Yelp is an online resource for local business referrals such as beauty salons, restaurants, and retailers founded in 2004. By the end of 2005, it was seeing an average of 86 million unique visitors every month. Most users visit the website using mobile devices, which suggests they rely on Yelp reviews while on the go and for instant information.
Though Yelp has received criticism in the past for questionable reviews, their current review filters are intended to weed through submissions to provide highly credible information for visitors. As with search engines, Yelp’s criteria for determining when to filter out suspect or unhelpful reviews is constantly changing and can be as mysterious as it is frustrating. It may surprise you that this is likely intentional. The reason for this is that Yelp needs to stay ahead of spammers and other illegitimate reviewers in order to maintain a high level of quality information.
Are You Real Enough?
A lack of social media presence seems to raise a red flag for Yelp, and may prevent your review from being approved. If your username is not linked to a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account they may suspect you are actually associated with the business you’re reviewing. If you have one or more social media accounts, and likely you do, be sure to connect them to your Yelp username.
Real reviewers are generally not always satisfied with every business they come in contact with. Company shills will likely have only positive things to say and will focus on that company exclusively. So mix it up, and include the good with the bad while reviewing businesses and services you like, as well as those you suggest others avoid.
Yelp is all about local businesses being reviewed by real locals who have visited the companies in person. While it’s true you may have visited an establishment while on vacation, then reviewed it after you got home, most of the time that won’t be the case. Yelp filters take into consideration the IP address of the device you use when posting a review. If you are consistently located outside the area this may raise a flag. As more and more devices take advantage of cloaking technology to disguise their actual location, it will be interesting to see how Yelp circumvents the spammers.
Because fake Yelp reviewers will often create numerous dummy accounts, if more than one review of a business appears to be from the same computer address, that will almost certainly earn you an immediate ban from the site.
Leave Them Laughing
From a readability standpoint, Yelp understands that to keep a reader’s interest, a review should be enlightening as well as entertaining when possible. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Keep in mind, however, that what is funny to one person may be offensive to another. Keep it light and avoid references to touchy subjects involving politics or religion. Every review you write that earns high marks, or an appreciation for your writing style or wit, is a win for Yelp and a win for you.
The true value of a Yelp review is when it positively or negatively impacts a business’ star rating in the community. That’s largely impossible if you aren’t connected to a network of friends on Yelp. Power is in numbers, so over time work to expand that network. The more Yelp friends you make, the more Yelp will consider your reviews to be of value to them.
Establish your Yelp account with long term use in mind. By doing so, your legitimacy and value to Yelp as a reviewer will likely mean that their filter criteria will not negatively affect you. Their goal, after all, is to expand the online community of reviewers so that Yelp users will depend on them for their consumer choices. As that community grows, so too will their ad revenue.