The Complete Guide to Yelp Reviews: Getting, Removing & More


Yelp has been one of the most popular Internet rating and review sites for local businesses since its initial inception in 2004. Yelp founders saw that word-of-mouth was a powerful purveyor of new customers, but with the classic local community structure breaking apart in an online era, how could individuals know which businesses to trust? Yelp was the answer – an online review site in which customers shared their experiences, helping others make informed decisions about restaurants, auto-repair shops, and more.

Yelp Reviews

Many review sites have come and gone, but Yelp has continued to be a highly trusted source for local business reviews and ratings. Why? Yelp noticed that other review sites are far too cluttered with spam and ads, so they’ve kept theirs to a minimum. Yelp also focuses on long-form reviews rather than short one-liners, providing the kind of in-depth, thorough review wary customers crave. Sometimes “good coffee” just isn’t good enough.

In this complete Guide to Yelp for Businesses, we'll be covering a range of topics including:

MORE: 25 Restaurant Marketing Strategies

How Yelp Reviews Can Impact Your Business

Yelp is the #1 review site on the web and immensely powerful, making it a mighty friend or, sometimes, an abhorrent enemy.

If your business has a 3.5 star rating or above on Yelp, you’ve got the whole world in your hands and clouds in your coffee. Under 3 stars and you’ve got a hard knock life. Bad Yelp ratings have been known to ruin more than just a few businesses. There’s a lot at stake!

Worst Yelp Reviews

Dealing with such a fickle frenemy can dishearten some business owners, but don’t think ignoring Yelp will make it go away – users will write about your business on Yelp whether you activate a business page or not. In this case, it’s definitely preferable to take a pro-active approach by setting up your business’s Yelp page yourself. Fill it with colorful pics and useful information to put your best foot forward for potential customers checking you out.

How to Get Yelp Reviews

I know, I know, you want good Yelp reviews, right? Not just Yelp reviews. Well the bad news is that Yelp (understandably) doesn’t allow businesses to ask for specifically positive reviews – you can only encourage customers to review you honestly in all your blunder or glory. The good news is that if you’re a good business and doing things right, you’re likely to get good reviews! Hip hip hoorah!

There are a few strategies for getting customers to review you on Yelp.


Activate Your Yelp Page: Take the initiative by activating your Yelp page. Go all out – add photos, descriptions, menus, phone numbers, hours of operation, etc.

Post a “Find us on Yelp” Sign: Yelp out your restaurant or local biz with Yelp posters, stickers, badges, and other paraphernalia. In this plugged-in age, visitors might see those signs and head to Yelp to review you even while in your restaurant!

Yelp Signs and Stickers

Borrowed from Reward Me Blog

Host a Yelp Event: Hosting a Yelp event will encourage Yelpers to visit your business while establishing yourself as an active community member – it’s pretty much a no-brainer for getting chummy with local Yelp users

How do you host an event? It’s pretty easy. Head over to, pick your city, and hit the “Add an Event” button. Then fill out your event details.

Next it’s time to promote your awesome event! Send out the invite to Yelpers who have already visited your business, or those who have reviewed a business similar to your own. Also consider contacting a local Yelp Elite (these are mega-Yelpers with a lot of influence) and ask if they’re interested in helping you out with your event.

It’s a great idea to have some sweet swag giveaways during your Yelp event – maybe all event attendees get 10% off their meal with another 10% coupon for later. Try a raffle to win dinner with a friend, a free reusable water bottle, whatever! Make it fun and exciting for attendees!

Post a Yelp Deal: Yelp Deals are a great way to get customers in the door. Unlike with Groupon or Living Social, customers who take advantage of a Yelp Deal are pretty much guaranteed to be active Yelp users, increasingly the likelihood of them writing you a review.

yelp deals

Add Happy Staff Photos: Friendly, smiling, waving staff members being featured on your Yelp page will create a positive first impression for your Yelp page visitors, and might even discourage disgruntled customers from posting something nasty.

Offer Foursquare Check-in Rewards: Foursquare has long passed its heyday as an ultra-popular location check-in tool, but a lot of awesome folks (such as your truly) still use it to broadcast micromanaged location updates for our undying fans.

Even a small Foursquare award, like free drinks for the mayor, can get users excited. It’s also reasonable to assume that many Foursquare users are also Yelp users. After all, who is using Foursquare except for the media-obsessed foodie-photographing weirdos? Appealing to the Foursquare/Yelp user with a check-in reward might be just the push they need to write you a shining review.

Respond to Existing Yelp Reviews: It’s always a smart idea to respond to the existing Yelp reviews you do have, especially if they’re asking a specific question or voicing a concern. People like to be acknowledged, and responding to Yelp reviews creates a favorable impression for your business, and shows readers that you care about your customers.

Print Out & Display Positive Yelp Reviews: One expert technique for getting Yelp reviews is to print out and hang your existing positive Yelp review on the wall in your restaurant or business. Enlarge the reviews so that they’re easy to read, frame them, and hang them where they can easily be read by patrons waiting in line. When new customers see existing positive reviews, they’ll feel inclined to think positively of you as well and write a similarly upbeat review on Yelp.

Add a Yelp QR Code: Yelp QR codes are a simple way to make it easier for your smartphone-carrying patrons to check out your Yelp page and review you in-store!

Yelp Business

Promote On Other Networks: Ask for Yelp reviews on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks. It’s best to not sound too needy though (“Pleaaazzeee say we’re super-awesome!”). Opt for something discreet like, “We’re now on Yelp and would love to hear what you think of us!” Yelp itself suggests: Instead of blatantly saying “Review us on Yelp,” say “Check us out on Yelp”.

Add a Yelp Link to Your Newsletter: Chances are your newsletter subscribers already think you’re pretty cool. Reminding them to write about you on Yelp is a surefire way to get some positive reviews.

Add a Yelp Website Badge: A Yelp website badge lets visitors know you are on Yelp, and all they have to do is click the badge to be taken straight to your Yelp page. It doesn’t get much easier than that

Be Awesome: If you provide excellent food, excellent service, and an excellent experience, you will get great Yelp reviews, no question about it. Be the best you can be and the glowing reviews will follow!


Offer Bribes for Reviews: Yelp is very strict in regards to their reviews policy. You absolutely cannot and should not offer a reward in exchange for a review. Even something as innocent as “half off your next meal when you review us on Yelp” is a big no-no and can get you in serious trouble with Yelp’s powers that be.

Ask for Positive Reviews: As discussed earlier, don’t ask specifically for positive reviews, just reviews in general.

Buy Yelp Reviews: We’ll be talking more about this later. Just know for now that buying Yelp reviews is not worth the trouble by a long shot.

How to Handle Negative Reviews on Yelp

The truth is that you can’t please everyone in life. Even great businesses get some negative reviews on Yelp from time to time. It sucks. Sometimes businesses mess up and deserve to be called out. Other times a bad review can feel completely undeserved.

What to do When You Get a Negative Yelp Review

1.     Don’t Respond Immediately: Having a Yelper really bash your business can be painful, and your initial response may involve hair-pulling, obscenities, and some ALL CAPS action. Responding to one rant with another won’t do you any good – in fact, it will only multiply the damage. Instead of responding in a flurry of keystrokes, take a deep breath, brew a cup of tea, and get your mind off the review. Don’t even think about responding for at least a half a day – taking two or three days to cool down is even better.

2.     Analyze the Reviewer’s Mindset: After a few days, the scathing review won’t seem quite as searing. Try to read the negative Yelp review objectively – is there any sense to what the Yelper is saying? Does the review seem worked up and emotional?

3.     Public or Private Response? While public responses are good for correcting discrepancies, consider whether or not a discreet private message could remedy the situation.

4.     Address the Review’s Issues in a Calm and Reasonable Manner

Yelp has a feature that allows business owners to respond to negative reviews. The key is to remain calm and take the high road. Above all, remain polite and respectful. Those who bypass step one end up responding to negative reviews in an angry, emotional state which can lead to name-calling, insults, and emotional language that makes you look as terrible and unstable as the reviewer, or more so.

Your goal in responding to the reviewer is to discredit their assessment. It might not take much to do this – Yelp readers weren’t born yesterday, and most can spot an unreasonable and baseless rant when they see one. If the negative Yelp review makes claims you can argue against, do so objectively, using facts or other customers’ experiences as a talking point. For example:

“Gretchen, we were very disappointed to hear you didn’t enjoy our cheesecake. Other customers have told us it’s their favorite of our desserts, but maybe you caught us on an off day.”

If you think the reviewer is just in their admonishment, simply apologize. Readers will appreciate your honesty and think better of you for it.

Responding in a cool and collected manner to a senseless rant makes you seem much more reasonable than the emotionally-fueled reviewer, and casts the unfavorable light on them rather than you.

5.     A Touch of Humor

The make-em-laugh technique doesn’t work in every situation, but it can be great at diffusing an overtly flaming review. For example, check out this REAL review of Pigalle (this review was posted on Facebook, but same rules apply!).

Wow. I don't have a clue as to why you would think that throwing pumpkin chunks into a cold pre baked pie shell and then covering it with a cream sauce that literally tasted like vomit. { I am very serious!} and topping it off with whipped cream that was runny would in any way be something that can be called pumpkin pie?"

Not something any business owner wants to see. Unfortunately, the owner answered back with an even more venomous reply, demonstrating a perfect example of how NOT to respond to a bad review. Instead, he should have tried something like:

Hi Sandy. Wow! That bad huh? I haven’t had the chance to sample too many varieties of vomit, so I can’t say I can really relate to your experience, but that doesn’t sound too fun. We tend to be very busy during Thanksgiving so it’s possible that one of our chefs made a mistake with that Pumpkin Pie – we’re sorry you found it so truly gag-inducing. Come by again and we’ll see if we can make it up to you with something more to your liking J

6.     Offer an Olive Branch: If you think there’s any saving the situation, try to offer a symbol of peace – send a private message inviting the displeased reviewer back for a tour of the bakery or a free desert. Yelp has an update function that reviewers can use to change their initial review. Everyone likes to feel important – feeding a disgruntled user’s ego can sometimes quell the fury, and may lead them to reconsider their opinion of you.

7.     Make Use of Constructive Criticism

Remember – bad reviews aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Negative reviews that are deserved and just serve as real feedback on how you can improve your business. If reviewers bring up legitimate concerns, work to address them and then let the Yelp community know you’ve made efforts to improve. Customers will appreciate this – it shows you care and are listening to their input.

8.     Keep Things in Perspective: Don’t hang up your hat and cry yourself to sleep every time you find a bad review. Even great businesses get a bad review from time to time. As Yelp says:

 “Negative reviews are an unfortunate — but entirely normal — part of doing business… While it's important to look for patterns in your reviews (the bread is stale, the same employee is repeatedly described as rude), you should take any individual perspective with a grain of salt.”

Don’t stress over every review. People can be particularly nasty online, so be prepared to thicken up your skin a bit and ignore the mindless ranters.

For more information on tricks, techniques, and examples of how to deal with a bad Yelp review, check out this article about Protecting Your Online Reputation from Trolls by John Greathouse. He offers more great tips on dealing with negative reviews and diffusing tense situations.

Haters Gonna Hate: Embracing the Negative Yelp Reviews?

Most businesses try to negate the effects of bad Yelp reviews by diffusing anger and answering concerns, but others choose to take the daredevil approach of embracing the haters.

Those have thrown in the towel simply accept that the majority of patrons despise them. For some, there is an appeal at being the outcast.

Bad Yelp Reviews

The “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach really only works with restaurants and businesses that embrace a counter-culture lifestyle and have patrons who might revel in the disapproval of others.

The Craft & Commerce Gastropub is one such establishment, offering very unusual, even bizarre spins on classic drinks. After receiving some vehement one-star reviews, Craft & Commerce decided that, rather than brood over the poor reviews, they’d have some fun with them. The owner had friends read aloud the restaurant’s worst Yelp reviews while recording them. The recordings were then played in the Craft & Commerce Gastropub’s bathroom, amusing visitors and sticking it to the Yelp man. 

Despite the unique and clever approach, the bathroom recordings backfired when Craft & Commerce Gastropub got blasted with a slew of more one-star review from patrons who aspired to have their reviews featured in the bathroom.

Mocking absurd Yelp reviews has become a bit of a fad in fact – there’s even a whole YouTube channel dedicated to showing video clips of Yelp reviews read by actors.

There is some logic in going gung-ho with the one-star reviews. Some would even say one star is better than two; a one-star establishment drives curiosity and gets people wondering why are they so incredibly terrible? What’s the story there? There’s a kind of car crash rubbernecking morbid fascination involved with one-star restaurants. Two stars is just a sub-par joint, no story or excitement there. 

Can You Remove Yelp Reviews?

Sometimes. Yelp will not remove any reviews unless they are in conflict with their Terms of Service or Content Guidelines.

Some things that violate Yelp’s TOS:

  • Writing a fake or defamatory review
  • Promoting another business  or other commercial venture
  • Rants about a business's employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don't address the core of the consumer experience

Below, you'll find some guidelines of what kids of reviews can potentially be removed from Yelp (via ReviewPush):

removing negative yelp reviews

If the bad Yelp reviews you want removed don’t violate Yelp’s terms, your best bet is to either publicly defend your business using the points noted earlier, or privately contact the reviewer and try to convince them to remove or update the review following a second visit. Appeal to their better nature!

Avoid self-proclaimed “Reputation Management Companies” that claim (for a fee, naturally) they can remove Yelp reviews from your Yelp page.

Yelp Reviews Disappear

This is a scam – Yelp does not take bribes or financial incentives for review removals, it’s simple as that. There are also some rumors around town that those who advertise with Yelp are given the option to remove negative Yelp reviews from their business page, but this is 100% false. Yelp will not remove a review unless it is against their Terms of Service.

Should You Buy Yelp Reviews?

We’ve discussed the pros and cons of buying Twitter followers and even buying Pinterest followers online in the past, but with Yelp, the issue isn’t really up for debate – don’t do it!

Buying Yelp reviews is definitely not worth the risk. Since Yelp’s main selling point is the authenticity and trust of its reviews as compared to lesser review sites, Yelp protects its legitimacy by tooth and claw.

If you’re caught buying Yelp reviews, you could end up with this on your Yelp page, which would be a PR disaster and a half!

Fake Yelp Reviews

Now that’s a public shaming! Don’t let it happen to you.

Posting Fake Reviews on Yelp

The Yelp Review Filter & Fake Yelp Reviews

The Yelp review filter was deigned by Yelp to help filter out fake reviews, leaving users with only real, legitimate reviews to base their consumer decisions around.

How does the filter decide what are fake Yelp reviews and what are real reviews?

Yelp reviews that are usually filtered are:

  • From users who have only written one review
  • From users who have little to no profile information (profile photo, links to other social media networks, personal description, et.)
  • Questionable objectivity – reviews that are strongly slanted positively or negatively
  • Short and have very few details
  • Written by friends, staff members, or other unreliable sources
  • Reviews where it seems that the reviewer has not personally visited the business

The Yelp filter gives preference to established reviewers who have reviewed multiple businesses and have fully built out profiles while filtering away reviews with questionable authenticity.

While the Yelp filter seems fine in theory, in practice it can be a mixed bag. The filter isn’t perfect, and many businesses complain that the filter removes legitimate reviews in addition to fake Yelp reviews. There’s no denying a need for such a filter system though – the Stanford-based research firm Gartner predicts that as many as 15% of reviews on social media sites could be paid-for fakes by 2014.

Filtered reviews can be found at the bottom of a Yelp business page, and can be viewed by any users who care to click.

Filtered Yelp Reviews

Some filtered reviews below:

Yelp Business

Above, you’ll see that most of the filtered reviews are from profiles with no image, no friends, little engagement, and very short, uninformative text.

Yelp takes their job as the honest review gatekeeper very seriously. Yelp conducts sting operations to find businesses paying for reviews, and in Business Week’s test, Yelp was the only review site out of seven others to successfully detect and filter each and every fake consumer review presented.

Yelp’s automated review filter system filters around 20% of the more than 39 million reviews. That’s a hefty chunk of reviews, and when every star counts, it’s no wonder businesses are left feeling apprehensive.

It may not be entirely fair, but that’s the cost of protecting consumers. As we’ve seen from Google’s Panda algorithm, even filters with the best of intentions can end up hurting the innocent. Dolphins get trapped in tuna traps, and birds get hit by windmills; such is life.

Of course more legitimate, real reviews make it past the Yelp filter than those that do not. Trustworthy and useful content should come out ahead.

How to Avoid the Yelp Review Filter

There are a few steps you can take to better your chances of having a review get through the dreaded Yelp filter. Business can make efforts to engage the review and reviewer by:

  • Adding the reviewer as a friend
  • Upvoting the review as funny, useful, cool, etc.
  • Sending the reviewer a compliment (Yelp’s tool for letting other Yelpers call a user out for an awesome review)

If you’re a user who wants to avoid having your reviews hit the Yelp filter, make efforts to:

  • Write Lots of Yelp Reviews: If someone’s account has obviously been made with the purpose of just reviewing one restaurant or business, that brings up some serious red flags for Yelp. The more reviews you write, the more authentic you seem. at least 10 reviews will make you much less likely to sound the Yelp review alarm. Make sure your reviews are legitimate though – you should us the range of 1-5 stars. Writing all fantastic or all terrible reviews look suspicious.
  • Fill Out Your Profile: Add profile pics, a personal description, etc.
  • Connect to Your Other Social Media Accounts: Connect your account to Facebook and Twitter for an added dose of authenticity.
  • Add Yelp Friends: Add friends to Yelp and interact with them by complimenting, voting their reviews as funny, etc. Your engagement with other users shows that you’re a real user who is part of the Yelp community.
  • Leave Tips (in Addition to Reviews): Tips are for users to add a quick pithy statement when they check in somewhere using the Yelp mobile app. Tips show your full range of motion as an online user.
  • Steady & Consistent: Don’t just blast a hundred reviews in the span of a few days. Take the time to strengthen your reputation by reviewing various local businesses over the course of several weeks or months.

Don’t Fear the Yelp – Embrace it!

I know we’ve talked a lot today about some of the scarier aspects of Yelp with its raging customers rants and threatening filters, but Yelp really is a pretty neat community that’s just trying to help consumers make smart decisions in regards to local biz.

Yelp Business Page

Don’t be afraid – most Yelp reviews are great! Yelp did a study in 2011, and found that nearly 40% of reviews posted on Yelp are 5 star reviews!

Reviews on Yelp

For the most part, Yelpers are users who want to give small local businesses credit where it is truly due.

As long as you operate a great business that gives folks a reason to smile and manage your bad reviews with grace and poise, you’ll find Yelp can do amazing things for your business!

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Christian Sculthorp
Jul 22, 2013

What a useful guide. I'll definitely be referring my clients to this article if they're looking for more yelp reviews.Thank you very much, I love finding articles that I can actually use.. There's way too much rehashed stuff out there.

Marketing Martians
Jul 23, 2013

If you have clients, refer them to us, we'll get them the results they want. We do Yelp reputation services.

Megan Marrs
Jul 23, 2013

Ahh, well, you can see in the post that I actually advice against contacting businesses that offer Yelp reputation services as it's my understanding that they tend to be scammy. Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures...

Megan Marrs
Jul 23, 2013

Thanks so much Christian, glad you like the guide! We aim to please around here.

Jul 22, 2013

Well done article, but I don't recommend that businesses support yelp by hosting events, directing people to yelp in general or even claiming your page. As soon as you claim your page, generally, the Yelp sales calls begin. In my and MANY other cases, when you refuse to purchase advertising, your positive reviews start dropping into the filter. Yelp always has a patent answer saying "we dont do that" but there are thousands of documented cases. I had reviews by experienced yelpers who had been up for over a year go into the filter leaving us with NO stars rather than the eleven legitimate five star reviews we had. Yelp manipulates their system/ filter to serve their own interest despite their claim of integrity for the consumer or whatever, so if you can support OTHER review sites, DO IT. They have more integrity. Besides, feeding a bully only makes it stronger and until Yelp stops doing this, and revises their filter to allow more authentic reviews not to be filtered, they do not deserve to be given more power or investor money. A good example is the "elites" spoken about here. If yelp is really interested in the "average" experience, what is average about people who receive invites to parties complete with free everything, who then go home and write tons of reviews on a regular basis? Often these elites use their percieved power to ask for discounts, comps, etc implying they might turn to Yelp to be critical of the businesses.  Yet businesses cannot suggest that their customers review their experience? How is that not a double standard or representative of an "average" experience? Often "hit job" one star reviews written by competitors, or just unreasonable people who are power tripping, (that clearly violate the terms of service) stay up, while a companies legitimate positive reviews are filtered. It is completely reasonable that normal people (who only want to write a review, not make a lifestyle of it) who have a great experience somewhere might be moved to write a review, and Yelps filtering of those reviews hides a real piece of the picture from consumers, which can be very harmful to the business and a complete wast of time for those writing a review.. Yet yelp just says, "it happens, deal with it"? If I earn a positive review, it should be shown. Whether I advertise or not.

Victor Pan
Jul 22, 2013

Hi James,I hear you. If there's a system of reviews or rankings, there's always an underground system or reviews or rankings also going on. Yelp reviews are bought and sold to try to game the system, and there's nothing preventing a competitor from buying "positive" reviews for your business to get you punished.Like any community, there's always going to be power users, and then there are those who lurk around - the average user. One of the major setbacks of online reviews is that you're only getting the feedback from the most vocal users - brand loyalists or dissatisfied customers. That's why we believe it's to your business' best interest to document and respond back to extremely negative feedback.

Jul 22, 2013

Victor,I think that there is a something to be said for showing all of the reviews and letting people decide. That being said, the filter is a pretty good idea, I just disagree with a one size fits all approach and its execution. For instance, we are a specialized higher end business that caters to older women who just aren't usually going to be active yelpers, so the filter (and perhaps the fact we declined to advertise) just kind of screws us consistently. Despite our eleven 5 star reviews that are in the filter, we're fortunate to have a No star rating (as strange as it sounds) , as even a one star that clearly violated the terms of service would likely never be taken down by Yelp. This scenario happens frequently, and fails to accurately  represent the very "average customer experience" Yelp claims it wants to protect. This has serious ramafications for any business caught up in it.While I agree that you might need to do damage control, evaluate your processes and possibly respond if you are a business recieving bad reviews, I still think that no one should help to generate any other content for Yelp until it improves the filter alglorithm. It might sound good for Yelp to just explain how businesses are just supposed to use Yelp better, but to those whose business yelps filter damages, its adding insult to injury. Additionally their "elite" program aimed squarely at generate content (which equals more investment dollars) along with repeated complaints of review manipulation upon failing to advertise leaves Yelp with no credibility at all in the eyes of many.So I opt for a spread the word, and don't support Yelp in any way approach. Like any other business model, Yelp needs to learn to adapt as well. Certainly their filter could be improved couldn't it, as no one get's it perfectly the first time? After a look at any of the investor articles about the company, one can see they are haunted by a flawed business model and repeated claims of extortion. They have never made a profit, so there is basically a lot of hype and speculation driving them to monetize the business model by any means necessary. Their purchase of Seatme, and exploration of monetizing the site in other ways show's they can adapt. Hopefully with Google, Facebook and some of the other players closing in on this market, Yelp will realize that even Yelp can use a little improvement here and there, stop damaging the businesses they hope to profit from and restore some of the credibility they've lost. In the meantime, I'll support Google.

Victor Pan
Jul 22, 2013

Wow James,Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of our blog audience. I am adding a link to the top of the blog to your response.We will leave the decision up to our readers. Caveat emptor!

Megan Marrs
Jul 23, 2013

Yes James, thank you SO much for sharing your experience! It's really important to hear from all sides in a discussion, and you've offered a unique viewpoint that I know readers will find valuable. I'm sorry to hear Yelp hasn't been working out well for you, and I hope that changes in the future.Again, thanks for sharing!

Jan 10, 2016

Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to
mention that I've really enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts.
After all I'll be subscribing to your feed and I'm hoping you
write once more soon!

Jul 31, 2013

James,Yelp is so very dead on correct. Our business has been target were old positive reviews have been pulled to the tune of 50% of our reviews. Many of these reviews by people who have reviewed a few places, but do not make a career out of it. While we do not advertise with Yelp, the restaurant across the street from us has both hosted a party and advertised. There reviews stand, except bad ones get pulled. Hmmm? Yelp is a scam, that has allowed a competing business and yelp itself to target a business. Really 50% of reviews pulled. Filter is not legit!!

Sep 26, 2013

 I couldn't agree more! Actually Yelp recently removed a good review from a legitimate customer and kept a bad/very false review from someone who, if you check his previous reviews to other businesses, have truly dedicated to write only bad reviews. I called yelp and apparently a bad review will always win over a good one!  

Apr 05, 2014

Hello everyone,This is a great article. I need some suggestions. I recently found about 2 negative Yelp reviews about my business. I’m not sure the authenticity of these reviews. One of them is from back in 2011 and one from last year 2013. I always ignored Yelp or other social media as I don’t advertise my business. I’m a health professional. My questions are. Do I need to respond to these reviews and establish a yelp account? Let me say that this business is been closed and I operate in a new location and a new business name, however my name appears in one of the negative review. Should I list my new business name as a completely new business or modify what yelp have listed and respond to the reviews?My Yelp ratings appears 2.5 star, although I’m not sure if this has affected to my business in anyway as I’m quite busy in my practice.Any suggestion is very much appreciated in advance. Thanks,Fabrizia

Local SEO Star
Aug 15, 2013

Yelp acts like they have a sophisticated algorithm, yet all they do is filter all reviews, until you pay them. Pure garbage.

Do not trust Yelp
Sep 01, 2013

I was really disappointed with Yelp.  It seems like competitors can add bad reviews about your business and when you let Yelp know about it they do not believe you.  Somebody made an email account and a fake name, gave a bad review, made personal remarks and yet Yelp refused to remove the review.  Instead they removed good reviews from my clients who connected via facebook and google plus sites and are obviously real people.  Their reviews got filtered.  Also, you cannot remove your business from Yelp easily,  you are entirely at their mercy.  Does Yelp want small business to fail? Is there a way to find out the real name/IP Address of the person who is writing these fake reviews?

Jim Zuber
Sep 07, 2013

Very thorough & well-written post.  As for me, I’m basically a “one & done” service provider.   99% of my clients are seniors, so they’re less likely to be on the internet, let alone “Yelping”.  Their circle of friends shrinks daily and they don’t get out as often their counterparts.  And true, many times I’m found by their children - when their parent’s situation gets to the point where my services are needed (converting existing tubs to walk-in showers). So these may be my potential “Yelpers”. My initial reason for reading this post was to see if I could find a link that I could pass on to these potential Yelpers, (particularly if they are not already Yelping).  However I became concerned when I read about some of the Yelp’s filtering criteria: i.e. this is reviewer's 1st  (and probably only review); the reviewer hadn’t set up a profile (yea, like me choosing not to be on Facebook -and please no “lecturing” why my business should be Facebooking); the reviewer is not seen by Yelp as a FYU (frequent Yelp user), etc.  With mostly A+ reviews on Angie’s List, I’m afraid that pursuing Yelp reviews might just be taking me down a “rabbit-hole, since with only a marginal amount of clients every year, I’ve yet to meet someone who confesses to Yelping.

Sep 30, 2013

We are so frustrated with Yelp.

We had two reviews so popped on our Facebook a message that said, we have only 2 reviews on Yelp s if you think we deserve more here's the link, just be aware there are no prizes just good karma.

We had 6 people from our Facebook page go vo and leave 5 star comments...yelp removed all of them...but in the last 2 days they let a 2 star from a person that didn't even eat in our cafe, another who liked the food but have it two stars because one staff member appears a but cold, and another that gives one star calling our footy tasteless then tells them to go to the Mexican food van that pulls in to twin at lunch time without having to pay rent. So all of these stay, but any of the other 5 star reviews don't get on.

We're doing up to 1000 covers a week with just. 35 seats inside and yet our rating still sits at 2 out of 5 because they won't show positive reviews. Grrr!

Oct 12, 2013

Would like to respond to a review. Do you know if there is a limit to the number of words you can use in your response?

Zeki Ozcan
Nov 14, 2013

 - Every single one of my reviews from last four years it has been filtered!!!- From frustration I canceled the contract they forced me to pay in full for the year ($315.00 a month)- I am not sure if YELP is working on promoting its name in small business owners behalf and fulling us by nonsense    meaningless excuses or what? - I have given up on them because it makes me angry to watch the competition that is paying they filter mine to make   to look good!    

Apr 23, 2014

Is it legal to post a yelp review on a website?

Matthew Silva
Jul 13, 2014

Sometimes yelp can greatly hurt small businesses, when I go out if I have a good time I often do not leave a review. Although if I go to a restaurant and have a bad experience than I can use yelp and other review sites to get back at the business for giving me bad service. I know many businesses who are struggling because of one negative review that they cannot just get away from. I don't believe that this is very fair for businesses. This is why I believe its best to find these people who have had a great time but just didn't leave a review, and pay them for their time. I am the founder of Odbyte and this is what I have done seeing so many business owners being wronged. I found real people who want to leave authentic reviews for places they had visited.

karin C
Oct 28, 2014

I love Yelp nd Yelp is helpful.1. Yelp is a good source to get information.2. Yelp is a good place to express opinions through eithe thanks or anger.3. Yelp also provides a special way to solve problems.  I have bad experience with doctors and attorneys. They did not care about what they said and they did since nobody knows.  They smply ignored me whenI contacted them.  After my reviews showed on Yelp, they contacted me to solve the problms I had with them.  

Nov 20, 2014

If you tell yelp that your legal entity is closing and the business is dissolving will they close the page then? 

John R
Dec 08, 2014

I have a customer that going out of his way to attack my business. He is flat out lying and I have no idea why he is doing this to me. I attempted to contact him to find out why he is doing this but  no response so I had his review flagged and removed but all he did was revise his review and triple the attack. I think his motives are based on something other than what he is saying. I have made a rebuttle but this person is viciously attacking my company without cause. 

Megan Marrs
Oct 04, 2013

Hey Jim,Thanks for commenting, it's great to hear from real business owners. Congratulations on the solid Angie's List rating, that's fantastic! I understand your hesitance towards Yelp, but the thing is, whether or not you pursue to take ownership of your page doesn't really matter - customers can review your business on Yelp, even if you haven't set up your own Yelp business page yet. That's why I recommend being proactive and putting your best foot forward - set up your page, add images, do some of the other things suggested in this post.Whether it's worth your time to actively encourage Yelp reviews - well, that's your call I suppose. I'd be surprised to find people out there who review business on Angie's List but not Yelp, however, I suppose it's possible. Yelp does a solid job of snatching up "review" keywords, so in my opinion it's worth it to put some time into Yelp. If you already have a solid rating on Angie's List, I would think Yelp could only bolster your brand.Anyway, let us know how it goes! And thanks for reading.

Megan Marrs
Oct 04, 2013

Sorry to hear that Rick, that stinks! I'm afraid the only thing you can do to really combat the negative ratings is to get more 5 star ratings. Eventually some will stick. Don't give up!

help me write an essay
Jan 07, 2017

Fantastic site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to a few friends ans additionally sharing in delicious.
And obviously, thanks on your sweat!

Randall Magwood
Jul 23, 2013

Thanks for explaining Yelp to me. I've heard of Yelp, but i've totally ignored the site. I'm not a typical social media fan, but the explanation of how to use it for marketing in this blog post just made it simpler for me. Thanks.

Megan Marrs
Jul 23, 2013

Glad to help Randall! I've always considered Yelp primarily for restaurants, but I they do deal in all areas of local commerce.

Jul 30, 2013

James,   You are so correct in your review of how bad Yelp actually is, and that really they are out for themselves. We have had reviews never appear, even though we know they were written. We have had reviews pulled after 8 months on our page. While reviews from our page are pulled for being "too positive" or one of the only reviews written by a reviewer. How is a review that is 4 or 5 stars too positive? Shouldn't the people rave? We have complained to Yelp, and matters have only gotten worse! Our last 7 reviews have all been pulled. Strange? We had a neighbor come for the first time to our restaurant, and he gave us 4 stars. He liked what he had, said he would be back. He had written 8 other reviews, and yet he was pulled. Another a Mother and Daughter were visiting New Orleans, and said this was the best food they had. The Mother called on the next Weds. to make sure how to describe what she had, and to think us again. Her daughters review was pulled in less than an hour, and the Mothers in less than 7 hours. Funny? We only have 11 reviews on our page, and 12 filtered 10 (5's), 1 (4), and 1 (3). Is  it easy to see those "Filtered" reviews, NO. You have to know how to go see them, that they exist, and to be able to type in one of those blurry "words". How many people are really going to do that? Now, we know the business across the street is sabotaging our page asking for reviews to be removed, and yet they have 10 employee reviews, as well as "quest" reviews, and offer a free drink to their yelpers. Oh, and they advertise with yelp! Don't use yelp, they play games!!

Megan Marrs
Aug 12, 2013

Sorry to hear that Kevin, I totally understand your frustration. I'd be angry too! Keep up the good work - hopefully your future reviews won't end up getting caught in that dreaded filter. Best of luck!

Christopher Beeker
Aug 03, 2013

You have written one of the best articles i have read concerning Yelp.  Our company really likes the amount of business our Yelp reviews are generating. We have had many legitimate reviews taken out by the filter and naturally we're not too pleased about this, but all said and done our customers love reading about us and we like the new referral source of business. 

Megan Marrs
Aug 12, 2013

Hey Chris, thanks a TON! That means a lot. Glad to hear Yelp is working out for you. It stinks that so many businesses are losing positive reviews to the Yelp filter. Really great to hear from a businesses making the most of Yelp and getting a lot out of it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Jun 11, 2015

I agree with you megan. so many positive reviews lost

Tafa Hossian
Mar 15, 2016

Relay great post, I noted a lot of points before I start yelping :) can you please tell when Yelp close user account, once I had this bad experience and stopped yelping.

Apr 03, 2016


Jon Symons
Apr 27, 2016

Having a weird experience. I've just responded to 3 reviews on Yelp and now the "post a public response" button is no longer showing on any of the other reviews. It still offers a button to send the reviewer a private message, but I can't do anymore review responses. I've never noticed this before... I assume there's a maximum number of public responses per day, but can't find any mention of it in Yelp's help files.

Apr 29, 2016

Hi there, you can only post up to 3 or 5 comments publically per day, I cannot remember which it was. Just an FYI. You can do more the following day.

Hope this helps.

Aug 23, 2016

Yelp needs to reasses the 3 ratings you allow users to rate reviews placed by others. Seriously? You have the option to rate it as either useful, or funny, or cool? What kind if ratings are those that does not provide a fair assessment because if someone provides un-useful info, no one can point that out. How about we get to rate Yelp?

Nov 17, 2016

The problem is that Yelp forces organizations to play on Yelp's turf. This leads to many conflicts of interest with Yelp, inc and the payed business and services Yelp is involved in.

It's been well documented and written about that Yelp manipulates and filters reviews. They force Organization of all types to play on their platform regardless. This is because anyone can add any organization to Yelp and then add or say anything (typically a negative irrational rant) they want.

There is no true free speech with Yelp as the platform contends. It's a platform for bullies to be bullies and for both Yelp and bullies to shake down organizations in various ways and for Yelp to make money on making your organization look better if you purchase Yelp's paid services. The Yelp platform simply perpetuates such platforms on the internet to the lowest common denominator and increases costs of doing business for everyone.

Abby Jones
Jun 12, 2017

As always, it’s a well-written blog with in-depth content. Good to know the in-and-out of Yelp reviews.

Abby Jones (

Leave a comment