of negativity, about half of your customers will take notice and walk away. You probably know that already.

But here’s the interesting tidbit: About 22 percent of these people would continue a search if they found just one negative thing.

You read that right: Just one negative article or review could cost you almost a quarter of your market share.

Poor ORM Solutions

The article writer goes on to say that businesses should keep their first page free of negativity at all costs. It sounds like good advice, but it’s a task that most businesses will struggle to complete.

Do you think you can write blog articles that rank better than Yelp’s page? Do you think your participation in local community events will get you news that will beat out Yelp? Think again.

Yelp is a nationwide site with numbers most people can only dream about. That means it’s difficult or impossible for anyone to write anything that does better than Yelp. Keeping your front page clear without dealing with Yelp is a non-starter.

And if you thought of hiring someone to write up great reviews for your business, that’s another losing proposition.

Earlier this summer, Yelp started flagging suspicious reviews with “consumer alerts” that contained all sorts of nasty insinuations and accusations. Those notes are even more damning than negative reviews, as they seem to suggest that business owners are frauds and cheats. Never, ever write fake reviews now that you know this could happen to you.

Better Reputation Management Choices

So what can you do? Become familiar with the ins and outs of the Yelp terms of service. Figure out what sorts of reviews violate the guidelines, and when you spot those articles, notify the Yelp powers that be. Here are just a few examples of reviews you could flag:

  • Comments that mention a specific date or time in which your business isn’t open. If a customer complains about your “Sunday brunch service,” and you’re not open on Sundays at all, that’s a clear violation. It suggests this reviewer didn’t interact with your company at all.
  • Complaints about products you don’t make (and haven’t made in the past).
  • Concerns about staff members you can’t identify. If someone complains, for example, about your “snarky hostess” and you don’t have a hostess, you’re likely dealing with fraud.
  • Comments about interactions your staff can’t verify. If a consumer disses an interaction with a nasty employee, and you can’t find an employee that remembers that specific interaction on that date, flag the comment.

You get the idea.

Once you understand what sorts of comments the Yelp team will remove, you can be an expert at clearing your page of negativity. And you can augment that work by enticing your loyal customers to write good reviews.

Sure, this takes work. But clearly, there’s a lot at stake, when it comes to negative Yelp reviews. So you simply must do something. The time to start is now.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles via

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