Yelp Reviews: Extortion or Opportunity?

6 min read
Dec 29, 2022 6:05:46 PM

No one is perfect, and that includes businesses. Even the best companies will have dissatisfied customers from time to time. When this happens, it's important to know how to respond to negative Yelp reviews to show your customers that you care. This blog post will discuss is Yelp is still relevant and tips for responding to bad Yelp reviews. 


If you’d like to learn more about review management, or talk to a specialist, feel free to give us a call at 855-750-0583.


Does Yelp Matter For Local Businesses?


For local businesses, Yelp is still relevant in 2023. They still receive loads of traffic every month, indicating that Yelp reviews still influence consumers. 


In fact, Yelp is receiving over 120 million visits each month. Additionally, Yelp is still favored in Google search results featuring the “top 10 near me” search results. 


The top search terms on Yelp as of 2023 include: 


  • Food near me
  • Breakfast near me
  • Restaurants near me

Yelp website traffic

If you are a local business not on Yelp then you are missing out on potential clients and increased visibility. Many business owners can and do proactively manage their Yelp Business Accounts successfully. Utilizing it to generate more traffic and increase online visibility


Yelp Extortion Tactics?


Yelp states on its website that “You Can’t Pay Us to Remove or Reorder Your Reviews.” However, many business owners have accused Yelp of hiding positive reviews and manipulating ratings based on sponsorship. 


Yelp has created a special section for hiding positive reviews called “other reviews that are not currently recommended”. 


Although Yelp has a history of utilizing these extortion practices to manipulate reviews, the only Yelp extortion you have to worry about today is the algorithm they use. It obviously favors negative reviews and has become comical. 


Yelp continues to hound business owners with unsolicited sales calls. However, the sales pitch has changed from extorting businesses for better reviews to selling advertising on competitors’ business pages. 


Can You Pay Yelp to Remove a Review? 


According to their website, “The best reviews are passionate, personal narratives full of details and tips.” However, if you signup for a paid account, Yelp might reorder and even remove bad reviews in some circumstances. 


Yelp has been accused of using negative reviews as a “sales lead” and calling business owners with promises to hide, or even remove bad Yelp reviews. Yelp has already been slapped with a Class Action Lawsuit for engaging in shady pressure tactics to remove or bury negative reviews for businesses that advertised or coughed up sponsorships.


In addition, business owners have reported receiving negative Yelp reviews moments after refusing to advertise. In fact, a host of 2,000 other complaints filed with the FTC since 2008. Yelp sales representatives promised to move or remove negative reviews if their business would advertise. In other instances, positive reviews disappeared, or negative ones appeared after business owners declined to advertise on their platforms.


How Do I Report A Negative Yelp Review?


If you have determined that a negative Yelp review meets a reason for removal, you can report the review to their support team. 


  • Locate the review on your business page.
  • Click the menu option (three dots) on the right side of the review. 
  • Select “Report Review” 


Yelp support will then investigate the review to see if it violates their guidelines. This process can take up to 72 hrs. 

how to report a yelp review

There are three main reasons why Yelp might remove a review


The reviewer has an apparent conflict of interest​


  • They appear to be a competitor or former employee
  • They seem to be affiliated with the business
  • They're receiving payment or other incentives for the review
  • They're promoting the business or a competitor


The review doesn't focus on the reviewer's own consumer experience


  • It's about someone else's consumer experience
  • It describes extraordinary circumstances (e.g. COVID-19, media-fueled stories)
  • It's primarily disputing another Yelper’s review
  • It's about a different business
  • It appears to be plagiarized from another source


The review includes inappropriate material


  • ​It contains hate speech, lewd commentary, or threatening language
  • It contains private information about employees or patrons


Please note that after you successfully remove a Yelp review, it will still display at the bottom of your business profile as removed. 

yelp review removed


Any growing business will experience an angry customer. Some of those disgruntled employees or customers might take their grievances online. If you are unable to successfully remove a Yelp review, you need to respond in a professional manner.


How should you respond?


How to Respond to Negative Yelp Reviews the Right Way


By following these steps, you can help create a positive customer experience, both for the original reviewer and prospective customers.


1.    Don't Panic - Stay Calm and Collected


Responding to negative Yelp reviews can be stressful, but it's important to remain level-headed and professional. Responding quickly and professionally can help you manage the situation, maintain your reputation, and even turn a negative review into a positive one. When responding, be empathetic and polite and explain why the customer experience was unsatisfactory. Ask them to contact you directly so that you can resolve the issue or offer a resolution yourself.


Responding to negative reviews calmly and collectedly will show potential customers that you take customer service seriously. Additionally, it is important to ensure that any changes you make resulting from negative reviews are implemented quickly and effectively.


Don't do this!

funny yelp reviews


2.    Acknowledge the Reviewer's Complaint and Apologize for the Inconvenience or Poor Service


Responding to negative reviews is important to maintaining a good reputation on Yelp. It shows customers that you are willing to take responsibility and make things right. Respond quickly, courteously, and with empathy. Let customers know their experience matters, and show them that your business takes all feedback seriously. Offer a sincere apology for the inconvenience and restate your commitment to quality customer service.


Make sure to provide a resolution tailored to the individual customer's situation. Thank them and invite them back so they can experience the great service you know you offer. Responding quickly and genuinely to negative reviews on Yelp will help ensure customers have a positive overall experience with your business.

how to respond to negative yelp reviews

3.    Explain What You are Doing to Correct the Situation and Ensure it Doesn't Happen Again


After acknowledging the customer's experience, explain what steps have been taken or will be taken to rectify the issue. This could include offering a refund or free service, giving the customer an incentive to return, or creating new policies and procedures within your organization to prevent similar experiences. 


Once these steps have been taken, close out your response with a sincere thank you for bringing the issue to light so it can be addressed. This will show that you genuinely care about your customers and their experiences with your business, and their feedback is valued.

  how to respond to bad yelp reviews

4.    If Necessary, Offer a Discount or Freebie to Make Up for the Bad Experience


Try to address the customer's concerns directly, and provide a solution that will benefit both parties. If appropriate, offer a discount or freebie to compensate for the customer's bad experience. Doing this will help create a better experience for the customer and show other customers that you are attentive and care about your business's reputation.


A well-crafted response, plus an offer of a discount or freebie, is a powerful way to show customers that you are taking the time and effort to address their concerns.  


Final Thoughts


No business is immune to the occasional negative Yelp review. But, by following these tips, you can be sure that you're doing everything in your power to turn a negative into a positive. And, at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want? To provide the best possible product or service and make our customers happy?


NewReputation has helped hundreds of brands build a better online reputation. To receive a free proposal and Yelp review strategy, contact us today

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