Today’s consumers are internet-savvy, and they know to check reviews on a company before making a purchase. It is no wonder that a site like Yelp has over 184 million reviews, all helping consumers see the best and worst businesses in their area. With Yelp boasting over 92 million unique mobile visits per month, business owners have problems when dealing with bad Yelp reviews.
When Bad Yelp Reviews are Okay
Yelp reviews significantly impact a business’s online reputation, so having fake or bad reviews can be alarming for business owners. Some bad reviews are understandable and expected. Consumers want a genuine experience from a business, and no one is 100% perfect all the time. Some examples of legitimate bad reviews include:
- Honest mistakes: Most businesses have experienced a bad day where things just didn’t work out as intended.
- Constructive Criticism: Some consumers genuinely want to help improve a business, especially if they’re a long-time patron who noticed a recent issue. These reviews can be quite helpful.
- Products/Services failing to meet consumer expectations: Having a product or service fall short of what is advertised is never right, but businesses should know if this is happening.
- Bad experiences: This can happen to nearly any business, and it is good to know if the issue is a single slip-up or a chronic problem. These reviews can help companies to determine that.
Spotting Fake Yelp Reviews
Unfortunately, fake reviews are not entirely uncommon, and businesses can suffer from having their Yelp page spammed with them. Yelp does its best to thwart fraudulent reviews by hiding things that go against their community guidelines, but that doesn’t mean they catch everything.
What does slip through the cracks is not apparent to consumers, so that it can hurt a business’s standing in the public eye. Familiar sources of fake yelp reviews include:
Whether it’s a person who feels slighted by the business owner or an employee, some people seek revenge in the form of a bad Yelp review. If the slighted party rallies an online community, a business may receive dozens of these at a time. Fortunately, Yelp usually catches the heavier onslaughts.
Competing business owners may go so far as to make fake accounts and leave bad reviews for a business. It may be akin to cheating, but some business owners will stop at nothing to discredit a competing company.
Consumers can also have off days. It may result in a business getting a bad review that was meant for another company.
Angry Former Employees
No business owner wants to fire an employee, but it does happen. If that ex-employee feels resentful of the event, they may retaliate by leaving a negative Yelp review. These reviews are usually written with revenge in mind, and the former employee may have also posted on other review boards.
How to Remove a Fake Yelp Review
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to get rid of legitimate negative Yelp reviews. These can only be touched by the original author, so businesses are often stuck with them ad the ways how negative reviews affect your business, even if they don’t think they are fair. However, business owners do have some recourse if the reviews are fake or inappropriate.
Claim the Business Profile
Yelp creates a page for a business regardless of the business owner’s involvement in the process. Before anything can be done about the reviews, the business owner must create an account and claim the page as their own.
Contact the Reviewer
The easiest and least time-consuming way to handle a fake review is to contact the reviewer and ask them to change or remove it. It may be a long shot, depending on the circumstances that spurred the incident, but it is the least involved option.
Report the Review to Yelp for T.O.S Violations
While Yelp has an algorithm to catch most Terms of Service (T.O.S.) violations, it doesn’t always work as it should. Business owners should report reviews for T.O.S. violations if they include:
- Unrelated content
- Private information
- Threats of violence
- Promotional materials
- Obvious conflicts of interest
Take Legal Action
Depending on the severity of the review, businesses do have some legal recourse. Yelp will remove reviews that are proven in court to be defamatory or part of an attempt to destroy a business. However, this is likely expensive and could draw more negative attention to the company.
Increase Positive Reviews
One of the best ways to combat fake reviews is to push them down with an influx of positive reviews. Businesses should focus on providing the best possible customer experience and selling the highest quality products. The goal is to encourage genuine positive reviews without asking customers explicitly to do so, as that is a T.O.S violation.
How to Report a Yelp Review
The first step in reporting a Yelp review is to click on the menu icon next to the fake review and click “report review.” Yelp moderators will receive the report and determine if the review violates any terms of service. The process can take several days, but Yelp allows users to check the status at any time. Even if Yelp doesn’t remove the review, they may decide it isn’t helpful or reliable and bury it below better reviews.
The Bottom Line About Online Reputation
A business’s online reputation is integral to its success, and part of that is managing Yelp reviews. BrightPast is an online reputation management company that takes the work out of managing reviews across a wide range of sites, including Google and Yelp. Businesses that work with BrightPast see a significant improvement in how customers view the business’s services.