Automotive Digital Marketing

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Yelp: Money Cannot Buy You Love! (Reputation Management)

On Yelp, Money Can Only Buy Advertising...

So. You might be wondering: If a car dealer pays Yelp to advertise…

  • Do they get a higher Yelp review rating?
  • Do they get more of their negative reviews filtered or removed?
  • Can the car dealer recommend more of their positive Yelp reviews?

No. No. And… No.

Automotive Advertisers Get Ads... Period.

There’s no amount of money a car dealer or any other business can pay to manipulate Yelp reviews or ratings... The FACTS are that Yelp doesn’t skew things in favor of advertisers or against car dealers or any other businesses that don’t pay for advertizing on Yelp.

But you don’t have to take Yelp's word for it.

An independent academic study (not commissioned or paid for by Yelp) found that advertising plays no role in how reviews are recommended on Yelp.

Or as this in-depth profile of Yelp in BuzzFeed puts it:

“Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca has co-authored a new study that effectively debunks the extortion theory.”

Is Yelp A Bully Or Just Misunderstood?

The online reviewing behemoth is regularly accused of Mafia-style extortion by disgruntled business owners and the media. But even as Ivy League researchers debunk the conspiracy theories, the company’s shadowy reputation remains intact. Why is it so hard to believe that Yelp might actually be fair? Read entire article at the source 

Car Dealers Have Sued Yelp

Yelp Advertising Blackmail Conspiracy theorists have had their day in court on more than one occasion, but courts have repeatedly dismissed their lawsuits claiming that ratings and reviews on Yelp are somehow tied to advertising.

You can find the media reports here:

How To Spot Fake Car Dealer Reviews:

Prove it for yourself through these simple Google search results (SERP) tests...

If advertisers could control their reviews, then you’d expect them all to have perfect 5-star ratings on Yelp. Spoiler alert: They don’t.

To test this, do a few searches in broad categories in your area - maybe for a Ford dealer, Oil Change shop, or Tire dealer. You’ll find ads for businesses with all sorts of Yelp star ratings. Conversely, you’ll find thousands of businesses in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) organic listing with great ratings that don’t pay Yelp a dime, and outside of the Yelp 500+ sales team professionals, Yelp is fine with that...

Ask yourself this question:

"Has a sales person in your dealership EVER told a customer something that was not true in an attempt to close a sale?"

Still don’t believe Yelp?

Feel free to do the following version of a simple Google Search Engine test that will reveal business advertisers on Yelp with negative reviews... Here is an example version that you can modify in the search query box on [ “Yelp advertiser” AND “rude staff”]

Make relevant to your dealership by inserting your own negative phrases in the last set of quotation marks. The reason this works so well is that the keywords;

"Yelp advertiser"

only appear on Google indexed pages of car dealers and other businesses that actually pay for advertising on Yelp... This begs the question:

"...if these Yelp advertisers get a special “Delete” button for negative reviews, why in the world aren’t they using it?"
(Hint: because it doesn’t exist.)

Search results from the Yelp iPhone app:

Views: 807

Tags: Customer Review, Dealership Reviews, Ratings, Reputation Management, Reviews, Yelp


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Comment by Steve Tamulewicz on June 10, 2015 at 2:14pm

Yelp is more popular on the west coast. The area you are in has not adopted it as widely as CA, NV, AZ, etc. For you it will take a little more effort to find the Yelpers. Don't put a bribe for reviews in writting. Yelp can penalize your account.  Brad, you have 76 "unrecommended" reviews and only 3 stuck. The bad reviews will almost always stick, even if somebody just created a new account. You may want to put a program together that offers a discount if the person can give you a review that sticks. You need to turn around those 2 bad reviews. 

Comment by Brad Solomon on June 10, 2015 at 1:36pm

So my question is, how do these dealers get so many reviews to stick and show up?  The dealers in the search above all have dozens of reviews that stick.  Is this just because the people in those areas tend to be more "yelp savvy" so their reviews are going to be more highly recommended?  I have 80 or so Yelp reviews, most of them are excellent, and only 3 show up on our page.  I don't really get it.

Comment by Steve Tamulewicz on June 10, 2015 at 8:53am

Yelp is very powerful not only in how people give the reviews credibility but Google gives them a lot of weight as well. I have been in the internet marketing arena for over 10 years and Yelp has improved over time. The last 2 years they seem to have cleaned up how they deal with business owners, but prior to that there are many business owners that I personally know that have been bullied by Yelp in many ways. Again, that was then this is now. The key to Yelp these days is finding people who are "Yelpers". To be a Yelper, you need to have several posted reviews or use Yelp to "check in" on a regular basis. If you create a new Yelp account and expect your positive review to stick, you will be disappointed. However, Yelp does favor bad reviews. So, those will tend to stick. As far as getting more positive Yelp reviews, it does not hurt to ask your customers that have had a positive experience to comment about it on Yelp. Those who are Yelpers know how and that simple request will be all that is required to make it happen. Those who don't know how will only be wasting their time attempting it anyway. 

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