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Maverick's Morning Thoughts

Yelp Prioritizes Profit Over Your Business's Reputation

Maverick Steffen  -  1/6/2024

You understand the value of maintaining a five-star reputation online, particularly on platforms like Yelp.

You pride yourself on offering exceptional products and services that inspire customers to leave glowing reviews.

However, your goals and Yelp's goals are not always aligned.

Yelp is not in the business of celebrating your success. Their primary concern is not your customers or their experiences. Instead, Yelp is focused on generating advertising revenue, increasing user engagement, and expanding their user base.

That's it and nothing more.

But I don't need to tell you what they're thinking because their own words and actions demonstrate this.

The Hidden vs. Unhidden Reviews:

Yelp claims to use an algorithm to filter out reviews that appear to be from bots or are otherwise inauthentic.

However, it's been observed that reviews are more likely to be prominently displayed (unhidden) if they meet certain criteria:

1- The author is an active Yelp user.

2- The author has a network of friends on the platform.

3- The author has a history of leaving reviews.

4- The author has been using Yelp for a considerable period.

5- The review wasn't solicited directly by your company. In other words, you can't ask your happy customers for a review--this is actually their policy!

This means that if your customers aren't regular Yelp users, their reviews might not make the cut.

That may not be important for a local foot traffic business with thousands of customers, but for a national company with a couple hundred customers, you may have a big problem.

While it might seem that Yelp is dominated by a particular type of user who frequently leaves feedback, this doesn't mean your business is doomed.

In my opinion, the platform does host a vibrant community genuinely interested in sharing their experiences.

Yelp is not in the business of celebrating your success. Their primary concern is not your customers or their experiences. Instead, Yelp is focused on generating advertising revenue, increasing user engagement, and expanding their user base.

However, I take strong exception to the fact that if Yelp is not your customer's hobby, their opinion of your business will be hidden from the platform.

Strategies for Garnering Yelp Reviews:

Here are some strategies you might consider, although be warned - they are time-consuming:

1- Engage with All Reviews: For negative reviews, reach out and offer a better experience. For positive reviews, express gratitude. That's easy enough!

2- Diversify Your Review Strategy: Encourage reviews on multiple platforms, not just Yelp. That's easy enough!

3- Educate Your Customers: Encourage your customers to befriend other Yelp users and leave reviews for other companies on their platform.

That is not so easy, and basically you're just recruiting new Yelpers, like a cult.

It's worth noting that many of my past clients have poured money into Yelp with little return.

Last year I acquired a new client that was spending $3,600+/month on Yelp, and never made one penny in return, as far as he was concerned.

Some of my clients have even noticed a suspicious pattern of positive reviews disappearing once they disengage from paid services.

This is not just hearsay - a quick search will reveal Yelp's own mixed reviews across the web. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Take a look as this Reddit post:

How is Yelp still in business?

It blows my mind. My family business is a very large, reputable and well known construction company by pretty much everyone that lives in our city. Excellent word to mouth, over 35k customers, have won multiple small business of the year awards.


We have 530 google reviews at a 4.6 rating. A+ BBB with 4.5 rating and so on. They’re all consistent.. except yelp. 1.5 rating .. negative reviews by people literally posting “don’t like their advertising” and insulting reviews that we have no where else (even the negative reviews anywhere else aren’t even close to how bad the yelp ones are). There’s not one positive review. We have like 70+ positive reviews all hidden because of suspicious content lol.

The bottom line is Yelp's business model revolves around selling advertising space to businesses seeking new customers. The platform's profitability hinges on user traffic: more users mean more advertising revenue. Consequently, unless your reviews contribute to attracting more users and boosting Yelp's monetization potential, they will most likely be hidden, rendering positive feedback for your company useless.

Facebook also relies on traffic and allows users to leave reviews. They just aren't desperate to get them...

Now bear in mind, I think this issue is isolated more to service-based companies with a small volume of customers. Local companies with large volumes such as restaurants, bakeries, etc. don't seem to run into too many problems because the average Yelper seems to love reviewing these types of companies.

While Yelp can be useful for local companies, it can also be a huge pain the butt for national-based companies.

Focus on building genuine relationships with your customers and encouraging honest feedback across various platforms. Remember, your reputation is built one customer at a time, both online and off.

In the grand scheme of things, Yelp is just one piece of the puzzle. Your relentless pursuit of excellence in your business will shine through, regardless of their-cult-like platform.

To your success!


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