About a year and a half ago Yelp announced that they were going to provide consumer alerts for those companies that violated Yelp’s review policy. In October of 2012, Yelp announced that they had issued consumer alerts for 8 businesses that were soliciting or purchasing fake reviews. Then in August of last year Yelp announced that another round of alerts had been issued but failed to provide an exact number. Today, it looks like Yelp is stepping up their game and cracking down on fake reviews.
According to Jeremy Stoppleman, Yelp’s CEO, they have issued over 285 consumer alerts to date. The jump in consumer alerts should have those engaging in this activity on edge. Stoppleman explains that in addition to the review filter used to catch fake reviews, Yelp has a team dedicated to checking websites, Craigslist Ads and performing “sting operations” to catch companies looking to purchase reviews or offering discounts for reviews. Once your company has been deemed in violation of Yelp’s review policy a pop up warning is placed on your Yelp page.
Yelp believes that these pop up messages will deter businesses from purchasing or providing incentives for customer reviews.Yelp continues to remain vague with how their review process works. They claim that too much information will allow people to cheat the system and write fake reviews that stick. There are some guidelines to work off of to avoid the dreaded consumer review pop-up:
- Do not purchase Yelp reviews – Yelp has hinted that they are running stings on CraigList to catch those people buying reviews
- Do not write fake reviews – Most fake reviews are from a profile with only one Yelp review. These are likely to get filtered anyways
- Do not silicate 5 star reviews – Asking for 5 star reviews is frowned upon but hard to prove. Avoid having a request on your site for 5 star reviews
- Do not offer discounts for reviews – Yelp has also hinted that they may be checking websites/facebook for special offers for those who offer discounts for Yelp reviews.
While the Yelp community might love these consumer reviews, I do not see the harm in offering a discount for a review. This type of offer does not guarantee that you will get a 5 star review nor does it mean that the review will not be genuine. Yelp is all about obtaining “real customer reviews” and I do not see the harm in obtaining these reviews even if it means a free cup of coffee on the house.
By Matthew Wilkos