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Why Solicited Reviews are Harmful and What Businesses Can Do Instead

Today, we’re activating over 150 Consumer Alerts to let people know that we’ve caught businesses involved in attempts to deceive them. From a dental practice offering $15 credits for positive reviews to a spa offering refunds for removal of negative reviews, and a vacation company running a contest for $100 gift cards in exchange for reviews, these businesses are attempting to manipulate their reputation online, and that’s not good for consumers or for other businesses who have justly earned their reputations on Yelp without resorting to these sort of schemes.  

screenshot of a Yelp consumer alert applied for solicited reviews

In addition to violating Yelp’s Terms of Service, posting a testimonial without revealing you’ve been compensated can also violate FTC guidelines because it deceives consumers.

If you have evidence suggesting that someone is trying to artificially inflate a business’ rating, please let us know. Yelp relies on Community tips to catch businesses that aren’t playing by the rules.

If you are a business owner considering asking for or offering incentives for reviews, instead try these tips to engage with potential customers:

  1. Claim your free business user account at biz.yelp.com. Verify your contact info, add beautiful photos, and tell consumers a little about yourself. Business pages with more photos and a complete profile get more traffic and reviews than those without.
  2. Focus on great customer service both on and offline. Our data shows that reviews mentioning “good customer service” are five times as likely to be five-star reviews.
  3. Respond to your reviews within 24 hours using Yelp’s free suite of tools. Whether the review is positive or negative, respond the exact same way you would communicate with a customer who was standing in front of you in your business. A prompt diplomatic response is more likely to turn around a negative reviewer and keep positive reviewers engaged.
  4. No matter what type of business you own, grow your business with Yelp’s tools to help you drive transactions with your customers, like Request A Quote.
  5. Use check-in offers to attract attention to your Yelp page.
  6. Tell your customers that you’re on Yelp (online and in person). In-store signage as well as including Yelp widgets in email signatures and on business cards are all ways you can let customers know about your presence on Yelp without pressuring them for a review.
  7. Engage with your local community manager, if there’s one in your area. They can provide tips for maximizing your Yelp listing or hosting events that can connect you with local Yelpers.