Yelp Review Filter Explained (How do I spam that?)

March 18th, 2010 by Will Scott

I was looking for more contact info for Luther Lowe and noticed his tweet about a blog post explaining Yelp’s Review Filter. Luther does a good job of explaining the Yelp Review Filter and Yelp has commissioned a video which tries to explain it in a friendly way. The review filter, Yelp’s legal woes and the general state of Yelpdom have been the topics of many conversations lately.

While in Portland last week presenting on Facebook Marketing at SEMpdx SearchFest I had a couple great dinners with some really smart people. One of those dinners included the aforementioned smart person Luther Lowe who is part of Yelp’s business outreach team.

Luther gave a good explanation in person of the review filter and I think he’s done a good job in the blog post as well. I have to admit, after my personal experience with Luther and his colleagues I’m a lot more positive toward the organization as a whole (I may be influenced by Mat Siltala too).

From what I could discern, that the most critical component of the review filter is one which looks at a users yelpish tendancies to see how active a yelper they are. In other words, if you just created your account, or have a very thin profile you might get filtered.

I can see it. I understand it, but I think the position Yelp takes regarding small businesses requesting reviews is unreasonable. And, their system presumes guilt which is downright un-American.

I’m assured by some of Luther’s colleagues with whom I spoke at SMX West that there are semantic elements too. But, it looks like the biggest factor is how “real” you look by virtue of your history on Yelp.

But, as we learned at SMX, Yelp has 180 in Sales & Marketing as compared to 40 Engineers.

So, I know what you’re asking: “Given all this, how do I spam Yelp”?

It’s easy, be patient and build a quality profile. In other words, if you look real you have a higher likelihood of having your spammy review not filtered. (hint: real doesn’t mean 10 reviews of disparate places within 24 hours)

I’m reminded of the quote with which I start most SEO presentations:

The most important thing in business is sincerity.
If you can FAKE that, you’ve got it made 🙂

Seriously though, I appreciate the attempts at outreach. It’s clear that Yelp is cognizant of the PR issues (and their legal issues) and that they’re working to provide a valuable service. I hope they can get their act together on the sales front before they go up in flames.

Amilia's Diner - SEO Invasion

Amilia's Diner - SEO Invasion

Amazingly, none of these reviewers were filtered (Amilia’s Diner on Yelp).

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