Several years ago a new client unbeknownst to me leaves a very positive review for me on Yelp. This is how I first discovered this business rating web site. Over the following years many of my clients also left very positive reviews. At one point there were 30 reviews all with a five star rating. It was at this point I received a phone call from a Yelp sales Rep. She was trying to persuade me that for a mere $300 a month she could increase my business. As with all paid advertising I refused. A day later I received a phony request in my e-mail from a supposed yelp reader. Within days all of my positive reviews had disappeared leaving only two out of the 30. For my category business I had by far the most reviews. Where did my reviews go? Who had deleted them? It was at this time that I decided to do some investigation. It turns out that Yelp works in very mysterious ways. After refusing to purchase advertising, Yelp decided that the vast majority of my reviews were bogus. Either placed there by myself or by friends family or whoever.
It seems that I’m not the only one that feels this way. This has become such an obvious problem and garnered so much attention that it is now a major headline. I have received business from people who believe Yelp is a legitimate place of creditable reviews. Yelp.com set itself up as the premier social based review site and wields a great deal of power because of that. This website has punished myself and apparently tens of thousands of other businesses who refuse to be forced to pay. When a client takes the time to write a review for Google or Yellow pages those companies do not tamper with it.
I believe most people have no idea how yelp actually works. As an individual your review is only considered of value if you participate on a very regular basis. Taking the time to write a single review once a year constitutes you as worthless in the eyes of Yelp. Yelp considers itself a social web site and it appears to have some kind of a pecking order. The more reviews you post the more power you have. It’s not uncommon to see reviewers with 600 or more posts. These ego maniacs and apparently there quite a few can make or break a business.
What has to happen in order to make Yelp trustworthy is a revolution by its customer base. If the revenue stream stops on Yelp it will have to change. All businesses must stop paying advertising fees immediately. And demand that yelp offers full transparency on how it does its business. Businesses must be allowed to respond in writing to negative reviews as it is quite clear many of these are generated falsely. To guarantee the validity of any review it can no longer be left anonymous. All reviewers must be confirmed just like Greg’s list is attempting to do. It is not Yelp’s responsibility unless requested to be involved in any of the reviews. Best thing yet to be for Yelp to disappear as it is clear it is corrupt on every single level.