Have you been challenged by Yelp business review issues? Yelp reviews continue to be shrouded in hatred controversy among business owners. No matter if you build a new business or purchase an existing one, your company will eventually end up on a review site.
If you have a physical retail or service business address you will be listed on Yelp whether you want your business listed there or not. Welcome to the “dictatorship” of Yelp. Just like the almighty ruler Kim Jong-il of the “great Communist Country of North Korea” can, Yelp appears to get away with the alleged murder of great American businesses. And it’s happening on U.S. soil! Yelp has been a thorn in the side of many small business owners for many years.
You will have no choice over this issue, and it can be very frustrating when you notice unfounded, unjust bad reviews start popping up online. Even if you buy a business and change the name of the company, your location will still show up on these review websites.
So, it is very hard to make a fresh start when you are dealing with negative reviews. There are many business review sites out there, and not all of them play nice!
What Is Yelp?
You might be asking yourself what is Yelp? If you do not know already, Yelp is a business review site that places companies under the spotlight but not always in a good way.
Yelp focuses on local companies and allows crowd-based users to place reviews on their website. Many of these reviews cannot be verified.
Here we will learn more about alleged Yelp practices, and what you can expect when your small business ends up on their site.
Yelp, the Billion Dollar Bully
I have my own horror stories to share about my own business listing experiences with Yelp, so I am speaking from solid personal battles dealing with the Yelp bullies. I can fully believe the claims that other business people present, such as in the upcoming documentary presented on YouTube: Billion Dollar Bully This is a movie about Yelp’s alleged mafia-style practices towards business owners.
Shady Business Practice
In the past Yelp has been accused of shady business practices. There are many things that Yelp was accused of doing, and some of them may shock you!
Not only do small business owners have to worry about negative reviews being posted by Yelp. But there are many things that the review site did that was downright dirty.
Below you will find out just how horrible this review site can be for local businesses.
Accused of Extortion
One of the most surprising things you will learn about when you investigate the accusations against Yelp is extortion claims.
Several small business owners who have refused to join yelp.com have been punished for not taking part.
One property manager in the Bay Area, David Behling, believes that Yelp punished his company by posting bad reviews. These reviews stayed on Yelp for more than five years which had a negative impact on his business.
Withholding Good Reviews
Another accusation that has been claimed is that Yelp is withholding good genuine reviews on those small businesses that refuse to pay them for advertising.
These reviews never get to see the light of day and this is just one more way that Yelp is doing small companies dirty. Of course, Yelp would deny these claims.
Won’t Remove Fake Bad Reviews
Yelp has a bad reputation for refusing to remove fake bad reviews. The company when contacted will often give you the runaround. Many small business owners have had to deal with this, which is very unfair to those simply trying to make a living.
By not removing fake reviews for those who do not pay for Yelp’s services, makes the review site look bad. Many people have complained about this but just about every lawsuit filed against Yelp has ended in Yelp’s favor.
Favors For Those Who Do Pay
We have already learned what Yelp has been accused of doing to those that would not pay up. But what about those who do pay? Well, this is a totally different story.
Those that do decide to advertise with Yelp and join their program, they may receive a few favors from the company. Yelp seems to love those who pay and reward them by releasing genuine good reviews that would otherwise be held back.
Also, those who pay, have a better chance of getting fake or negative reviews removed from the website. These practices are very shady, and it makes you wonder what kind of company Yelp is running. For many years Yelp has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. While they have taken some measures to clean up their act, it is still a review website that many companies fear.
Five Types of People Submitting Yelp Reviews
When you look on the Yelp website you will notice several different types of people posting there. Each of these types of people is very different. Let’s learn more about them:
Good honest reviewers:
Don’t get me wrong, Yelp is not all bad or fake reviews. In fact, there are many good honest reviews on Yelp. These are the types of reviews any small business owner welcomes. This type of reviewer comes to Yelp in order to let the world know just how pleased they are with your business. A good review on Yelp can help your company grow and the more positive reviews you have on the site, the less of a chance those negative reviews will hurt you.
Bad reviews yet honest:
When someone comes to your restaurant or other places of business and are not happy with the service they will often get on Yelp. They will crank out a negative review to let you know just how upset they are! These reviews are bad, but they are not fake.
As you probably already know the internet is full of trolls. These people go around the internet and try to cause trouble for whoever they can find. Yelp has its share of trolls and many would call these people evil. They often make it their mission to start trouble. They produce reviews just for the sake of causing trouble which seems to make them very pleased.
The bad apples:
As a business owner, you already know that some bad apples can come into your store from time to time. Many of these people want something for free and they have a terrible attitude. They will often come into your establishment and complain about something just to get a free ride. When they don’t get their way, they will often run to Yelp and create a bad review about your company.
These are customers who have nothing better to do in their lives but to unjustly take their own miserable existence out on your business. Regardless of what you do or don’t do you simply cannot ever please such a customer. Such a customer will happily give you a one-star review because you did not give her a free hamburger, free fries, and a free soda, her with no intention of paying a cent for anything!
Now we need to look at the fake reviewers. These guys are determined to destroy your company with each word they write. Many of these fake reviewers are your competitors. They will even pay people to log on to their Yelp accounts and create these wildly fake reviews just to get ahead of you. These types of reviewers can end up costing you thousands of dollars because so many people go to Yelp for advice.
Over the years I have personally been hit with fake reviews from competitors, as well as from a couple of fired employees. I would admit that Yelp did remove one fake former employee review after I explained who wrote the bad review. But then another fired employee managed to produce a bad review that Yelp refused to touch, as they sited that “customers can voice any opinion they have. The business owner can answer any bad review by providing his or her own explanation”.
How To Handle Yelp Reviews
Now that we have examined just how bad Yelp can be for your small company, let’s learn how to handle Yelp reviews.
First and foremost, if you see a negative review about your business on Yelp, and you feel it is fake, you should contact them right away. When contacting Yelp explain that you believe that the review was produced by one of your competitors.
If you have proof that it is, in fact, your competitor leaving the fake review, it will better your odds of having it taken down. While there is no guarantee that Yelp will remove it, you should always try to get it taken down.
If you are dealing with an internet troll do some research and try to find out who is behind those negative reviews. When Yelp finds out you have proof that someone is trolling their website, they will more than likely take the review down.
Not even Yelp likes trolls because they are bad for their business. They will often investigate reviews left by trolls because they could be having a negative impact on Yelp’s customers that are paying for their services.
The bad apple reviewers are hard to deal with. Most of the time you will not be able to have their reviews taken down, but don’t worry you should not run into many of these types of customers.
Bad reviews from unhappy customers beyond the scope of Yelp’s influence
Then there are times when you or your staff simply screw up, pissing off your customer. Yes, that does happen, whether intentional or not on your or your staff’s part.
In that case, you have no choice but to attempt to contact that customer again to rectify the situation. Hopefully, the customer will change the review rating after making good for that customer?
Remember to always learn from your mistakes so that you don’t have another negative review posted about your company from a real mistake done by your business.
Another great way to counter bad Yelp reviews is by encouraging your customers to place reviews on other business review sites, such as Google.
Yelp is not the only review site in the game, and it is surely not the best. There are dozens of review sites out there, and many of them are becoming rising stars. Below we will learn about a few of these sites, and why they are becoming more popular than Yelp. Make sure you check them out and encourage your customers to check them out as well!
How The Other Business Review Sites Compare To Yelp
When looking for small business solutions, it is a good idea to encourage your customers and clients to place reviews on other websites. Many of these sites are a wonderful alternative to Yelp and they can help ease the blow of a bad Yelp review. Let’s take a look at a few!
This is one of the most trusted business review sites out there. Google reviews are well-known, to be honest, and factual. Those that do provide reviews for Google put a lot of time and quality into what they are trying to share. Having just a few good reviews on Google can help outweigh bad Yelp reviews, and many people prefer Google over Yelp.
While Glassdoor is not just a review site, it does have a ton of reviews that people trust. Here you can check out local businesses in your city and see how they stack up to others. Having your company standout on Glassdoor will help increase your customer base.
Better Business Bureau:
This time-tested and highly reputable review company has been helping customers find local businesses they can trust for many years. They are one of the top review sites in the country, and they are always honest. You can even become a member of the Better Businesses Bureau, which can help give your company a wonderful online reputation.
If you provide a service your company should always encourage clients to leave reviews on Angie’s List. This is a well-known business review website, that many people trust. Angie’s List has been around for a few years, and it is growing in popularity. No matter what size company you have, being on Angie’s List can really make a big difference in the volume of clients you receive.
While this site is not free to join for business owners, this review site will let customers review small companies for free. Judy’s Book is a growing community of contributors and a great please for your business to be reviewed. Most if not all of the reviews posted here are factual and can be trusted. They also allow these reviews to be shared via social media which helps them rank high with Google.
If you’re inclined to kiss up to Yelp
You can click to watch the video HERE to learn some information on how to best stay clear of their alleged wrath. Dr. Jarod Carter is explaining his own experiences very well.
Here you can see a news report, covering the good as well as bad sides of Yelp: Businesses tired of Yelp extortion are speaking out.
My take on Yelp
Assuming you already have an excellently run business going with very happy customers overall: Remember, your already established reputation precedes any negative review you may find on Yelp or anywhere else. You know the truth about any reviews left about your business.
Don’t ever let any unjust reviews get to you. Yelp may think they’ve got you in their grip, but they don’t! If your customer retention is solid, then I would not worry about Yelp.
They are not the only game in town used as a reference when people choose new businesses to support. As a matter of fact, I have found that, unless you are a food business, very few people even use Yelp!
Give your customers what they want, making them happy as can be. Most people don’t give a darn about the Yelp-influence once they discover what your business truly offers.
Afterthoughts on the Yelp mafia accusations and negative personal experiences
As you can see Yelp is one of those online review sites that can really put a damper on your business. Not only are they very difficult to deal with, but they also have a shady past. Many people have complained about how costly fake Yelp reviews can be. Some business owners have even had to close shop due to fake reviews.
But there is a way that you can combat Yelp. By simply encouraging your clients and customers to post reviews on other review websites, it will help to increase your online reputation. So, if you are looking for small business solutions to help improve your reputation, make sure to follow what we just covered!