Overcoming a Negative Yelp Review (or Twenty)

While two-thirds of Yelp reviews are positive but the algorithm used to populate the site often allows negative postings to dominate a company’s listing.

Of Yelp’s estimated 77 million reviews, positive four and five star reviews made up 66.8%, with one star reviews making up only 12.8%.

This is particularly hard on restaurants and other food-related businesses. Because food judgement is such a personal and non-standard process, the Yelp program is particularly difficult to police and maintain.

However, a 2013 Steam Feedarticle illustrates how Yelp’s filtering system has created an even bigger hurdle. In a worst-case scenario, this system may prevent any positive reviews from appearing, while allowing negative one star reviews to consume the page.

Unfortunately for those who have fallen victim to multiple malicious attackers, Yelp often populates the first few spots on page one of Google, and with over 142 million monthly unique visitors, ignoring negative reviews is not a wise decision.

Darius Fisher, co-founder and president of Status Labs offers these four tips to help any business take the reins of their Yelp page.

1.      Take Ownership: The first ideal step of dominating a Yelp page is getting business owners to act like they own the place  is... because they do ‘own the place’. They need to take ownership, and if they have not done so already, activate and “claim” their Yelp page. This way they will be ready to respond to any and all reviews concerning the business. “Claiming” the page will also allow them to upload a current information specific to the services their business provides. This includes photos, hours of operation, ways of contact, and additional business specific information.

2.      A Picture is Worth 1000 Words:For some customers, looking through photos is an alternative to reading through comments. High-quality photos of the business’ work and facilities  are the first defense to complaints or bad comments . Similarly, photos of smiling personnel are likely diffuse any “poor customer service” complaints, so make a quick and lasting impression through ‘insta-worthy’, quality photos. No matter the business, exceptional photos can do wonders for the brand and client first impressions.

3.      Think Outside of the Yelp box:  A plethora of other authoritative sites exist where business’ can encourage guests to leave reviews. These include Citysearch.com, Yellow Pages, Urbanspoon, Angie’s List and not forgetting Facebook, which boasts 210 million active monthly users in the United States and Canada - 30% more than Yelp. Business’ should use these sources to enhance online reputation and to reach more potential customers/clients.

4.      Keep Social Media Accounts Active + Updated:  Regularly updated Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts with solid followings and positive fan interactions, are likely to outweigh a less than stellar Yelp page. Just like alternative review sites, active and regularly updated social media accounts are likely to occupy those top spots on the front page of Google, as well as influence more potential customers.

If All Else Fails…

Consider hiring a reputable online reputation management firm. One who can effectively push Yelp off page one of Google, rather than one offering to delete negative comments, or sell positive reviews. It is actually impossible to remove reviews, unless they violate Yelp’sterms of service. Getting caught purchasing reviews will result in apublic shamingcourtesy of Yelp.  Pushing Yelp off of page one of Google’s search results will reduce the amount of traffic that lands on those negative reviews, and more importantly, prevents negative comments from reaching forthcoming clients.

Darius Fisher is the co-founder and president of Status Labs, an online reputation management firm helping small startups to fortune 500 companies look their best online.