Yelp reviews can make or break a small business, especially a restaurant or new business. But like most review sites, what is a small business to do when their Yelp reviews go wrong?
A reader reached out recently with just that situation. She wrote:
I would like to know if you have any advice as to where my sister can get help for a very destructive Yelp situation going on that is rapidly destroying her business.
She went on to say she worked at a local television station and the news department was considering angles to cover the story. Like many bad Yelp situations, the small business in question was being attacked by bad Yelp reviews and the site was unresponsive to her concerns.
Situations like this have happened before. Yelp notoriously tells business owners not to solicit reviews (of any type) or they will remove ones they deem solicited. I’ve offered my own critique of this policy before.
Yelp has also been accused of removing positive reviews of businesses that elected not to purchase advertising on the site. So the history of the review platform is sketchy at best.
Still, a small business cannot force the site to remove Yelp reviews. So if someone decides to go troll crazy over your business on Yelp, you are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Here’s how I responded to the woman’s email. I sure hope this advice helps her and perhaps you:
Sorry to hear your sister is dealing with this. I’ve heard various things about Yelp’s policies and what-not that have never sat well with me. My hope is that if she reaches out to Yelp representatives with the situation, shows there’s false information being posted, etc., and that she’s the victim of some trolling, they would help. But I’ve been told other business owners have done that and been told they won’t do anything unless you buy ads with them.I’ve also always had a problem with Yelp’s policy of telling business owners they should not solicit reviews — implying they shouldn’t solicit positive reviews — yet they give you “Review us on Yelp” stickers for the door and such.The bottom line is that unless Yelp has changed the way it handles obvious troll situations, the only thing your sister can do is respond as positively to each review as possible and encourage her loyal customer to come to her aid and post positive reviews. If the TV station is tracking what’s happening there and Yelp removes the positive ones, but leaves the negative ones, then they’ve got evidence something fishy is going on.Of course, it is also wise to encourage folks to post those positive reviews on Google and other review sites, too. If the difference in reviews on Yelp vs. other reliable review sites is obvious, that’s another point in her feather.