Yelp Gets Serious about Reviews

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 15 Aug, 2013

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!