Every month, we get calls at Baseline Creative asking for assistance with Yelp reviews and accounts. And every time, we share in the frustration with our clients at the business practices we see Yelp using. Oftentimes, it seems that Yelp is holding the businesses on their platform hostage. More advertising on the platform seems to be the cure for most of those ails, but it doesn’t seem, well, ethical.
Reviews and Reputation Management
The importance of online reviews and reputation management is no longer debatable.
- 95% of consumers report reading online reviews. (Northwestern University)
- 84% of those who read reviews trust an online recommendation as much as a personal recommendation. (Inc.com)
- Given the choice between two products/businesses with similar ratings, consumers will buy the product with more reviews (Psychological Science)
Online reviews need to be pursued and managed to help the online reputation of the business and to create a better customer experience. However, the way in which reviews are handled must be ethical, and fair for both the business and the reviewer. In addition to digital marketing including SEO and SEM, Baseline Creative has a team of strategists who assist clients with online reputation management using ethical strategies and practices. If you need help with your online reputation, connect with us—we can help. Unfortunately, it seems as though Yelp still has some issues to iron out to redeem their own online reputation after reports of unethical practices.
Harmful Yelp Practices
A Vice report uncovered that Yelp removes the phone numbers of restaurants on their platform and replaces them with the phone number for the delivery service, Grubhub—a long-term partner of Yelp. The customer is charged an extra 15%-20% for delivery and the restaurant is charged a 10% referral fee from Grubhub. Everyone wins, except for the customer and the restaurant owner.
Yelp has come under fire before for less-than-ethical business practices including accusations that Yelp gives preferential search treatment to advertisers. A 2015 documentary called, Billion Dollar Bully, interviewed several business owners who believe they have been harmed by false reviews that Yelp then refuses to remove. Those interviewed include a restaurant owner who turns down Yelp ads during sales calls and suddenly five-star reviews are gone and one-star reviews pop up and a doctor who said a former employee’s completely false review damaged her business. Some of these businesses, according to an article in Kiplinger, claim that Yelp has tried to sell advertising as a way to make negative reviews disappear or uses “strongarm” tactics that threaten to remove positive reviews.
An article in Slate points out that Yelp’s policy of no involvement in review disputes fuels the flames of injustice for business owners who feel they have received false or retaliatory reviews. While this policy suits the company, it leaves small business owners—many of whom have a limited ad budget—reeling from the effects of false negative reviews.
Whether your online reviews need improvement, you need help navigating Yelp, or assistance managing your online reputation, it’s important to take the first steps to control of how your brand is perceived online. Baseline Creative can help—call us today at 316-260-5294 or email us.