Article by Pierre Zarokian.
In today’s online world where no one is afraid to voice their opinion, how powerful can Yelp reviews be? Well, according to one study by Harvard Business School, just a one-star increase on Yelp can lead to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue, while in another survey by ReviewTrackers, 94% of customers avoided a business because of a negative online review. This survey also found that 80% of consumers tended to distrust businesses with a rating lower than 4 stars. Furthermore, Yelp reviews can influence how your brand is presented on social media and can be readily visible whenever someone searches for your brand on Google.
The truth is that negative Yelp reviews mean fewer customers, and fewer customers mean less revenue. These negative reviews are a sign that your business isn’t up to your customers’ standards, which means that something needs to change. If you’re missing out on crucial financial gains because of Yelp reviews, this isn’t a problem you can fix by hoping it just goes away.
The first thing you can do to fix this problem is to pay attention to your negative feedback and understand why your customers are unhappy. Then, you should try making up for your customers’ complaints, even if it means providing free services, rewards, or refunds. After this, you should see if there is anything about your service that’s resulting in customer complaints and make the necessary changes.
If you do get a negative Yelp review it is going to be very hard to remove it. There are only 2 ways a negative review can be removed, so let’s look at the options:
1. Requesting Yelp to Remove it
This is done by flagging the review, by clicking on the small flag on the bottom of the review. Yelp would only remove a review if it violates their guidelines. Here are some of the acceptable reasons that can be used for removal:
-It is not a personal review: this means the review was left by someone else other than the person who got the service. The review would have to specifically say that someone else was the recipient of the service.
-The review was left for the wrong business or location. Again it would have to specifically state this within the review.
-The review contains threats, lewdness or hate speech, such as racial harassment or cyber harassment.
-The review violates Yelps Privacy standards, such as if it contains personal information.
-It was posted by a competitors or ex-employee. You would need to prove this such as matching the name of the person to the person you think is a competitor or ex-employee.
-It contains promotional material. An example would be if the reviewer mentions or recommends a competitor.
Unfortunately Yelp does not want to hear any other arguments other than the above and if you make a different argument it is most likely going to be declined.
In very rare cases, if you can proof the review is completely false, Yelp may listen to you. For example, if the reviewer says that you do not have a license to operate, but you can proof that you do, you can send copy of your license to Yelp legal department to make your argument.
Once you flag the review, you would not be able to do it again, but you can instead fill out this form for a second request. I do recommend that you try a slightly different argument by this method.
If the flagging does not work, I recommend that you also try sending a letter to the Yelp legal department as most likely a second person would review your case. Yelp legal department address can be found by doing a Google search.
2. Requesting the Poster to Remove it
The second way a yelp review can be removed is if the original poster removes it. So you should reach out to the posted if you know who they are and try to resolve the issue and see if they would remove the review or make it positive. You can also contact the reviewer from within Yelp messaging if you do not know who they are.
However, be warned that Yelp is against offering any incentives or money for removing reviews! If you are caught doing so, Yelp may post a message on top of your profile stating not to trust your business because you have been caught offering incentives for removing reviews. This message would usually stay for a period of 6 months.
If the removal does not work, you should try creating positive content to take control of your brand’s image and push down the negative content. Videos, engaging social media posts, and blogs with regular updates are examples of desirable content. Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, and Medium will even allow you to create subdomains containing your brand name (i.e., yourname.wordpress.com, yourname.tumblr.com, medium.com/@yourname). These subdomains will help your blogs rank higher when Internet users search for your brand’s name.
Finally, you should always ask your good clients for reviews, but be warned again that it is against Yelp policy to do so. I know it is pretty ridicules that Yelp will not allow to remove your profile from their directory and yet they don’t even allow you to ask for reviews.
Pierre Zarokian is the founder of Reputation Stars, an online reputation management company. He writes for the Search Engine Journal and other publications. Read more articles by him at Pierre Zarokian’s Blog.