Online review site Yelp is not done battling fake reviews.
According to a new Telegraph interview featuring CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp has so far posted consumer alerts on a total of 285 business pages on its site.
This consumer alert system, which was introduced a little over a year ago, is designed to help Yelp users identify local businesses that might be trying to game the system by way of posting fake reviews.
The alerts appear on suspicious Yelp business pages, with links to evidence of potential review fraud as well a red-flag message that reads: “We caught someone offering up cash, discounts, gift certificates or other incentives in exchange for reviews about this business. We wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules.”
(Check out: “10 Savvy Ways You Can Spot Fake Reviews”)
Stoppelman explained that a number of fraudsters are hoping to work out how Yelp’s Review Filter works in order to beat the system.
“There is this cat and mouse game that plays out over time,” he said, “where our team comes up with new and interesting ideas to identify content that we shouldn’t recommend, and over time people are constantly probing that, trying to figure out how can they get around that and get a better reputation on Yelp.”
If you’re wondering why fake reviews are becoming a problem in the first place, it’s important to realize the impact that reviews and ratings on sites like Yelp have on consumer behavior and business performance. According to a recent study, 85 percent read reviews in order to determine whether a local business is good or not.
Here’s how Yelp has been able to catch review fraudsters. Said Stoppelman: “The way we have decided to combat that is we have a team that is dedicated to running sting operations. So we pose as review writers who are interested in selling reviews to whoever would like to buy them. It has been incredibly successful in that we have been able to catch businesses red-handed.”