How the Yelp Review Filter Works

July 24, 2017

REasons why reviews on Yelp get hidden

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What’s This?

It’s incredibly frustrating when you go on Yelp and see that a positive review has been hidden by their filter. It’s become a fact of business that not all positive reviews are going to stay visible on your Yelp review page. You reply to Yelp reviews, you have updated your listing, and you’re left wondering why all those great reviews by real customers don’t come up on your listing. You want to know how the Yelp review filter works. If you want to know how Yelp determines if a review gets to stay visible on your business page, read on.   Although Yelp has not revealed their Review Filter algorithm, here are a few reasons reviews may be filtered.

How the Yelp Review Filter Works

There are many things that go into the Yelp Review Filter Algorithm



There are many reasons why a review will be hidden by the Yelp review filter. Mind you, that the algorithm usually puts a few or many of these into action when filtering a review, we’ll explore that a bit later. For now, let’s discuss the individual reasons the Yelp review filter may come into place:

Location: The review is written from a location that is different from the location of the small business. For example, a review for a restaurant in New York city is posted from an IP address in India.  Yelp is a smart company, they know when businesses purchase reviews and have worked filters into their algorithm to keep reviews honest. However, this may sometimes (rarely) affect a true review from a customer who travels.

Overly Positive: If the review is overly positive, it may set off some flags on the Yelp filter.

New Account: If the review is from a reviewer who has never before yelped about anything, Yelp is likely to hide their review. This means that legitimate reviews get filtered because of a yelper with low activity. These reviews may be unhidden as the user becomes more active on the platform. The issue here is that your customers will also get frustrated when Yelp hides their review and may never come back to write that second and third review making your review null and void.




Questionable Reviewer: A review may be hidden if it is written by someone without a profile, profile picture, or friends. These are all flags that the reviewer is not a real person.




Yelp Thinks You Cheated: If the review came from your IP address (maybe a user logged onto your wifi) it may get filtered.

BUT: Yelp hardly ever looks at these individually. Yelp’s blog states that three key things go into a review that sticks: quality, reliability, and user activity. Say for example that a Yelp user reviewed your restaurant from your IP address. Yelp will consider the user’s review history, their geo-location and much more before hiding this review. The lesson here is that the Yelp review is complicated and not triggered by one thing, but by many sophisticated things.

Why Reviews Are NOT Filtered by Yelp

Fully Filled Out Profile: A user with an image and a full profile is more likely to be a real person on Yelp as opposed to one of those disreputable companies where you can buy Yelp Reviews.

The Reviewer has Friends: A reviewer who has friends is probably a real person. This goes along with the item above.

Connected Social Networks: A user who has connected other social networks like Twitter or Facebook has more authenticity than one who has not.

The Review was Left on Mobile: Yelp favors reviews on mobile. These are more likely to be left right after someone has just been in the business. Checking in also increases the chances that the Yelp review will not be filtered.

The Reviewer is Active: If the reviewer is an active Yelper their review has an almost 100% chance of sticking.

The Review is Good: Good as in well written, not necessarily positive. A well-written review with no typos that has nice length is more likely not to be filtered by Yelp.

The Reviewer Added Photos: Again, this is proof that the reviewer was at the location and that the review is real.

What You Can do About Yelp Reviews

Monitor Reviews

Keep track of your reviews. If you see a review that comes in from a customer who has no friends, message him or her. Suggest that she add an image to her profile and add a few more reviews for other businesses. This may help Yelp figure out that she is a real person leaving a real review.

A simple suggestion for the note: Hi (person’s name), thanks so much for coming to our business and sharing your experience with the Yelp community. We are thrilled and incredibly grateful. Looks like Yelp has filtered your review. This happens with new Yelpers who have no profile picture, only a few reviews, and no friends on the site. In order to make the review count, maybe add a picture to your profile and add me as a friend.”

Respond to reviews

Yelp thrives on content. Ever wonder why they rule Google search? Every review is a piece of original content for Google to index. Be they positive or negative, filtered, or unfiltered, respond to reviews. This is what a professional, energetic business owner does. Let your customers know that you care about them and your business.  We’ve got an article on how to respond to Yelp reviews, but in the meantime, here are some templates to get you started. Edit these so that they are personalized. The whole idea is to keep happy customers happy and to convert unhappy ones with your great follow-up.

Positive Review: Hi (Person’s name), thank you for stopping by our place and for sharing your experience on Yelp. It really made my day and I will share this with my team. I am certain they will be really excited. Hope to have you back soon – Your Name

Negative Review: Hi (Person’s name), Thank you for giving our business a try and for bringing this issue to my attention. We strive to make all our clients happy and I will discuss this issue with my staff so that we can prevent it in the future. I would like to encourage you to stop by so that I can give you the experience and service you deserve. Please ask for me on your next visit – Your Name

Sensitive Review: If the review deals with anything that could have legal ramifications (be this allegations of race, sexism, etc), it is best to take the response private. You don’t want to get into a screaming match with a customer. In some cases, you may want to seek legal councel.

Vote Up Positive Reviews

Vote for it as funny or useful or useful and funny, this could save it from the filter.

Flag Obviously Fake Reviews

Sometimes you will get a fake or malicious review from a customer, disgruntled employee, or a competitor. In some cases, Yelp will allow businesses to flag reviews for removal if they have violated their Terms Of Service such as:

***Violate Yelp’s Content Guidelines, for example, by writing a fake or defamatory review, trading reviews with other businesses, or compensating someone or being compensated to write or remove a review;

***Violate any third party’s rights, including any breach of confidence, copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, moral right, privacy right, right of publicity, or any other intellectual property or proprietary right;

***Threaten, stalk, harm, or harass others, or promote bigotry or discrimination;

***Promote a business or other commercial venture or event, or otherwise use the Site for commercial purposes, except in connection with a Business Account and as expressly permitted by Yelp;

***Send bulk emails, surveys, or other mass messaging, whether commercial in nature or not; engage in keyword spamming, or otherwise attempt to manipulate the Site’s search results or any third party website;

***Solicit personal information from minors, or submit or transmit pornography; or

***Violate any applicable law.

Now that you have a better idea as to how the Yelp review filter works, it’s time to get back to work. And a big reminder here; every social network such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram competes with Yelp, so keeping those social media pages updated gives your current and potential customers another place to find information about you. This is one of the most important reasons for you to keep your social media pages active by scheduling on a dashboard like Socialdraft. It allows you to maintain a bit more control over your brand and rely a little less on Yelp and their customer reviews.

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