• Review HELPER

    An extremely informative study, but with its focus on “fake” reviews, it does not address the issue of “solicitation” of reviews, which is of critical importance to honest business owners. The very same behaviors and reputation changes that correlate to business owners posting fake positive reviews also correlates to business owners being overly aggressive in soliciting real reviews from real customers. This is a problem because Yelp’s review filter does not discriminate between the two. It just sees the behaviors and filters reviews.

    Typically, the business owner gets a bad review, wants to vindicate the business, and so asks all his or her happy customers to speak up for the business. This results in a lot of 5-star reviews. Another factor not addressed in the study is the historical pattern of reviews submitted by a particular business, as well as the historical pattern of a particular business category in a particular market (Yelp acknowledges it looks at this). So these are “norms.” Yelp’s review filter sees deviations from the norms as a likely attempt to deceive. So if a business averages two submitted a reviews over the past two years, then suddenly receives 10 five-star reviews in a week because the owner posted a plea on the business’s Facebook page–well that business may get itself into deep trouble with Yelp’s review filter, from which it will be difficult to extricate itself.

    This is another factor not addressed in the study: the dynamic nature of Yelp’s filter. Because it is our business to help companies get honest reviews they deserve, we spend a great deal of time analyzing specific situations. We work with clients on these issues in real time. It seems to us that Yelp’s filter becomes harsher on a business after it detects what it believes is deception. It may sweep back in time and remove positive reviews, and make it more difficult to get them published for a period of time moving forward.

    We’re also strongly convinced that Yelp’s filter has different standards for different industries, i.e., it is stricter on the more competitive industries. We provide real examples for the points made in this post on our Yelp reviews FAQs page.