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Catching Up with the Competition: How to Get More Online Reviews from Your Customers

Yelp is home to profiles and reviews of over 50 million businesses worldwide. Anyone that deals in the business-to-consumer world and has a physical address will most likely have Yelp business pages at some point. Yelp is preponderant when it comes to search domination, both in traditional engines and in direct traffic generated by consumers looking for peer-based recommendations for everything, from restaurants and bars to nightclubs and churches.

Not a day goes by without some press coverage related to disagreements between Yelp and local businesses. Many have resulted in legal proceedings, and others have been dealt with through creative marketing.

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But what about everybody else? There are millions of businesses of varied sizes that benefit on a daily basis from leads as well as feedback provided on Yelp. It is almost inevitable to have press bias, but if you are a small business, then you need to go back to the facts and take a closer look at how Yelp might have a positive impact on your business. 

There Is Value in Volume

A common complaint when it comes to Yelp reviews relates to Yelp’s review filter and how it is likely to hide excellent reviews, and display and prioritize bad reviews instead. Even if this rumor is true, a business that engages in business practices that are focused on delivering the best of the best will soon begin to reap the fruits of their labor on review sites, and what they are likely to see is simply good news.

It comes down to numbers. If you have more reviews posted, then you will have an increased chance of having at least some of your excellent and above-average reviews go past Yelp’s filter and start showing up on your profile. This is especially true if you are seeking out ways to engage reviewers that are likely to be highly active in online social channels.

This can be achieved through diversification and having an aggressive marketing strategy that takes into account social media and online conversations. The fact is, those likely to be engaged on Twitter stand a greater chance to be high-volume contributors in other online channels. Don’t miss out. Find ways to capture their attention, their heart, and their palate if you happen to be in the food-service segment.

Engage Elite Yelpers 

Allow us to reiterate this point. Elite Yelpers stand a greater chance of having their reviews not be hindered by the Yelp review filters. Be conversant with members of the Yelp Elite Squad who have honored your profile with a review, and find ways to engage the Yelp community through participation in Yelp-sponsored events.

But before you get too Yelp-Elite-crazy, we want to remind you that at the end of the day it is about quality. Having the best connections and garnering advocates only works when your products and services are outstanding.

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Outstanding Always Wins 

Excellence is a powerful force that not even the best filter can contain. With hard work and determination, a small business can eventually snowball its reviews to a point where even if some of the reviews are filtered, what shoppers get to see is a true reflection of its quality.

Work on doing what is right for business, right for your brand, and right for your customers, and you will see a reflection of your efforts on your Yelp and other review sites. It is just a matter of time and waiting for sufficient review volume to build up.

Shine by Engaging with Negative Reviewers 

A commonly voiced concern by some businesses is that Yelp gives priority to negative reviews, exposing shoppers to the worst first, and often filtering and hiding five-star reviews.

In the interest of building your online reputation, consider engaging with negative reviews by providing public responses aimed at giving the reviewer the option to receive compensation, remedy, or the opportunity to try your business again and form a new impression of what you and your staff can truly deliver. Learn all there is to learn about drafting review responses that will build your brand and improve your credibility with shoppers. Take time to engage with negative reviews, and take the feedback seriously by making corrections to the way you deliver services and create products.

Smart marketers use negative reviews as a springboard for social engagement and often come up ahead. Instead of being discouraged, be diligent in how you treat negative reviews, and bank on the opportunity that rests on prioritized display.

Learn and Move On

At the end of the day, even the best of businesses is likely to get one or two rants. If the complaints are valid, then by all means address them, provide remedy, and learn from your mistakes. If they are otherwise unfair and malicious, then don’t dwell upon it. Your good reviews are likely to stand out and help you have sustained growth, both in business volume and in your online reputation. The benefits obtained from free business exposure on Yelp are generally greater than the negative impact you are likely to have from a few filtered reviews.

Make Yelp part of your overall online reputation strategy, but not your exclusive source of online reputation. There are many high-traffic review websites that influence how you acquire leads online. Taking a holistic and balanced approach to review management is likely to yield greater gains than simply focusing all your energies in one channel. Take a moment to review what a good review and reputation management tool can do for your business today by taking a risk-free trial of our award-winning review management tool.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.


  1. Jess

    An interesting point of view. Considering this information would it be a better idea to create an online presence before creating a Yelp profile or should one do it as soon as possible and hope for the best?

  2. David R

    I did not know that Yelp filters out the positive 5-star review as well. I really don’t know why a new user who just started using Yelp will not be able to have a published review. The filters will filter he’s review out. So, how can someone become a notable Yelp reviewer if he’s review will be filtered in the beginning?

  3. Hans Anders

    I really don’t understand why would somebody hate Yelp – it’s one of my favorite business sites, and you can connect it to your business pages on almost all social networks which is excellent for marketing…Not to mention that it’s probably the most popular site of its kind and that people are more likely to hear about your business on Yelp than somewhere else.