Are Yelp reviews reliable?
Yelp reviews are becoming increasingly important to consumers. They help us decide everything from where to eat dinner to what hotel to book. And now, many Yelp reviews come directly from customers' friends, family members, and neighbors.
But how do you know whether those Yelp reviews are legitimate? A recent report found that some companies pay reviewers to post positive Yelp reviews. Others offer incentives like free food or gift cards to write glowing Yelp reviews. Still, others use automated software programs to write fake Yelp reviews.
A bad review can ruin the online reputation of entire companies. A 2017 survey found that 38% of respondents had stopped doing business with a brand because of negative Yelp reviews.
The good news is that there are ways to spot fraudulent Yelp reviews. For example, look out for Yelp reviews that don't match up with the product being reviewed. Or check out the customer rating and several Yelp reviews. If it's low, that could mean fewer genuine Yelp reviews.
Are Yelp reviews important for local businesses?
Yelp reviews can have a tremendous influence on businesses. In fact, according to a study conducted by Yelp, every additional star rating increases sales revenue by about $9. But how much does it matter? How many stars do you need to attract attention? And what happens when you reach too high of a number? We analyzed over 3 million restaurant reviews submitted on Yelp across 22 cities to find out. Restaurants receiving 5-stars generate around 10% more revenue per review than those receiving 4-stars. However, once you hit 7-stars, the difference becomes negligible. This suggests that there is no real benefit to having 10+ reviews.
We also found that businesses that received 2-5 stars had a median revenue of $1,500 per month. Businesses with 1-star ratings generated a median monthly revenue of just $100. Based on this data, we estimate that a restaurant with 50 positive reviews generates roughly $3,600 in annual revenue.
People see star ratings first.
Yelp says that most consumers first look at the star ratings when searching for local businesses. This makes sense because stars are easy to understand, and the ratings are often displayed prominently. However, many people neglect to go beyond the star rating to check out the rest of the information.
Most people look at the star rating first. People who use mobile devices tend to skip over the text description and focus on the number next to the icon.
Consumers usually don't read reviews unless they're looking for something specific. When someone searches for a restaurant, they probably want to know what food they'll find there. They won't spend much time checking out the reviews unless they've narrowed down their options.
Yelp offers a PPC program that lets local businesses pay for better ranking on search results. If you do this, you might notice that some of the sites listed above are at the top of the list.
While this practice doesn't kill Yelp's trust, it does mean that the first sites you come across on Yelp search results aren't necessarily the best ones. You can still ensure that your site appears high enough in the listings by monitoring new reviews and responding to them promptly.
Businesses can manage their Yelp reviews.
Yelp is one of the most popular review sites. But while many people use Yelp to find local businesses, others are trying to game the system. Some businesses pay people to write positive reviews about their products and services. Others hire "reviewers" to give glowing reviews – even though those reviewers don't know what they're talking about. And some businesses try to manipulate the site's algorithms to boost their ratings.
But there's good news for honest businesses on Yelp. In 2018, the company began changing its algorithm to help identify and delete fake reviews. Now, Yelp says it's working on ways to combat fakes further.
In addition, Yelp now offers tools to business owners to report suspicious activity. Business owners can log into their accounts and see whether anyone has been attempting to buy up reviews or manipulate their ratings. They can also flag reviews that seem like they might be fake. Yelp keeps track of these reports and uses them to determine how much weight each review carries in calculating a business' overall score.
The company also allows business owners to request that reviews be removed entirely. This helps keep the site clean and ensures that negative reviews aren't unfairly affecting a business's reputation.
Are Yelp Reviews Reliable?
Yelp began as a way for people to write about what they liked and didn't like about local businesses. As the site grew, however, it became clear that there were many ways for unscrupulous businesses to game the system. In fact, according to a study conducted by Consumer Reports, nearly half of Yelp reviewers gave a restaurant positive ratings simply because they wanted a job.
While Yelp remains one of the best resources for finding information about local businesses, it's estimated that around 20% of Yelp reviews aren't legitimate. This makes sense since it's hard to believe someone would spend hours writing a glowing review of a place just because they want a job. However, some businesses use paid reviewers to post positive reviews, while others pay customers to give negative feedback. Businesses can even hire third parties to generate fake reviews.
This isn't to say that all reviews are bogus; they're often written by genuine customers who feel strongly about a particular experience. But it does mean that you shouldn't take everything you read on Yelp as gospel. If you don't know the reviewer, check out their profile to see how long they've been active. And, if you find something fishy, let the author know via email or Twitter.
How many reviews are fake?
In recent months, we've seen numerous stories highlighting how much trouble businesses can run into when relying solely on positive reviews. For example, one restaurant owner had to shut down his entire operation because he couldn't afford to pay the bills while dealing with negative reviews posted on Yelp.
Now, researchers at Stanford University have published a study suggesting that most reviews found on social media and review sites like Yelp are probably faked. In fact, according to the study, up to 80% of reviews found on Facebook are likely bogus.
The study examined over 5 million customer reviews on Amazon and compared those reviews to the corresponding customer ratings. Researchers looked at reviews written about products sold on Amazon.com and used a machine learning algorithm to determine whether each review was authentic. They found that even though Amazon encourages reviewers to write honest reviews, most reviews weren't written by actual customers.
Why might someone post fake reviews? One reason could be that a person wants to boost sales. Another possibility is that a reviewer may want to make money off of the sale. A third option is that a reviewer may want to hurt another business.
Another interesting finding was that the number of reviews correlated strongly with the product's overall rating. This means the more reviews a product gets, the more trustworthy it appears. Finally, the authors concluded that the quality of reviews tends to improve with age. Older reviews tend to be more thorough and accurate than newer ones.
What does this mean for businesses? Well, for starters, it highlights just how important it is to verify reviews. You don't want to rely exclusively on reviews you find on social media or sites. Instead, you should use multiple sources to help you decide what to believe.
How can you check if a review is fake review?
Fortunately, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of fake reviews. Although it's sometimes hard to know if a review is legitimate, there are some obvious red flags that a review might be fake. Fake reviews are vague, contain nonsensical time stamps and location info, and include strange names.
Here are some of the most common signs of infection:
- Extremely high/low scores (e.g., 1 or 5)
- Writing a preliminary review is easy; remember to use the first person, present tense, and many action words.
- If timestamps or location details don't make sense, then they're probably fake.
- People who use pseudonyms instead of their real name
Fake Positive Reviews vs. Negative Fake Reviews
Some fake reviews aren't always positive. In one study, researchers discovered that some companies sometimes post fake negative reviews to damage their competition and steal potential clients.
This is a common tactic used by restaurants and hotel chains to improve their ratings. Let's say there is a large restaurant located near several small restaurants. The owners of the larger restaurant may write bad reviews about the smaller ones to attract guests away from them.
Businesses create fake reviews to ruin rivals.
Fake review sites often employ third-party companies to create propaganda campaigns against their competitors and damage their online reputation. There are even firms that specialize in negative publicity. There are even firms specializing in negative publicity.
Thousands of small and medium-sized businesses yearly lose their jobs due to fake reviews on websites like Amazon, Yelp, etc. For instance, a British chef was fired after he left fake reviews on TripAdvisor to damage the reputation of his competitors.
Consumers use review websites to receive discounts
Businesses know that if they don't care for their unhappy customers, they could lose out on hundreds of potential customers. So they make sure to take good care of their unhappy customers by trying to satisfy them.
Unfairly, many people abuse this tactic by using negative reviews to get special deals and discount codes.
These reviews are misleading and tend to exaggerate minor issues into big ones. However, companies often have to cave into these blackmailing tactics to avoid damaging their reputation more significantly.
Many organizations have internal reviewers.
A lot of businesses hire people who have experience writing fake customer testimonials. They do so because they know how easy it is to get someone else to post something on your behalf. However, if you're trying to build trust with potential customers, you should avoid doing this. You might think you'll gain credibility by posting fake testimonials, but it won't work. People will see right through your attempts to deceive them.
Regarding fake review detection, Yelp catches them using a combination of human reviewers and artificial intelligence.
How Does Yelp's Internal Review Management Work?
Every review submitted on Yelp is automatically evaluated and controlled using Yelp's internal review management system. The system evaluates metrics about the person who submitted the review, including:
- How long had the user used Yelp before they came here?
- How often the user visits the site
- How much Yelp knows
Yelp's algorithm filters out reviews that look suspicious or fake or seem to rant.
Yelp then selects about 25% of reviews to be "highly relevant" and "trustworthy," so they appear at the top of the list when someone searches for a particular business.
Review sites are struggling to prevent fake reviews
Even the largest social media platforms and online review sites haven't been able to combat fake reviews effectively.
Several years ago, Amazon filed lawsuits against thousands of fake review sellers using websites like Fiverr to sell their services. However, that didn't stop them from finding other means to manipulate online reviews.
Businesses sometimes sue people for leaving negative ratings. A roofing company recently filed suit against a customer who left a single-star rating. And a Tennessee lady was recently hit with a lawsuit after she posted a bad review about her doctor online. So it does happen!
Review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have taken several steps to combat fake reviewers and "troll" accounts. These include automated detection systems and human moderators. Some review platforms only let verified users post their ratings, which has been successful for review platforms that can quickly verify real users.
How to get better Yelp reviews.
Fake online review sites have been problematic for honest business owners and consumers. Business owners are strongly incentivized to improve their Yelp pages since they directly affect revenues. Some business owners take extreme and unethical measures to do so.
Here are some natural methods for improving your business's online reputation.
DIY Review management guide to improving your online reviews
- Include a link to your Yelp profile, email signatures, or social media profiles on your website.
- When people walk into your business, remind them that you're on Yelp by putting up signs that say, "People enjoy our products here."
- Post positive reviews on social media sites
- Respond quickly to both positive and negative reviews.
- Report violations of Yelp's terms of service
There are four main categories of review manipulation.
There are several different ways that companies may manipulate their reviews, some of which are obvious and others less so. To be an educated consumer, it's essential to know these things.
The four most common types include:
Buying and selling positive and negative online review comments is a big business.
Fake review sites are everywhere and are not just limited to Yelp. They've infiltrated Google Places, TripAdvisor, and any number of other online directories. And while these sites may be easy to spot, they're also tough to stop. Yelp started requiring users to verify their identity before writing a review to combat fake review fraud. But that hasn't stopped scammers from finding ways around the system. For example, one group created thousands of accounts across multiple cities and countries, then flooded those cities' local business pages with positive 5-star ratings.
You can easily find dozens of websites offering to write fake online reviews for you. And because many people trust online reviews, companies often hire these sites to boost their positive ratings and improve their reputation for potential clients.
There are many different methods that brands use to manipulate reviews. Here we've listed the four most common ones.
You can do a few things to protect your company from fake reviews.
You might not be able to control what people say about your company on Google or Yelp, but you can do plenty of things to improve the quality of these negative comments.
You start by tracking the top review websites for your product or service. Then, when you see something negative, you can respond immediately.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with customer feedback:
- You can encourage positive online reviews by linking to Yelp from your websites and emailing. If you have a storefront, put up notices or window clippings reminding people to leave a review if they liked your business. If you have a storefront, post a notice or window clings reminding people to write a review if they enjoyed your services.
- Always respond to both positive and negative feedback. It shows that you're listening to what your clients are saying and that you will work hard to resolve any issues they might have. Never lose your cool when dealing with complaints.
- Flag online reviews that break Yelp or Google's content rules.
Despite the efforts made by online reviewers and your detective work, it can still be difficult to spot fake customer feedback. This hurts the consumer and the business if an avalanche of fake negative comments hits them. If you're currently facing this issue, it's still possible for you to get back on track.
Yelp review FAQs
What is review manipulation?
As far as we know, there are three main categories of online content manipulations:
- Fake positive/negative comments;
- Paid or incentivized posts;
- Unsolicited negative comments (also known as "trolling").
How can you tell if a review is genuine?
A fake review is often posted by someone who wants to boost their business. They may also be trying to get attention for themselves or their friends. These reviews are often written to attract customers to a particular product or service. Fake reviews can come in various forms.
How can you improve Yelp's bad reviews?
Here are a few ways not to get negatively reviewed online. Don't link to your Yelp page on any website. Don't mention Yelp anywhere on your website. Don't put "Yelp" in your business name. Don't put "review me on Yelp" anywhere on your website. Do share positive online reviews on social media. But quickly reply to both positive and negative ones.
November 16, 2022