More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Sounds like Yelp is doing even more to crack down on review spam.


In a post yesterday is appears they are even more focused on multiple reviews from the same IP, review stations and continue to crack down on incentivized reviews.

I sure would not want to be one of these businesses they outed!

<a href="">Attempts to Mislead Consumers? Not On Our Watch!</a>

We have just issued a new round of Consumer Alerts that let people know when we?ve caught a business trying to artificially inflate Yelp reviews. The reason so many people use Yelp is because of the lengths we go to showcase the most helpful and reliable consumer reviews among the millions that we receive. Our recommendation software routinely sifts through mountains of data to highlight the reviews that best reflect the opinions of the Yelp community. We also employ an investigative team to identify and expose people who are actively trying to mislead consumers.

For example, some businesses try to bias reviews in their favor by incentivizing people to write positive reviews. Our team caught this appliance repair company offering to pay reviewers $15 per review via an ad on Craigslist.

This team also looks for businesses that have received a disproportionate number of spammy reviews, like those that originate from the same IP address. We found more than 245 dubious reviews for Las Vegas-based AAA Anytime Inc and 52 for Philadelphia?s Pets and the City.

So, what?s going on? Unfortunately some businesses are trying to sneak through fake reviews in an effort to boost their reputations on Yelp and other review sites. Others may be encouraging their customers to write reviews from the store, which may not sound all that bad until you ask yourself just how objective you?d be if you were at the dentist?s office and she dropped an iPad on your lap and asked you to write her a quick Yelp review. Solicited reviews are often biased and don?t result in the most accurate overall portrayal of that business. You can also be assured that businesses are almost never asking their unhappy customers for reviews.

We have zero tolerance for those who are trying to manipulate their online reputations in an effort to get ahead of hard-working business owners who are playing by the rules. We encourage businesses to take a hands off approach when it comes to receiving reviews and take advantage of the free suite of tools Yelp provides business owners who are interested in joining the conversations that are happening about them online.

Links to the reported business listings removed.
Click over to the YELP article to see all the links.


You gotta love/hate Yelp. They are, of course, right and justified to combat fake, spammy, paid or otherwise fraudulent reviews, a huge menace that threatens to destroy the value of customer reviews for consumers and businesses alike.

This expansion of their scarlet-letter "consumer alert" program is therefore not surprising. And their policy against submissions from the same IP--whether by employees or customer "kiosk"--is, I believe, fair. In any case, others like Google+ share this prohibition since the probability of abuse is high.

But Yelp's moralistic, we-know-better tone about "playing by the rules" always grinds my gears. The idea that a "hands off" approach to customer feedback yields the most honest, representative feedback is plainly false. The research literature often refers to what is called the "adverse reviewer problem"--the truism that a disgruntled customer is far more likely to take the initiative to "set straight" or "punish" a business that "wronged" them than a happy customer is to praise them.

If you want representative feedback, you should ask all customers for it.
You know, my theory is that Yelp doesn't really *want* representative reviews, anyway. (Sorry, the gears are really grinding now ;)) It is a company oriented 100% towards providing value to the consumer, but since the consumer won't pay for anything, Yelp has bolted on some business solutions--which, in my experience, are sold to business owners who hope in vain it will ease pain caused by Yelp! But I digress...

Yelp's value proposition to the consumer is not accuracy, it's differentiation. Truly representative review profiles of most businesses would tilt positive. Most business owners are hard-working, customer-oriented, etc. And therefore most customer reviews are quite positive: In fact, the distribution of reviews on the Web follows a J-curve with mostly 5- and 4-star reviews, diminishing rapidly down the scale.

But consumers turn to Yelp to figure out where to get lunch in a new city, and accuracy isn't going to help them narrow it down. Yelp helps by publishing a preponderance of negative reviews to rule out some worthy contenders. And in the end, they probably steer you to the place with the most bacon:
Seth's Blog: The bacon/Yelp correlation
I can see this happening. And sometimes, business owners don't realize how Yelps works and have been penalized.

I get frustrated with Yelp because they hide honest real reviews, especially if they think you just came on there to leave one review.
I'm not very happy with Yelp right now. I know, get in line.

(Linda, I couldn't find a more appropriate thread for this, so feel free to bump.)

This Yelp "review" is one page 1 for a client brand query:
yelp negative review.JPG

Problem is, if you click on the result (so far for me), you can't actually see the review. Not showing on the listing. Right now there's only 1 positive review. There's also no info in the client dashboard. Client says they can't figure out which of their clients this might be, so we're not even sure the phantom review is legit (back to the original point of this thread).

Contacting Yelp seems to be impossible, unless you want to buy advertising. I couldn't even get to a contact form for business owners from their account.

Tweeted this, but haven't gotten any sort of response: Also tried reaching out to the local Yelp (@yelpindy) person. Nothing.

Any ideas?

yelp negative review.JPG
@billbean, not sure how helpful this is, but you can see the whole review by searching the text of it and viewing Google's cached pages:


The review was posted by one "Joe B." who may have since deleted it, since his profile shows no authored reviews: Joe B.'s Reviews | Cortland | Yelp

My guess is that there is some sticky cache issue here, perhaps with Google, as Yelp appears to no longer be showing the offending review anywhere.

Last edited:

Didn't occur to me to search on the text. I should have thought about that. Too wound up to think straight. Thank you for doing that.

It is an unfortunate example, ironically enough, of "guilty until proven innocent." Unfortunately, there's no way to prove. I'm hoping Google's cache catches up quickly.


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