Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
Yelp’s review filter drives both Yelp’s value and its greatest frustration among car dealers. Invariably people complain when good reviews are filtered out, although not when bad ones are filtered, of course. But what makes Yelp helpful is that it does a better job than most review sites getting you useful reviews.
The filter that protects a dealer from spam or controversial reviews also prevents them from turning good experiences into good reviews – they often are filtered out. (P.S. - Need more reviews? Here are 8 tips for getting positive Yelp reviews.)
At LocalVox, we feel your pain. Over half of our good reviews have been filtered out. That’s frustrating because we know they are real reviews from real people. So how do you get around the Yelp review filter? Let's jump in.
One must know one’s enemy to defeat them. So the first step is understanding the Yelp review filter and its purpose – to sift out fake reviews. Here is Yelp’s own video on how it works.
This makes sense conceptually, but it is unbelievably frustrating when your positive Yelp reviews mysteriously get filtered out.
Yelp tries to filter reviews that it thinks are likely to be fake – namely reviews generated by someone who hasn’t really gone to your dealership or are somehow influenced or slanted. Yelp takes a look at a variety of criteria, and will generally filter out reviews that are:
Note how these filtered reviews exactly fit the criteria (with the exception of the one middle review from someone who had 12 reviews but 0 friends.)
Unfortunately, Yelp also filters out other reviews that which may not fit any of the criteria. This may be because the reviewer was flagged, it triggers a "hidden" criteria, or a variety of other causes.
Most dealers are frustrated with the Yelp review filter because it also filters out the positive reviews. We at LocalVox tell our clients to request reviews from customers, their email list, people who tweet at them, etc.
The problem is that if they don’t have a long history with Yelp, they are likely going to take the minimal path, create a minimal profile and post only one slanted review – which fills all the criteria of filtered review spam above.
On one hand, you want to generate positive reviews to help your social reputation management. On the other, you are probably frustrated when so many of them get filtered out. I can relate – I've been there myself.
There are some easy things you can do to help these positive reviews avoid the dreaded Yelp filter. Interact with the Yelp reviewer or Yelp review in any way possible:
These factors are completely under your control and you should do for every positive review. You should also have someone else in your organization do them; the more the merrier. There are also things you can ask your clients or friends to do to create the type of profile that would not get filtered.
If Yelp is trying to filter reviews as spam, help your customers and friends avoid the filter by instructing them to complete their profile and start leaving reviews regularly. Ask them to invest in creating a real Yelp footprint.
I have left over 50 reviews, have over 50 friends and I have a realistic review distribution between 1 and 5 stars.
As a result, not only do my reviews never get filtered, but even better, my Yelp reviews always appear on the front page! This is because I am real. I have left real, useful reviews to businesses I frequent and look like a real person to Yelp.
Here are things you can do to help your clients and friends avoid the Yelp Review Filter:
So that’s a lot and we ordered them by level of effort. Ten minutes twice a week should give you a good profile in 2-3 weeks and then you are off to the races. Once you create a quality profile, you should be in good standing to avoid the Yelp Review Filter. If you keep it up for a prolonged period, you might even be invited to join their coveted Yelp Elite Squad.
The line here is blurry. Yelp does not want you to solicit good reviews, but it’s fine to generally ask for reviews (note not asking for the “good” part of review.”) Confusing right?
We think you should leverage every social media and customer channel to reach out for both Yelp and Google+ Local reviews. If someone is following you on email, Twitter or Facebook, they probably like what you are doing.
But never, ever pay for positive Yelp reviews because if they catch you, you will feel their wrath. No one wants be labeled a Yelp Review Cheater and this is what they will see:
If you are feeling lucky, you can use the guidance above to create a team of positive Yelp reviewers that avoid the Yelp filter and can be used for good (and evil). But this requires a lot more effort than it is worth just to get a couple positive reviews. Nothing beats creating a sustainable program to have your customers turn positive... – even if many of them get caught in the Yelp Review Filter.
For example, you might say “Hey, if you like our LocalVox blog, please leave us a review on Yelp talking about the blog” – especially if you are an active Yelper. Hint. Hint.
Most of all, recognize that positive Yelp reviews come from great experiences. The more you have, the better off you will be, Yelp Review Filter notwithstanding. If you create a positive experience for a person, you might be surprised how many will try to help your dealership.
For more tips on how to manage and promote your online reputation, check out our definitive guide to Online Reputation Management.