Yelp has been influencing buyer behavior for years by allowing its users to write reviews for small and local businesses. According to a Nielsen study, 92 percent of consumers make a purchase after reading a Yelp review. With this in mind, companies place high importance on achieving 4 or 5 star review ratings on Yelp.
There’s just one problem: fake Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, some businesses resort to hiring real people to post fake negative Yelp reviews about a competitor. This will bring the competitors’ ratings down while increasing their own.
The good news is that Yelp knows about this problem and has put out a system to identify fake reviews on the platform and flag them as “not recommended.” A review marked as “not recommended” will still show up on a business listing but will not affect overall review ratings.
Yelp puts a ranking penalty on a business’s website if proven to be involved in generating fake reviews. The company will also have a “Consumer Alert” warning in its review page if it is proven to use fake or solicited reviews.
However, as a business owner, relying on Yelp’s review screening system is not enough. You need to figure out how to remove fake Yelp reviews so you can better manage your brand’s online image and repair a damaged reputation.
How To Spot Fake Yelp Reviews
While Yelp has an efficient system to identify fake reviews, it doesn’t always work. A Harvard Business School report reveals that 20 percent of reviews on Yelp are fake. This is a significant amount of reviews — and some of them might be about your business.
To ensure your business does not fall prey to Yelp fake reviews, you need an efficient system to track online reviews. You need to learn how to spot these and take the necessary steps to have them removed. When you find out how to remove fake reviews on Yelp, you’ll keep your online reputation intact and effectively grow your business.
According to Yelp and review management experts, these are the most common ways to identify a fake Yelp review:
1. Check The Reviewer’s Profile Photo
Fake Yelp reviews are done with fabricated user accounts. Click on the user’s profile photo and do a reverse image search. You might find that their photo comes from a stock image. This means that the author of the review is using a made-up account to submit Yelp fake reviews.
2. Multiple Reviews In Different Locations
Real Yelp reviews come from people who are based on specific locations. If you see a user posting multiple reviews that all sound similar but refers to different cities or states, then it’s likely that those are fake reviews.
3. Reviews For Businesses In Similar Industries
If a user posts negative reviews for several pizza restaurants, then it’s a possibility that the reviews are fraudulent. Fake review schemes work to target business competitors, making sense that the reviews are done specifically for the same industry.
4. Check Your Customer Records
Suppose you keep a record of your customer purchases, it’s a good idea to check if a person who wrote the review was a legitimate customer. Fake Yelp reviews are easy to recognize if you know most of your customers. You can easily spot one that has never even used your business.
5. Check The Language
Another effective method of knowing how to spot fake Yelp reviews is to notice the reviewer’s use of words and phrases. Fake reviewers are usually non-native English speakers. Therefore these reviews may not sound natural to the average American. For instance, writing “100 USD” instead of “a hundred dollars” is a vital sign that the writer is not based in the US.
6. Check Review Photos
Fake Yelp reviews include “customer photos” that are images taken from stock photos and other image sources from the internet. Do a reverse image search by right-clicking on the photo and selecting “search Google for image.” When you find an exact match, then it’s likely that the review is fake.
When you understand what a fake review looks like, then you’re ready to move on and learn how to remove negative Yelp reviews for your business.
How To Remove Fake Yelp Reviews
Fake Yelp reviews can severely damage your brand’s reputation and revenue. It’s crucial to take action and learn how to remove negative Yelp reviews to keep your review ratings accurate. Learning how to remove fake reviews on Yelp can be crucial to repair or improve your business’s online reputation.
Before you can report a fake review, you need to claim your business listing on Yelp if you have not done so yet. Once that’s done, you can then log in to your Yelp business account and do the following:
1. Go to the Reviews page of your business account.
2. Find the review you suspect is fake and click on the three-dotted icon on the top, right corner.
3. Click on Report Review.
4. Choose the reason for flagging the review from a drop-down list.
5. Submit the report and wait for Yelp to contact you via email.
According to Yelp’s guidelines, there are three main reasons why they would consider removing a review. These are:
• The reviewer has a conflict of interest (promoting a competitor, former employee, solicited reviews).
• The review does not focus on the reviewer’s own experience (another person’s experience, plagiarized content).
• The review includes inappropriate material (hate speech, profanity, private information)
The first reason is the most common one for reporting fake reviews, but you can also use the other two reasons if it applies to the review. The key is to provide Yelp with supporting evidence that builds a strong case for them to agree with your report. There is no exact formula for knowing how to remove negative Yelp reviews, but with these guidelines, you should get the best results.
Can I Ask Customers For Yelp Reviews?
Learning how to remove fake reviews on Yelp is a great way to manage your online reputation, but what about generating positive reviews? It may sound harmless to ask your customers to leave a Yelp review, but this is not advisable.
Yelp wants to post reviews that are made from the customer’s own volition without any outside influence. In addition, it is against Yelp’s Review Guidelines to solicit reviews from your customers. Here’s what Yelp has to say about this matter:
Please don’t ask your customers to review your business on Yelp. Over time, solicited reviews create bias on your business page — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. You should also never offer compensation (discounts and freebies count too) in exchange for reviews.
Based on this statement, it’s clear that Yelp only values reviews that are unbiased. As a business, it is wise to abide by this guideline if you are serious about growing your business with genuine customer reviews.
As the power of online reviews grows, some businesses resort to fraudulent methods to get their ratings up while bringing down their competitors. As a result, honest businesses struggle to find out how to remove fake reviews on Yelp while losing revenue in the process.
As unfortunate as this may be, you have the opportunity to build a solid review management system that guards against these threats. Yelp remains one of the best sources of leads for businesses, so negative and fake reviews should not stop you from using this platform.
To ensure your brand’s reputation, you need to focus on legitimate methods to generate positive reviews while learning how to remove fake Yelp reviews.
Want to manage your online reputation with real reviews that customers trust? Rize Reviews provides an online reputation management software that monitors customer feedback across all channels including Yelp to help you track and manage all reviews for your business.
When it comes to Yelp fake reviews, we offer assistance in reporting them to Yelp and removing them. Ready to try Rize? Contact us to get started.