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Yelp Is Hiding My Reviews. What Can I Do?

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Uggh. I hate it when I get these emails from my clients:

why is Yelp hiding my reviews?

As evidenced by all their other 5-star reviews, my clients do great work, so great their clients or customers are motivated to take the time to go to Yelp and leave a review. These are real, honest, appreciative reviews. They’re not fakes. No one has been paid to leave those review.

And yet, Yelp hides them.

It’s just not fair! And if you’ve gotten them too, you’re not just scratching your head, you’re fuming.

So now what? How do you get Yelp to let them out of review hell?

Why Does Yelp Filter Good Reviews?

First thing my clients want to know is why?

Well, let’s get this out of the way first.

No, they are not trying to extort ad dollars out of you, meaning, ads are not a get out of jail card. So don’t think you have to go pay them $1,000 a month to get those reviews to show.

So then why do they do it?

Yelp will tell you it’s because they only want to show the most helpful and honest reviews. And because they don’t have the budget to have a human being critique each and every review that comes in, they use a computer algorithm to do the dirty work.

Unfortunately, and clearly, sometimes it’s wrong. Actually, it’s wrong a lot of the time.

But you can’t argue with their algorithms – or them for that matter. You just have to work with it.

So now what can you do to make Yelp believe those are helpful and honest reviews. Answer: Make the reviewer look helpful and honest. And there are few things both you and your clients/customers can do.

What You Can Do to Get Yelp to Reconsider Your Reviews

First, let’s talk about what you can do.

First step is make sure you’re moderating your reviews regularly, and to do that make sure you have notifications turned on in your Yelp Account Settings. Log into your business account. Click on Account Settings, then Language and Notifications and make sure the appropriate settings are there. Just like this:

Then, of course, you have to pay attention to those email notifications when they come, and respond as soon as possible.

I can’t make you pay attention, that’s on you, but here’s how to respond.

Get Friendly With the Reviewer

Don’t do this to negative filtered reviews because keeping those in jail is the best place for them, even though that customer or client may be completely off base and you’d like to correct the matter, but when you find a positive one, log in and then go to that review and interact with the review and reviewer. Here’s how:

  • First, leave a nice reply to that review.
  • Click on their profile and friend them.
  • Click on their other reviews and interact with them:
    • Tag them as Useful, Funny or Cool. This is to tell Yelp this person is a useful member of their community.
    • Respond to each of their reviews to show Yelp again that you are appreciating their reviews.
    • If you have staff members, have them do the same.

At this point Yelp should be beginning to think that reviewer can provide value to their platform, but just in case they don’t, you might be able to enlist the aid of that reviewer (your customer) directly. If they super, duper love you, they’d probably want to help, so don’t be shy.

Enlist the Aid of Your Client

This only works if you recognize that Yelp reviewer by the name, face or story they left with your review. For those, send them an email, thank them, and just come out and ask for help.

Here’s a sample email you can use:

Dear [client],

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review at Yelp so that others will have a reason to trust us with [whatever your service is]. Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t want anyone to see that review, (and possibly others you’ve written for other businesses as well), so it has hidden them. You can see that if you go to our Yelp page now and look just below the reviews where there is a link to: “16 other reviews that are not currently recommended.”

Doesn’t seem fair does it? So why does Yelp do this? Could be they think:

  1. You were paid by us to say nice things; or,
  2. They don’t know you or like you enough to give any credibility to what you have to say. 

We know it’s not 1, so let’s go with 2. 

Now’s your chance to tell Yelp you’re better than that and get yourself out of Yelp hell. This can be tough because they aren’t the trusting kind, but here’s what we advise you do if you want Yelp to trust all your reviews. 

  1. Leave a few more reviews for a variety of types of businesses;
  2. Spread those out over the next month. (If you do it all at once, you might trigger another scammer flag!)
  3. When you can and if applicable, add a photo to go with your review;
  4. This is less important, but add a photo to your profile.  

And if that doesn’t work, or even if it does, you can still let others know about the good service we provide by leaving your review on our Google My Business (GMB) page right here: [there is a link to your GMB review form on the your GMB page.]

Whatever happens, it’s still really wonderful knowing we were able to make a difference in your life and that you took the time to let us and others know. That means a lot to us! Thank you!

Finally, What Can You Do to Keep Filtered Reviews to a Minimum?

The best thing you can do is don’t do anything that makes your reviews look unnatural. From Yelp’s own website:

  • Don’t ask anyone to review your business, be it customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, etc. That includes using any of the many available review solicitation tools. Yelp is onto those. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve figured out a way to know where the review is coming from. The good solicitation tools provide a way to remove the Yelp solicitation.

    However, nothing keeps you from adding a footnote on those solicitations that state: “Per Yelp’s guidelines, we can’t ask you to leave a review there. But it is perfectly fine to share a photo that represents your experience with us. You can do that here.” Uploading an image, then, triggers a review request from Yelp. Let them do the asking. ? 

  • Don’t let Yelp catch you having your staff compete to collect reviews.
  • Don’t offer freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews. Not only is this against Yelp’s policies, it will make you look less credible in the eyes of your customers. They won’t trust any of your reviews! A little known fact, it may also be illegal.

    Can you offer “freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange” for the photo as mentioned above? Well, I couldn’t find anything in Yelp’s guidelines that says you can’t.  And honestly, I can’t see why they’d care. Just be prepared to get some bad photos like this one comparing what they were served with what was in the menu. ?

Yucch! Yeah. Watch out for that.

Hopefully all that helps, but if not, I know having those great reviews hidden is really annoying, so please don’t let this get you down. Just keep focusing on providing such outstanding service that your customers are motivated to leave you more great reviews. That’s what Yelp wants.

Eventually those that are hidden will either be meaningless to you because you have so many more that Yelp does approve of, or your original hidden review may gain more credibility with Yelp over time and pop out on their own.


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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