In this guide, we’re going to discuss some hacks for removing bad Yelp reviews. These techniques can also be used for removing fake ones too!
The most common types of businesses I see on Yelp tend to be restaurants, retail stores, beauty salons, personal services, and professional services. Most of these businesses have a lot of local customers, which makes the potential for repeat customers very competitive!
Exercising your legal rights and battling negative reviews on Yelp requires time away from doing the day to day operations of your business. If you don’t have this extra time, I’d seriously consider hiring a professional to help with the process.
Yelp’s Automatic Algorithm
Yelp’s automatic algorithm is better at detecting good reviews as being fake than the bad ones. Wow, talk about being biased. Algorithms are always improving, and with advancements of AI, maybe down the road, it will actually work a lot better.
BTW… Many social media platforms are also known for constantly changing their algorithms around to hide or show more favorable posts. Just ask people who use to get lots of free traffic with Facebook pages.
Yelp encourages many business owners to sign-up for a business account and then claim their listing. You should absolutely do this; I tell you how to do it a bit later in this guide.
Yelp’s Account Executive and Advertising
An account executive from Yelp could have called you recently to sell you on the idea of upgrading your account. Seriously consider this as an option for advertising if the cost is reasonable. Especially if you notice a lot of your customers using Yelp. This is especially important for new restaurants, Yelp is a necessity for getting people in the door.
Whether you like it or not, Yelp is an online authority people use for finding new local businesses. So absolutely take advantage of that. If you’re totally against Yelp and you think it does more harm than good for bringing new customers to your door, then skip paying for any extra services and just use the free services.
Did you know? Yelp has been accused of favoring business accounts that are paid vs. free ones by stacking good reviews over bad ones. Or in some cases actually hiding or removing the bad reviews all together! I seriously doubt this is true, but it’s good to be aware that this issue was a big deal in the media a while back.
If you want to learn more about those accusations, check out this article: Yelp accused of bullying businesses into paid account
I highly recommend you bring up Yelp’s help page for reporting reviews as a reference. It will give you some background in the mindset of Yelp and how their customer service is trained for dealing with bad review complaints.
Step 1: Claim Your Yelp Account!
It’s imperative to get control of your business profile and account on Yelp, so claim your account. Check out the link for claiming it at https://biz.yelp.com.
After clicking on the link, just search for your business name and city. Your business should come right up and then follow the on-screen directions for registering.
The option to “claim this business” should also appear during the process.
You’ll then proceed to enter your email address and create a business account. Try not to enter a credit card though, and don’t sign up for any extra services, this should all be free.
This is the first big step to getting control of the reviews that are made on your Yelp business profile. This will also allow you to respond to the review and interact with the customer (remember to be positive and stay professional!)
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Content Guidelines of Yelp
Knowledge is power! So make sure you review the content guidelines on Yelp to see if your bad review is in any kind of violation. If it is, you can report it to Yelp to have it removed.
One example of a violation is if a review is a personal attack on one of your employees. Other violations include reviews with any language that is defamatory and derogatory or attacks a person based on disabilities, race, ethnicity, religion or other such factors.
Review the following Yelp support article for the guidelines.
A few takeaways from the article:
* It clearly says if a review contains personal names of your employees or customers it must be removed.
* If it contains other information such as phone numbers and addresses, that review should be deleted too. If you can prove the review is from a person with a conflict of interest with your business in any way, you can have an almost guarantee of getting it removed. (A conflict of interest is a former employee, friend, or someone who has an incentive to write the bad review, especially if they were paid to write it.)
* If a bad review is promoting another business to the reader, it is also a clear violation.
* A bad review cannot relate to current events that revolve around your industry or business, especially if someone saw something on the news about your business and decides (without trying it) they just don’t like you, so they write a bad review.
* Every legitimate review also needs to come from the person who writes it based on their own experience. If you can prove the review is plagiarized or not written authentically, that is also a big red flag for removal.
* Lewd commentary and threatening language are also no good. The review needs to have some seriousness and honesty to it.
If there is no clear violation of the review and it’s just someone’s opinion, that is not a good enough reason for Yelp to quickly remove it.
Step 3: Contact Yelp Customer Service on the Phone or E-mail
Next, you can try calling or e-mailing Yelp customer service to request the removal of the review. The issue with this option is that everyone does this and Yelp is pretty much prepared to not help you. They are extremely resistant to give you any real help. Can you imagine how many people yell at them on the phone every day? Or the nasty e-mails they must read? Whoa.
If you contact Yelp, be prepared to provide the following information:
- The date of the bad review
- Why it should be removed
- Any other facts that create a good argument for removal
- Any info to ruin the credibility of the reviewer
If there’s a clear content guideline violation with the review, it would be a massive conflict of interest for Yelp not to remove it for you. But REMEMBER, Yelp is only going to do what is right for Yelp, not you! But if there is such a violation, it will be removed.
If you don’t get anywhere with Yelp customer service, the next step is your best option.
Step 4: Report the Review Under Your Business or Personal Yelp Account
By this step, things are getting a bit tough. You burned through the first level phone call or e-mail message to YELP customer service. You’ve tried to work it out with the customer.
And no one seems to be helping you!
Time to be a bit more proactive, Go ahead and report that bad review by flagging it, make sure you’re logged in with either your personal or business Yelp account.
How to report a bad Yelp review by flagging it.
1) Locate the review that is in question.
2) Find the flag icon and click Report review. On the Yelp mobile app, the flag icon is located on the top right-hand side of the menu app screen. On the website, normally the flag is on the bottom right corner.
3) Then, You’ll be presented with some options like:
- The review contains false information
- Posted by someone affiliated with the business, an employee, or competitor
- The posting contains hate speech or is threatening to someone’s well-being
- Doesn’t describe a personal experience for the consumer accurately
- Contains spam or promotional material
- A mistake and the review is for the wrong business
After you report it, you’ll most likely hear a response back after they notify the poster and Yelp does a bit of research on their end. If they don’t remove it, then the fight will go on, and you’ll need a bit more ammo. We’ll discuss the art of persistence below.
Step 5: Persistence With a Second Request
With enough persistence, Yelp will eventually get tired of you. Yelp is open to a request for a second evaluation of your request, read about that here: Can I request a second evaluation of something I reported that did not get removed?
Each time you or a lawyer sends a letter or e-mail, Yelp has to respond. Probably only 1% of businesses ever push the rebuttals and dispute of a bad review more than a second time.
So with enough persistence, you can fight, and at some point, they’ll probably just remove it because of that drain on time and the fact they just don’t want to deal with you anymore. It’s just an ongoing legal battle which may or not be worth your time.
That’s why its best to hire an ORM legal professional to help you!
I hope you got everything you need from this guide for dealing with such a horrible problem! Small Business is the lifeline of this economy, and it upsets me when bad reviews happen on Yelp, especially when it’s a fake review or someone abusing the system.