As a business owner, I’m sure you’ve received a call from a company promising to “erase your negative reviews from Yelp,” or claiming they can “improve your ratings” by a certain percentage.  If you carry on a conversation with them, you’ll see they offer no guarantee, and what they can attempt to do will take several months before seeing any real results.  Be very leery of what these companies are claiming to do.

Learn the difference between reviews that ARE recommended versus NOT recommended.  Yelp analytics will mark a review as Not Recommended if the reviewer is not established, meaning they rarely post reviews.  Yelp may also see the review as being an unhelpful rant, posted by a friend or family member of the business, or recognize several reviews as being generated from the same computer.  While these analytics often protect against fake negative reviews, they can often punish those users posting legitimate positive reviews. Yelp offers paid advertising, which may help you to get more of the good reviews recommended.

So how do you remove fake defamatory reviews?  Yelp recommends reporting fake reviews to the moderators.  Even if they can’t remove the seemingly fake review, they can feed the algorithms information that may deem the review unhelpful and therefore not shown to users.  When reporting, include all information on the poster so that Yelp can attempt to independently verify the user.

Reviews can, and often will, be removed if they violate the Yelp Terms of Service.  If a review is a personal attack on an employee, defamatory, derogatory, or attacks the employee based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion, etc., reporting it to Yelp will almost certainly lead to its removal.

One of the best things you can do with a fake defamatory review is ignore it.  If you reply and engage in a comment war with the user, Yelp algorithms are more likely to mark the review as recommended.  What you DON’T do is just as important.  If, however, you receive a legitimate negative review, it IS recommended that you reply.  Apologize to the user and attempt to right the wrong.  Offer a gift certificate, a free item, or another perk to the customer.  Even if they don’t take advantage of it, future users will see that you care enough to take responsibility.

Lastly, having a strong social media presence can go a long way to building your reputation.  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can help establish your business in the community with local groups.  Active Yelpers in your area are more likely to be lenient on negative reviews if there is strong activity from local patrons.

If you’re struggling with reputation management, our dedicated team is here to help.  Call us today at 800-538-0669 and start repairing your online presence.

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