As one of the original review sites, Yelp continues to be one of the most important places a business can try to get more reviews on.
Yelp reviews can be hard to come by and difficult to generate from your customers. In fact, sometimes it may feel like you're doing everything right and only the negative Yelp reviews are showing up.
Over the years, Yelp has been the source of quite a bit of controversy among business owners.
Despite every effort, some business owners just can't seem to figure out Yelp reviews and thus develop a strong negative sentiment towards Yelp.
These business owners struggle with how to get more Yelp reviews, how to manage negative reviews and how to make sure the dreaded "Yelp filter" doesn't bury any golden five star reviews.
On the other hand, there are many businesses out there that swear by Yelp as their primary source of new customers for their business.
So, love 'em or hate 'em, Yelp is a major player in the online review game and need to have a strategy to get more Yelp reviews over time.
The truth is Yelp reviews can be really hard to come by for several reasons:
- Many people don't have a Yelp account
so when they try to leave you a review there, they will first be forced to create an account. Forcing your customer to create a Yelp account prior to leaving you a review is a sure fire way to ensure the review never gets posted. Which leads to #2...
- Often times, users create new accounts to leave a Yelp review
which causes Yelp to believe that the review may not be authentic, genuine, or from a real customer (instead of a biased friend or family member). Yelp simply sees that a brand new account was created and then the account's first review was quickly left for your business with not much other activity afterward. Which leads to #3...
- Yelp's "review filter" is notorious for burying 5 star reviews
when it suspects the review is fake, the reviewer isn't a "credible Yelper", or if the reviewer's behavior is mimicking that of an automated bot. Unfortunately many business owners feel that Yelp's review filter unfairly bury's all their good, 5-star review while not filtering out any of the bad 1 or 2-star reviews.
Yes, I know. I pretty much immediately contradicted the whole point of this article right there. But wait, hear me out...
Because of everything we just mentioned about how hard Yelp reviews can be to come by, it may not even make sense to generate Yelp reviews right away.
Why you ask?
- Your Google reviews are non-existent or really poor -
Although Yelp reviews are great, Google reviews could very well be the first thing people see about your business. Since the vast majority of searches for local businesses start on Google, it is likely the first thing anyone ever sees is your business listing and your reviews (see the screen shots below). If you don't have any Google reviews, or your Google reviews are poor you could be better served building up your five star reviews here first.
- Your Facebook reviews are non-existent or really poor -
The same thing goes for Facebook. With nearly 2 billion (yes billion with a "B") users everyone is on Facebook, and they are spending quite a bit of time there as well. Seeing that nearly everyone already has a Facebook page, why not just go where your customers are? It can be an easy place to get more reviews simply becuase everyone already has an account and they are likely already logged in on their phone through the Facebook app, thus you can eliminate the need to "login" during the review process making it easier for them to actually submit a review.
- You currently don't have a Yelp page for your business -
Don't have a Yelp business page yet? You may want to consider keeping it that way for a bit (not forever, just a bit). Because of how difficult it can be to generate reviews on Yelp, and Yelp's review filter, it is perfectly reasonable to focus on Google and Facebook reviews first until you've built up a solid reputation on those sites. Once you have a decent number of reviews on Google and Facebook with a quality star rating, you can then make the decision to create and claim you Yelp business listing.
Ok, so by now you've decided to generate more Yelp reviews
. Although you may have the best intentions and don't feel like you're doing anything wrong, chances are you may be violating Yelps published review guidelines without even knowing it.
More specifically, here is what you should be aware of:
- Technically speaking, if you want Yelp Reviews
, then Yelp doesn't want you asking your customers for them.
- You can't offer a discount or promotion in exchange for a review
. In fact, in some cases it may even be illegal to do so.
- Don't have your staff compete for more reviews
So what can
- Ask your customers for feedback
on their experience. By doing so, you aren't directly asking for a review, you are simply asking for their feedback, at which point you could let them become aware of the different sites your business is listed on, which may or may not include Yelp.
- Make is easy for your customers to leave you a review on multiple different sites
. By giving your customer multiple different options you aren't specifically asking for a Yelp review. You are simply presenting them with a few different places they can leave you feedback.
- Actively monitor your Yelp reviews as they start to come in
- Make sure you've setup review alerts so the right members of your team are getting notified when positive or negative feedback comes in. Since customer service is not public for everyone to see online, it is important that you and your staff are quick to respond to all types of reviews for your business.
So what is a "Credible Yelper" anyway and why should you care?
You should care becuase as you understand by now, generating reviews can be hard. Many times you only get one shot at getting your customer to leave you a review.
What if your customer takes the time to find your Yelp listing, create an account, and craft the most well thought out review of your business only to have it filtered out by Yelp?
You've likely lost your one and only chance to that customer's review posted online. It is highly unlikely they will come back and try again, or re-post it on another site.
If you had a strategy in place to ensure only credible Yelpers make it that far, maybe that exact same user would have left they shining five star review for your business on another site like Google or Facebook.
Credible Yelpers are people that:
- Have an established Yelp account (not one that was just recently opened)
- Have left several reviews for other businesses in the past (not just one review for your business)
- Leave real, authentic reviews on Yelp for businesses that they have actually gone to (instead of a history of only leaving 5 star reviews or 1 star reviews)
The more someone exhibits this type of behavior on Yelp, the less likely the dreaded Yelp Filter will pop-up and filter their review. After all, someone that fits 1-3 above is very likely to leave real, genuine reviews vs. fake or paid-for reviews.
So what can you do to ensure only credible Yelpers try to leave you a review on Yelp?
- Just like we mentioned above, make sure you give your customers options
for review sites that are important for your business. Customers that don't have a Yelp account will be more likely to choose a different option for writing you a review on a different site that they already have an account on.
- Make sure one of the options you show your customers is Facebook.
With the vast majority of people already signed up for Facebook, there is even less "friction" in the review process for people that choose to leave you a review here.
- When presenting the sites that are important to your business, put Yelp at the bottom of the list
. It may seem harsh, but it works. By simply mentioning Yelp last, you will give your customers the opportunity to choose another place to write you a review first. For example, if you were to present your customers with Google, Facebook and Yelp in that order a customer that doesn't have a Google account (gMail) will likely skip over Google and pick Facebook (chances are they have a Facebook account). On the other hand, a credible Yelper may go out of their way to overlook the first two choices (Google and Yelp) and go right to leaving you a Yelp review.