One of our customers has been encouraging his customers to write reviews. We had the idea to link his local review sites from his home page and it worked well. He has 11 great reviews on Yelp, 13 on Google Places, and a bunch on the other search sites. Although many of his reviews are from friends and family, these are all legitimate customers. I was very shocked to see that all of his Yelp reviews became filtered the other day.
Most reviews are filtered because the user account is not active enough. If you sign up for an account and post a review, and never return to post reviews on other businesses then you review will likely be filtered. We don’t think that is the issue here, as many of the users who have filtered reviews on Tommy’s page, have non-filtered reviews on other pages. This seemingly happened over night, which had us looking through Yelp’s terms and conditions for a reason why.
1. You were caught asking for reviews which was against Yelp’s policy.
Read this snippet from the Yelp faq page.
Should I ask customers to write reviews for my business?
Probably not. It’s a slippery slope between the customer who is so delighted by her experience that she takes it upon herself to write a glowing review and the customer who is “encouraged” to write a favorable review in exchange for a special discount. And let’s be candid: most business owners are only going to solicit reviews from their happy customers, not the unhappy ones. Over time, these self-selected reviews create intrinsic bias in the business listing — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. Don’t be surprised, then, if your solicited reviews get filtered by Yelp’s automated review filter.
As you can see from the image above, we are asking customers to write reviews, although we could modify it just to ask customers to read them. I can only imagine that Yelp would be thrilled to see their business profile linked from the home page. Another possibility is that a competitor marked all of the reviews as abusive. I would think that Yelp would be smart enough to prevent that from happening.
2. The incoming traffic to your Yelp page is coming from one website
Yelp may track the referral source of your reviewers. So if they noticed that all of your reviewers landed on your Yelp page by clicking a link on your website, or Facebook, or other page that sends up a red flag. An Yelp page where reviews were generated naturally would probably have most people find the page by searching for the Business on Yelp.
3. You are too perfect. All 5 star reviews
There could just be too much perfect feedback. It seems fishy when 100% of your feedback has 5 stars. You could encourage people to post a couple of 3 and 4 star reviews so that your rating seems more natural.
4. A link to your Yelp page link was “nofollow”.
Don’t “nofollow” your links to Yelp. Any link back to Yelp or Yelp mobile should be follow-able.
We have contacted Yelp about this issue but their customer support continually responded with default “this is why we filter reviews” responses. They would not tell us anything else.