We have just issued a new round of Consumer Alerts that let people know when we’ve caught a business trying to artificially inflate Yelp reviews. The reason so many people use Yelp is because of the lengths we go to showcase the most helpful and reliable consumer reviews among the millions that we receive. Our recommendation software routinely sifts through mountains of data to highlight the reviews that best reflect the opinions of the Yelp community. We also employ an investigative team to identify and expose people who are actively trying to mislead consumers.
For example, some businesses try to bias reviews in their favor by incentivizing people to write positive reviews. Our team caught this appliance repair company offering to pay reviewers $15 per review via an ad on Craigslist.
This team also looks for businesses that have received a disproportionate number of spammy reviews, like those that originate from the same IP address. We found more than 245 dubious reviews for Las Vegas-based AAA Anytime Inc and 52 for Philadelphia’s Pets and the City.
So, what’s going on? Unfortunately some businesses are trying to sneak through fake reviews in an effort to boost their reputations on Yelp and other review sites. Others may be encouraging their customers to write reviews from the store, which may not sound all that bad until you ask yourself just how objective you’d be if you were at the dentist’s office and she dropped an iPad on your lap and asked you to write her a quick Yelp review. Solicited reviews are often biased and don’t result in the most accurate overall portrayal of that business. You can also be assured that businesses are almost never asking their unhappy customers for reviews.
We have zero tolerance for those who are trying to manipulate their online reputations in an effort to get ahead of hard-working business owners who are playing by the rules. We encourage businesses to take a hands off approach when it comes to receiving reviews and take advantage of the free suite of tools Yelp provides business owners who are interested in joining the converstaions that are happening about them online.