Yelp and the challenges of reputation management

Online reputation management

One of the business goals of any online marketing efforts should be to improve the business’ online reputation. Some of my clients are in health-related fields like dentistry and allergy, so it is important to be familiar with the main players in online reputation management for their respective fields. An informative survey by SoftwareAdvice indicates that:


  • HealthGrades is the most popular online review site, but Yelp is the most trusted.
  • Patients are most likely to use online reviews as a first step in finding a new doctor.
  • Patients using online reviews are primarily seeking information related to the accuracy of diagnoses, physicians’ years of experience and wait times.

Since Yelp is so important, having a progressively positive collection of Yelp reviews becomes very important. The challenge is when a business has only a few reviews and one of them happens to be negative but written by an established Yelp user.  The second challenge is when the positive reviews are by new Yelp accounts and for some mysterious reason are flagged as not trustworthy.

That is exactly the challenge we are dealing with so I wanted to outline some of the steps to address what could potentially damage the business.

How to improve our Yelp reviews

1. Move positive reviews out of the Yelp filter:

Our problematic experience with Yelp reviews is not unique to us. This Time article provides a good summary:

The trustworthiness of Yelp, Angie’s List, and other “unbiased” ratings services is called into question in a new study by Consumer Reports. And the consumer advocacy publication is hardly the only one taking issue with user-review sites lately.

Many Yelp customers indicate that legitimate reviews are filtered out by Yelp. Many people suspect it is a way to force business to pay for their listings, making Yelp a nightmare to deal with, yet the reality is the influence of Yelp is too significant to ignore.

LocalVox has a very specific article on how to avoid the Yelp review filter and so does Go Fish Digital.

Based on them a specific recommendation for the Yelp business account holders is to reach out to the clients whose reviews have been filtered out and:

– Ask them to add a profile picture. Images make a user look more engaged with the site and less likely to get filtered out.
– Ask them to “check in” on their mobile phones from a few local places. Again, this indicates to the Yelp algorithm that they are human beings who engage with the app consistently.
– Ask them to be active. Although your end goal is to get the review for your business out of the filter, it helps if the Yelper is a frequent user. If they write a handful of reviews, it is more likely to get the review of your business up onto the main page.

Based on an article summarizing these strategies for avoiding the filter review, the most specific recommendation to us as Yelp users is to to make it a habit to:

– Write a bunch of Yelp reviews.

– If possible, link our Yelp accounts with our Facebook accounts.
– Make Yelp friends and like their reviews. Follow Yelpers with positive reviews.

– Turn to friends and families (and that should include friends and families of the staff) and ask them for Yelp (and other online review sites) reviews.

– Turn to loyal patients — in the office with the wifi easily accessible and after the office with emails.

– Reach out to vendors with whom are in already constant interactions and it would be helpful to ask them to consider giving us a good Yelp

Last but not least — Yelp alternatives

While Yelp is the biggest company in online reviews, it is by no means the only one. We should continue working on improving our reviews and rankings on Google +, Facebook, and other sites. PCWorld provides a good list of Yelp alternatives.

For many product categories Google + might turn out to be the top review site.

In conclusion, we need to continue investing time and effort in growing the Google + and Facebook audience in addition to specific review sites like HealthGrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, because of these reviews’ placement on the Google search results pages.

What is your experience with Yelp and how have you dealt with online reputation management challenges?