“Where Are All My Yahoo Local Business Reviews? I Can’t Find Them!”
Many small business owners are asking, “Why aren’t my business’s reviews showing up on Yahoo Local?” The reason? Yelp (review site extraordinaire) has recently partnered with Yahoo! Local. For small business owners, that means that the cache of reviews they’ve cultivated on Yahoo! Local over the years have suddenly disappeared and have now been replaced with reviews from Yelp.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article highlighting many business owners’ frustrations with the change and it is certainly understandable. Many small businesses rely on online reviews to attract new customers. Think about it: if your search for “sushi restaurant in Poughkeepsie” displayed a result with one star next to a review with five stars where are you going to be enjoying spicy tuna rolls that evening? I’d wager at the restaurant with 5 stars.
Online ratings don’t happen overnight. A positive online review is worth its weight in gold for a small business owner. Multiple positive online reviews are a diamond mine. It takes a very long time – years – to cultivate multiple positive reviews and for them to all disappear overnight is definitely enraging. But, at this point – the damage is done. The only way to keep your Yahoo Local reviews up is to not have any Yelp reviews. The Yahoo! Local reviews are still shown if a business does not have any reviews on Yelp. But most likely if you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you hit Google asking, “Why aren’t my business’ reviews showing up on Yahoo local?” and they’re already gone. So, what’s the best strategy moving forward?
How To Get Reviews on Yelp
You may not like this answer, but there are no fast and surefire ways to get reviews on Yelp. Yelp’s terms of service prohibit asking or incentivizing positive reviews. How does Yelp know if you’ve asked someone to write a review? They use proprietary software that scans each review and designates it as “recommended” or “not recommended.”
How does Yelp decide whether a review is recommended or not recommended?
No one really knows for sure, but it seems as though reviews that are written by users with an established profile (i.e. a picture, other reviews, etc.) tend to be recommended. Also, it seems as if Yelp’s software takes into account the quality of writing in the review as well as the length of it. Finally, it also seems to weigh the frequency of a user writing 5 star (or 1 star) reviews. Simply put, if a user is writing 5 star reviews for establishments all over the globe, it’s probably safe to assume it’s not an actual person giving thoughtful reviews but rather a fake account being paid to create good reviews.
But Really, How Will Yelp Know I Asked My Customers to Write a Review?
Yelp’s software also seems to look at the frequency of users coming to review your business. So, let’s say you send out an email blast asking your customers to write a review on Yelp. To incentivize the deal you offer a 20% discount on your service. Before the email blast you had 2 reviews, written 2 months apart from one another. After the email blast is sent, 20 of your customers write a review all in the span of one day. Yelp’s software will probably notice, and flag all of these reviews as “not recommended.”
How to Use Yelp as a Business Owner
Your best bet is to provide stellar service and to create an experience that your customers will want to write home – well, write Yelp – about. Yelp also gives you as a business owner to engage users who have left you negative reviews and attempt to reconcile the users’ misgivings. Even if the review is completely outrageous and unfounded, responding diplomatically goes far to provide other users who may be following the dispute a sense of assurance that you’re concerned with customer experience.
How to Remove your Business From Yelp:
Yelp is of the mindset that allowing users to discuss their experiences in such an open forum gives business owners an incentive to provide superior customer service. They also believe that it gives business owners the opportunity to hear constructive criticism and feedback about where they can improve. While feedback and criticism is always helpful, many business owners would prefer to not have it be doled out so publically. But, the reality of the situation is that Yelp is here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). It’s business listings are pulled from other directories and any user can add a business that isn’t listed.
What’s the Best Way to Use Yelp? (AKA “If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em”)
You can’t remove your business listing from Yelp, but you can make the best of it. Yelp listings rank high in search results, so utilize all the options Yelp gives business owners. Claim your business page, if you haven’t done so already. Add a link to your business’s website. Add descriptions of your services that include terms your customers are likely to be searching for. Upload photos. Engage with your users – and not just on the negative reviews! Say “thanks” to users who write positive reviews. Try to see any less-than-perfect criticism as an opportunity to improve.
I do think it’s a shame that Yelp couldn’t have somehow imported Yahoo! Local directory results to Yelp’s website or at least branded existing Yahoo! Local sites to Yelp. But, at the end of the day, the internet changes all the times and we have to make the best of it and roll with the punches.