Yelp Review Filter Explained (How do I spam that?)
March 18th, 2010 by
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.
Amazingly, none of these reviewers were filtered (Amilia’s Diner on Yelp).
A problem I’m seeing is that IP address is taken into consideration of credibility. My wife and I had an experience we both wanted to share. We were both in favor of the business, but had different reasons for it.
Because we both posted within a similar time frame from the same IP address, only one of our recommendations shows.
That doesn’t seem accurate. But I do understand the need to filter.
[…] Yelp Review Filter Explained (How do I spam that?) […]
Great article. Yelp’s filtering process is what makes Yelp unique from Citysearch. However, unless all reviews are approved manually, there will always be a way for trained SEO / marketing types to manipulate the system. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
It is terrible for Yelp to filter reviews. My honest review got filtered and I am upset. Yelp is not specific on how the filter works. Someone who knows the system can easily get your reviews filtered for a fee. I know of a business where someone offered to take the bad reviews down for a fee. It appears that people who know how the filters wok could profit from this.
My reviews only show up under My Account. It’s especially interesting to notice that my (unfortunately) negative reviews, while specific in details, are markedly missing. Why is that?
@Ash: Honestly, in that case I would prefer you write ONE review with both your preferences in it unless you have a differing star rating opinion. Otherwise, you’re double-counting your visit to the place. It’s still just one meal, chief. I know for my wife and I, we just share an account an give our opinions in two blocks of text- with a consensus star rating.
Gets a little wordy at times, but I think it’s better than one meal double counting. Otherwise, you might double count the day that the chef was sick or the day when they had double the amount of wait staff due to a scheduling mistake. I’d rather have a series of totally independent star ratings, thanks.
Yelps review filter is terrible. They filter legitimate reviews.
It looks like your reviews are legitimately filtered.
Neither Tim M. nor Sarah M. quite pass the sniff test.
Instead of trying to game the system I would recommend making a customer service check-up part of your service. If they’re not feeling 5 stars when you’re ready to leave, fix that problem and when they feel like you’ve done all you can to satisfy then ask for a review.
Keep in mind, Yelp has some of the most stringent guidelines and they do their best to assure real reviews. That said, it’s their party.
One bit of good news is that your business is misidentified as being in San Francisco. It’s a good way to argue for pulling the reviews. Claim your listing, change your address and then put in a request to have the original review pulled.
Yes, Yelp’s filter sucks and so does their management for implementing it.
A way to get around them is to actually post your reviews on Google (Google business name and then click on “Place page”)
It’s a matter of time before Yelp will become obsolete and a better site is available to post legitimate reviews without some idiotic system filtering them out.
I’ve seen repeated bad reviews for my company (that are obvious spam) left up on yelp even after explaining to them that the review was not factual (the reviewer talks about a bad experience 5 years ago, 3 years before my company was even here), and seen every good review by new reviewers pulled. I’ve gotten 3 calls to date from Yelp asking me to advertise…..Strange…
Yelp’s over zealous filter has created a MONOPOLY for companies that were already there before the implementation of their filters. Many of those companies are vastly enjoy those benefits and profits everyday.
Point blank, if your are a NEW business…… you stand very very little opportunity of gaining any traction or benefit from a Yelp listing. Primarily because it’ll be almost impossible for your to obtain any reviews.
For the most part because most Yelpers are a loyal crowd…. almost cult like. So if your business listing on Yelp doesn’t have any reviews….. you’re pretty much NOT going to get any “their” business.
And ofcourse, since it’s only die-hard seasoned Yelpers reviews which are NOT getting filtered…..it does your business listing NO good for any of your clients sign up for a yelp account and post a review for you… because it WILL get filtered.
Yelp meanwhile realizes this…… and is making a TON of money off of unsuspecting businesses wanting to get in on the band wagon…… Yelp AGGRESSIVELY sells them their “pay up front” advertising packages to anyone and everyone they can…. to a tune of MILLIONS of dollars per month.
The reality is that most all of these “new” advertisers get taken for every penny with NO new business to show for their investment….. remember they have NO reviews on their listings….and most likely won’t ever be able to get any from those seasoned yelpers whos reviews don’t get filtered.
If you’re a new business……. don’t even waste your time with Yelp…… and certainly do NOT give them any of your hard earned money.
I’m surprised when I couldn’t access yelp to search for a sushi place to eat. What yelp is doing is indeed very UN-Americanized! We have the freedom of speech unlike most 3rd world countries. If that place is bad then let it be known! I hate yelp now. Will never support it!
The initial reaction of individuals who’ve learned their reviews were filtered is to never attempt to post a review again on Yelp out of fear of discovering they have again wasted their valuable time. As a research PhD with a statistics background, I can tell you this will introduce a bias of its own into the review library. Yelp will ultimately acquire the reputation of the place you DON’T want to go because the review library will be severely truncated and not contain anything original.
I’m a writer. So when I am moved to compose anything, I put a lot of thought into it. I could also be long-winded and take 500 words to convey a sentiment others sum up more tersely in 50 — but I love ideas and I love words. I also pride myself on making the effort to offer viewers something they have not read before — a fresh and original angle to stimulate thinking. So when my 500 word review ended up in Yelp’s filter, I was deeply disturbed. Algorithms make mistakes all the time; in fact, mistakes are an inherent by-product of algorithms. They are actuarial in nature, which is to say they take a probabalistic approach to filtering out reviews based on the appearance of a word you would expect to find in an undesirable review (i.e., malicious / shill) but which any Yelp executive knows also appears in reviews that are not written by malicious defamers or shills. Yelp knows good reviews are caught in its wide net so what is deeply disturbing is that it does not seem to care about your time, effort, and opinion nor does it care the quality of its collection is being compromised. It just plays a numbers game and figures it will all wash out over a number of reviews. With so many reviews, you can rest assured some will be good — some bad — and who cares whether the star count is accurate as long as Yelp managed to trick the community into thinking it is credible and scientific.
What this means is that you and I as individual reviewers are just livestock to Yelp. It is not about building a good library of reviews nor is it about the individual reviewer nor about the product / service under review. It’s all just to prop up Yelp. I know this as a statistician who has worked in business. Believe me — Yelp knows what it’s doing. No one in their executive offices could be so stupid as to have never learned the lessons we have all learned over the years about trusting everything to technology or to a set of rules. These lessons are embodied in decades of film-making and centuries of literature — not to mention real world history. And yet Yelp is greedily — again, not stupidly — turning out a technological device that blindly and indiscriminantly applies a set of rules to your thoughts and feelings and rejects them without regard to their intrinsic worth.
Yelp aspires to become the Google of Reviews by wrapping itself in the symbols of technology and professionalism. Ironically it is creating the most untrustworthy of review sites.
Let’s tell Yelp to unfilter our reviews. Join a petition with 10,000 other Yelpers and small business owners, so that we can tell yelp to “unfilter our reviews.”
Yelp is filtering our reviews and then asking us to sign up for their premium plan $400 per month. If you would like to tell yelp to “stop filtering reviews!” Please sign our petition
I am a new small business in the UK, through hard work and unwavering client service I’ve managed to get 4 legitimate reviews (all 5 stars ) the 3 months I have been in business.
Firsy I got one 5star review. That stayed up for a few weeks, until I got my second review. Now the first review got filtered. Then I got two more reviews and all those got filtered….now I look on my page and see all 4 have gone!
This is frustrating and infuriating because it feels so unfair, like my accomplishment has been callously wiped out. As soon as my business was placed on yelp I was contacted to advertise, I selected a starter £100/mo plan. I am pulling my ad campaign now as I no longer believe in the usefulness and promise of the model.
Of course all of my clients are new yelpers as in the UK no one has ever heard of yelp, nor will they ever due to this bias toward experienced yelpers who are ( surprise!) American tourists or expats (like me ). A search for childrens photographer in London ( which is what I am ) results in the top listings being galleries and chains passport photo shops w the number one being reviewed by an american saying he loves to go there when traveling to london. While my infinitely more relevant business w legitimate local reviews I way down the list.
I am now telling clients I am on google+ ans forgetting Yelp.
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