Do you have reservations about using Yelp to gain online reviews?
With nearly 200 million reviews and over 175 million visitors each month, Yelp is far too important to ignore when it comes to reputation management. Yet, the app continues to be a source of frustration and anxiety for many business owners and for dentists, in particular.
For years, Yelp has been accused of extortion as thousands of business owners have claimed the company filtered out their positive reviews when they declined to pay for advertising. Although Yelp has denied these claims, accusations and frustrated business owners are still rampant.
The Truth about Yelp and Reviews
It’s natural to become upset when a positive review from a real patient suddenly disappears into the “not-recommended” part of Yelp. It’s even more upsetting when a handful of reviews are wiped out during a software update. What’s even more suspicious is when it coincidentally happens after we refuse to buy ads or even ignore the phone when the Yelp representative calls.
The truth is that many practice owners become frustrated because they do not understand how Yelp’s recommendation software works. This recommendation software is designed to showcase the most reliable reviews and move less trusted reviews into a “not currently recommended” section of Yelp. The reviews in this section are not gone but are hidden, and do not affect the overall business rating. It’s also important to understand that Yelp’s recommendation software algorithm is automated. It affects both positive and negative reviews and treats advertisers and non-advertisers the same.
Why You Can and Should Trust Yelp
The way the algorithm works is it looks at many different signs to evaluate whether a review is “reliable” or trustworthy, which includes review quality, user reliability, and user activity on Yelp.
Some reviews get filtered out of Yelp, while nearly 75% of all positive and negative reviews are deemed reliable. These are detailed reviews shared by Yelp users who have a completed profile, have multiple friends on Yelp, and are active users whether they post reviews frequently or not. Reviews from Yelpers who contribute frequently are particularly sticky – they tend to pass the recommendation software as Yelp is promoting reviews from users who share their rich and detailed experiences regularly. But even reviews from those who don’t post often can be sticky if the reviewer uses Yelp frequently by logging into an app, booking appointments, liking or complementing other reviews, or checking into a business on Yelp.
So, while it can be extremely frustrating to see genuine, positive reviews from real patients disappear, keep in mind that the recommendation software is fluid. There are many reasons why a review may end up in a “Currently Not Recommended” section of Yelp. These might be reviews from new users, users with incomplete profiles and a few friends, or those who haven’t engaged on Yelp regularly. Any of these things can easily change. Once a user becomes more engaged and active on Yelp, their reviews can move into the Recommended section.
Despite the frustrations, Yelp offers many ways for dentists to interact with patients and potential patients. A successful strategy on Yelp does not require spending any money and is an opportunity to positively represent your practice online, get found, and get more patients through your doors.