Yelp Gets Serious about Reviews

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Reviews are no joke over at Yelp headquarters.

The local discovery platform averages 108 million monthly unique visitors who visit the service to discover businesses and make spending choices. Most of these visitors also take a gander at the consumer reviews left on business pages. After all, user-generated content has proven to be a big influencer in consumers’ purchasing decisions. For this reason, Yelp is expanding its review functionality to mobile devices and heating up its battle against fraudulent reviews.

Yelp Vs. Fraudsters

Both positive and negative reviews can severely impact a business’s bottom line, which makes it no surprise that some businesses have taken measures to ensure their reviews are A+ material. These measures include paying and incentivizing people to write fake reviews, or trying to game the system by submitting a large number of positive reviews from the same IP address. Yelp frowns upon these tactics because the company wants consumers to be able to trust the authenticity of reviews on its platform.

In response to fraudsters, Yelp has taken measures to monitor the quality of user-generated content posted on its site, including leveraging the services of an automatic review algorithm, a user-support team, a flag system, and most recently, the Consumer Alerts program. The program, which was launched in Oct. 2012, alerts consumers of fraudulent reviews by putting a warning on the pages of suspected businesses for 90 days, along with hyperlinked evidence. While the first round of Consumer Alert messages were posted back in Oct., Yelp is back at it again.

“There will always be fraudsters out there who try to game the system, but we’re doing our best to not let that ruin the value so many millions of people get from Yelp – the trust that allows 4 out of 5 Yelp users to feel confident when consulting our site before spending money at a local business,” the Official Yelp Blog states. “In the end, it’s up to consumers to choose a business that fits their needs, but the Consumer Alerts program is our attempt to inform them of suspicious behavior we have clearly identified.”

Reviews Expand to Yelp’s Mobile App

In addition to stepping up its fight against fraudulent reviews, Yelp has also expanded its review functionality to mobile devices. This is welcome news since Yelp and mobile go hand and hand. In fact, the Yelp app is used by nearly 10.4 million consumers on average each month. That said, it has lacked the functionality that enables users to leave reviews – until now. Not only do consumers now have the ability to write reviews from their mobile devices, but they also have the ability to add images that appear in-line with their reviews. This new functionality is already available for iOS users and will be coming to Android soon.

Before the ability to leave reviews, however, Yelp allowed mobile users to leave ‘Tips’ upon checking into a business. The company notes that this feature will not change, but consumers should be aware that some reviews may be posted as Tips if they are too short. The Official Yelp Blog states:

“Tips are still here to stay and are great for bite-sized content (i.e. ‘great jukebox!’). Mobile reviews are a better option for people looking to go into detail about the factors that contribute to a business’ star rating. To help make sure that these reviews are high-quality and useful, we may post any reviews that are too short as a Tip as we experiment with rolling out this feature. Yelpers can always go back and add in more detail later to flesh it out into a full-fledged review.”

This new functionality could be helpful to businesses because it may influence more consumers to write reviews, as they won't have to wait to do so until they get home. Additionally, some businesses might even consider reminding their customers about this new feature. Just remember to leave incentives out of those reminders, otherwise risk a Consumer Alert being posted on your page!

                               

 
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2 comments

LaurieM 08-15-2013 4:11 PM

I read this twice and I still don't understand what the headline means that Yelp Gets Serious about Reviews by keeping 'tips'. Our store is the oldest family owned business in San Diego -  over 108 years old have an A+ rating with the BBB and we're highly respected in our community. We have 31 reviews and about 1/3 of those are frauds and there is a pattern to all of them. Most of them haven't even been in the store. We have 44 filtered reviews that are actual customers, but our clientele isn't the typical Yelper, they tend to be a little bit older and more affluent and don't Yelp a lot. I would love to read a story about this side of Yelp, I know this is not just limited us and many others are frustrated with this too and have even tried to sue Yelp. We suspect that if we were to buy advertising from them this might improve. Of course, they say this doesn't influence the 'algorithm". This is a real problem for honest retailers. I would like to know how a company get's out of Yelp's algorithm hell.

SkipA 08-16-2013 10:06 AM

LaurieM, I agree with your comment that this blog title seems misleading.  Maybe Yelp is getting serious about reviews but their "secret sauce" algorithm does not appear to have much integrity for what gets "filtered" or not.

I've had several clients get honest reviews about their products or services only to have them disappear from Yelp reviews without any explanation for either the business or the reviewers. I think Yelp is serious for their marketing and sales but not for their support for reviews or reviewers.

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