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Today’s marketplace has undoubtedly been transformed by reviews. A customer review is a window into the business, a great marketing tool, and helps shape its reputation.

Businesses across the globe depend on reviews to help new customers find them. The vast majority of consumers make their buying decisions based on online reviews. Star ratings are the number one factor used to judge a business. If 97 percent of consumers are scouring the internet in search of new businesses and the vast majority (85%) are believing what they read, there is no room for error.  Yet, an alarming number reviews posted on one of the most trusted review sites are actually hidden or filtered from the eyes of the consumer.

Yelp, a known powerhouse when it comes to consumer reviews has 142 million reviews as of September 30, 2017. As one of the world’s most trusted review sites, seeing should be believing. However, this is not the case.

Patient reviews can be challenging to come by in today’s busy world. It can be extremely frustrating to learn that someone has taken the time to write a sincere review only to have it filtered out and placed in the “not recommended” section. This means the review does not count towards the businesses star rating and people have to do a little digging in the “not recommended” section in order to read the review. The vast majority of consumers aren’t going to go to this effort and therefore the business is punished.

If a one-star increase in Yelp results in 5-9% increase in revenue, it behooves businesses to play in the Yelp sandbox and encourage customers to write reviews. But the rules aren’t exactly fair.

Yelp uses a filter that is meant to protect businesses and consumers from illegitimate reviews. Its automatic filter only displays the reviews that are perceived by Yelp to be the most honest and helpful. However, when researched, there does not appear to be a consistent rule followed. Yelp claims to recommend reviews based on quality, reliability, and user activity. More information on the Yelp filter can be found here. We have also broken down the meaning of each below.

  1. User Activity – Yelp wants reviews from people who are actively reviewing other businesses. Yelp often blocks reviews from first-time Yelp reviewers.
  2. Reliability – Yelp wants to know that the person making the review is real. If they do not connect Yelp to other platforms such as Facebook, they are left with minimal info about the reviewer and will often filter out their review.
  3. Quality – Yelp is looking for solid feedback about businesses. They want long, detailed reviews with information that will help consumers make better buying decisions.

While it can be frustrating to see a glowing 5-star review be filtered out, there are other sites that are also quite popular. Send reviewers to Google and Facebook to write a review. Don’t ignore your Yelp page, but understand that when someone is looking online for medical doctors or facilities, your Google local listing will appear before Yelp. Make the most of it!