The Guide to Surviving Yelp (Without Resorting to Alcoholism)

Jan 8, 2019 | Business, Local, Marketing, SEO

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Yelp has a notoriously bad record when it comes to being likable. With the odds already stacked against small businesses, hundreds have taken to social media to voice their complaints.

It doesn’t seem to have helped, however.

Yelp is a profit-driven company (like all others), but they have one BIG problem. They have the habit of screwing over business owners, then turning around to harass them with “free $300 in Yelp Ads” and hard-nosed sales pitches over the phone.

They are “nice” to the wrong people.

If business owners are the ones making them money, why won’t they work with them?

It’s a mystery that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve.

Today I’ll share a few tips to combat Yelp’s desire to filter out your reviews (and happiness).

Why Filter Reviews?

When you look at a listing, below what seem to be the only reviews there is an inconspicuous button that says “__ other reviews that are not currently recommended” with a miniature triangle, indicating a dropdown.

Then you see this video and explanation.

The key here isn’t that Yelp doesn’t cater to advertisers. No one would use a review site if they thought business owners could simply pay to remove any negative review.

The key is “helpful to the Yelp community”.

While this is a subjective way to frame it, one thing is sure: Yelp thinks very highly of itself and its so-called “community”.


Amount of Friends

I never thought about the amount of friends a given reviewer has had anything to do with its filter. However, refer to the previous paragraph where they say “based on… reliability”.

Yelp sees those who have left a lot of previous reviews as more reliable. This makes sense, but it’s a bit cocky of them to say, in essence, “only those who use our platform can be trusted with something so important”.

I recently did a study on home service businesses’ Yelp profiles, and found that the average “not recommended” reviewer had just less than 2 friends.



Amount of Reviews

“Reviewer’s activity” is the next part you should pay attention to. Again, Yelp leans on its “power users” to determine a large portion of their poilicies, for worse or for

In my study, the average number of previous reviews for each profile in the “non-recommended” section was 2.2, compared to around 30 for the “recommended” section.

Note: There are also buttons under each review that say “funny, “useful”, and “cool”. Why they think humorous reviews are more reliable or worth promoting is strange, but then again, this is Yelp we’re talking about.

I suspect that when these buttons are clicked by other users, those reviews become more “sticky”, though our study didn’t see much of a correlation.

Here’s What to Do

First of all, perform a good service. No advice for getting reviews can trump just plain providing a great customer experience or product.

Ask About Yelp

After customer interactions, ask for reviews. If you’re looking to more Yelp reviews, ask “do you use Yelp, by chance?”

If they say yes, you’re golden.

If no, explain to them a few things we discussed here, and PRO TIP: have them “sign in” with Facebook.

Example Pitch

“It would mean the world to us if you could share your experience with us on Yelp. Because they often filter out legitimate reviews, we’d ask that you do two things. First sign in using Facebook. This will add any “friends” that are also using yelp, don’t worry, they can’t post for you or anything. The second thing is to review a few other businesses in the area before you review ours (restaurants, Walmart, your dog sitter, your favorite strip club, ok maybe not that last one). This way your review will more than likely show up for others to see.”

This works well if you have a business where you can explain this in person, but I’ve also seen it work over email.

Also be sure that these people are your brand ambassadors. Don’t explain all this to someone who isn’t already singing your praises.


With all the marketing for pest control we’ve done, we’re still amazed at how many people in the industry look for “hacks” and workarounds. No amount of tips or tricks can make up for a quality product or service. If you’re getting negative reviews for a certain aspect of your business, take control of it and nip it in the bud.

Assuming that previous reviews and the amount of friends each profile has factor into whether a given review will even “count”, you should be able to take advantage of this information in order to make a higher percentage of your good reviews stick.

Hopefully you’ve gotten some actionable advice in this post and improve your online reputation as a result.

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