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How to get reviews on Yelp (and why some Yelp reviews don’t show)

Most customers are researching your business long before they ever decide to visit you or pick up the phone. A large part of that process is looking at your online reviews. Since Yelp is one of the big dogs when it comes to online reviews, it’s important to monitor your business’s Yelp reviews and understand how they work.

Yelp has some pretty strict guidelines when it comes to acquiring and displaying reviews on your public business profile.

The main thing Yelp warns against is: don’t ask for positive reviews. It is important to Yelp to have reviews come in organically, and asking customers to leave a good Yelp review means that they were prompted (and possibly bribed) to leave a review in favor of your business.

However, it’s very difficult to get new reviews on any platform without asking someone for it. It may take years before you ever see your first Yelp review if you never ask for one. But there are ways that you can help encourage your customers without asking them outright to leave a good review for you.

How to encourage customers to leave Yelp reviews

Give some of these methods a try to help guide your customers to Yelp without soliciting reviews from them.

Put up Yelp signs & stickers

Place “Review us on Yelp” signs or stickers throughout your business–on the front door, in the lobby, on your menus. This places Yelp at the forefront of your customer’s mind and gives them a gentle nudge towards Yelp if they think to leave a review.

Add a link to Yelp on your website & other marketing materials

Link to your Yelp business profile on your website. Yelp has badges that you can embed on your website (you can find them here). Place these on your contact page and in the footer of your website, or send them out in your email marketing campaigns.

Ask for a review

Wait just a second...didn’t you just say not to ask for reviews? Yes, but the line is a little blurry here. Yelp doesn’t want businesses to ask for good reviews. They want positive reviews to be organic, not solicited or rewarded. So don’t ask for a good review. Just ask for a review. Of course, you’re never going to ask an unhappy customer for a review, so you’ll only receive positive reviews from this strategy.

Why aren’t your reviews showing up on Yelp?

You’ve started getting some Yelp reviews–you know this because you get the email notifications or specific customers told you that they left a review. But where on earth are they?

This is another example of Yelp’s strict rules when it comes to reviews. Yelp has a “review filter” that keeps specific reviews from being displayed on your public business profile. This is their attempt to keep public reviews organic.

On any Yelp business profile, you’ll see the “recommended reviews” section near the bottom. Any reviews that Yelp deems legitimate will appear here. All other reviews get hidden within a link that says “reviews that are not currently recommended.”

If you click that link, you’ll see all of those other reviews that you’ve been getting.

Unfortunately, even legitimate reviews often fall prey to the review filter and get moved to the “not recommended” section. Why does that happen?

Yelp has specific guidelines for which reviews they will display. Currently, it seems that they hide reviews that meet the following criteria:

  • The reviewer has only left one review
  • The reviewer has no friends on Yelp
  • The reviewer doesn’t have a profile picture
  • The review is strongly slanted (either positively or negatively)
  • The review is short and doesn’t have enough detail
  • The review is from a location that doesn’t match the business’s location

These are all indicators to Yelp that the review may be fake or solicited. Sometimes, this filter does catch negative reviews, which is nice, but it also filters out a lot of legitimate reviews that would be helpful for your profile.

How can you help your reviews make it past the “review filter”?

There’s not a lot that you can do here without interfering with the natural review process. But here are a few things that you can try to help make the review and the reviewer more legitimate in Yelp’s eyes.

  • Add the reviewer as a friend from your personal Yelp account
  • Send a message to the reviewer on Yelp
  • Respond to the review (you should be responding to all reviews already)
  • Vote the review as “Useful” or “Funny” from your personal Yelp account

You can also have other members of your business or friends and family take these steps to help your reviewers appear more legitimate. But PLEASE don’t ask friends and family to leave a review on your Yelp account unless they were a customer of yours.

Our recommendation

Continue to seek out opportunities for reviews on your Yelp listing. But don’t stress too much about all of your positive reviews not showing. As long as you have a good star rating and some positive reviews showing up on your profile, just let them keep coming in naturally.

If you’re going to put a lot of time and effort into any review strategy, we recommend focusing on Google, especially if you’re in any other industry outside of the restaurant industry (because Yelp is still pretty popular for restaurant reviews).

Need help coming up with a review strategy for your business? Give us a call today to see what we can do.

Don’t have a Yelp account for your business? Check out our guide: Creating and claiming a Yelp account for your small business

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