We’ve been vocal about Yelp’s policy against asking for or soliciting reviews: don’t do it. Long story short, soliciting reviews leads to biased content, and Yelp’s priority is to encourage quality content that best reflects the opinions of the Yelp community.
We are seeing an increase in the number of companies out there that are offering solicitation services to local businesses as a way to artificially inflate their search rankings and online reputations. This might look like surveys they send to customers, or they might be asking for reviews online without a business’s knowledge.
If we have found indicators of extreme efforts to manipulate search results on Yelp by soliciting reviews, a business may receive a Consumer Alert, a program we’ve had in place since 2012. Now, we are also demoting business pages in Yelp search results that show indicators of organized review solicitation through reputation management companies. We are taking this action because promoting biased reviews, or promoting businesses that have artificially inflated their ratings, is misleading for consumers and unfair to businesses that have honestly earned their great reputations while adhering to Yelp’s policies. Businesses will have the opportunity to avoid a search ranking penalty by ceasing any review solicitation and verifying compliance with Yelp’s policies. Read more in the Yelp support center.
Over the years, as online reviews have increased in importance for consumers making buying decisions, we’ve seen a correlated increase in efforts to manipulate reviews. It’s unfortunate, but something that Yelp has worked to protect consumers and our platform against since our earliest days. We’re constantly evaluating our protections and introducing new measures when necessary.
We know that it’s tempting for businesses to ask for reviews and that other review and social sites not only allow it, but actively encourage this kind of solicitation to boost content. That’s why we are working hard to educate both businesses and consumers about why review solicitation is against Yelp’s policies.
It might feel like the easy solution to creating a great online reputation — just ask all your customers for reviews — but it can actually unfairly boost a business’s online search ranking and star rating. Even if businesses try to ask all of their customers equally for reviews, it still often leads to a positive review bias. In the long run, the best approach is to not interfere with the natural flow of reviews. Taking the time to respond to reviews and provide great customer service will go much farther in building a great reputation for a business on Yelp.
See our full guide to success for business owners for specific ways businesses should engage on Yelp.