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Review Solicitation: Why You Shouldn’t Do It and Tips to Optimize Your Yelp Pages for Success

Group of people on mobile phones on Yelp sitting at a table

With over 160 million reviews (and growing), Yelp has become synonymous with the term “reviews,” as a premier destination for consumers to view and leave reviews for local businesses. As a leader in the space, Yelp prides itself on maintaining authentic, reliable content on its site. For this reason, they have taken a stance against review solicitation and we’re thrilled to have them share their perspective on our blog.

Guest post by Yelp

Yelp’s mission since 2004 is to connect people with great local businesses by providing high quality content that consumers trust. As a result, we’ve had a longstanding and vocal position against businesses asking for reviews, which can lead to biased content that misleads consumers.

In the past couple of years, Yelp has seen an increase in the number of companies offering review solicitation services to local businesses as a way to artificially inflate their search rankings and online reputations. You might be wondering what soliciting reviews looks like. We’ve defined the term and highlighted some examples below.

Soliciting Reviews: Asking anyone, either directly or using a third party “reputation management” firm, to post reviews online.

Examples:

  • Asking customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.
  • Rewarding your staff to collect reviews from customers.
  • Running surveys, contests, or other campaigns that ask for reviews from customers.
  • Working with third party vendors to “manage your reputation” by asking for reviews from your customers.
  • Offering freebies, discounts, or payment to customers in exchange for reviews.

Over the years, as online reviews have increased in importance for consumers making buying decisions, we’ve seen a corresponding increase in efforts to manipulate reviews to artificially improve online reputations. Research indicates that these solicited reviews may deceive consumers. A study by professors at Northwestern found that solicited reviews received fewer ‘helpful’ votes from consumers and biased toward more positive ratings.

Yelp has worked to protect consumers and our platform against review solicitation since our earliest days, and we’re constantly evaluating our protections and introducing new measures when necessary. To protect consumers, we’re currently demoting business pages in Yelp search results that show indicators of organized review solicitation.

We know that it’s tempting for businesses to ask for reviews and that other review and social sites not only allow it, but actively encourage this kind of solicitation to boost content. That’s why we are working hard to educate both businesses and consumers about why review solicitation is against Yelp’s policies.

Here are some ways you can optimize your Yelp pages for success (without asking for reviews):

  • Claim your business
    • Get a visible checkmark telling users that you engage with the Yelp community. Then add beautiful photos and tell your business’ story in your own words.
  • Respond to reviews
    • Constructively address concerns when you see them. Our study shows that the right response to a critical review can improve a customer’s impression of overall experience and likelihood to increase the rating of their review.
  • Turn visitors into customers
  • Make it easy to find you
    • Verify your address, map pin, phone number, and website. Ensure your business is listed in appropriate categories.
    • Manage your Listing Information, to ensure all relevant information is up to date – NAP, hours, category etc.
  • Display approved Yelp branding
  • Report abusive content
    • Flag reviews that you believe violate Yelp’s Content Guidelines, and our team will take a look.

You can find more information on Yelp’s policy on soliciting reviews and their guide to success here.

As a long-standing Yelp partner, MomentFeed has helped multi-location brands manage their location listing data at scale and create authentic engagement between brands and consumers. Connect with MomentFeed today and learn how you can take advantage of this powerful partnership.

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