Manning Search Marketing

(709) 701-2422

The battle of the reviews

On one side you have Google encouraging reviews, and on the other side you have Yelp stating a Review Solicitation penalty. Two companies on different sides of how they deal with reviews. And on each site, reviews are big business and do matter.

Yelp-vs-Google-Review-SolicitationGranted with both there are issues. On Google, the issue is dealing with false/fake reviews. These are virtually impossible to remove do to Google’s lack of reasonable guidelines regarding fake reviews. The one main way to deal with negative reviews is to post an appropriate response and get more positive reviews.

Then on the other side with Yelp, you have legitimate customers, but according to Yelp, you should not ask them for a review or they’ll give you a penalty. Ouch.

On their site Yelp states:

Businesses should not ask for or solicit reviews on Yelp, as it leads to deceptively biased content. This includes asking friends, family, or customers to write reviews; offering incentives or freebies in exchange for reviews; or working with companies that send review solicitation emails.

With Yelp, it is a tricky situation one can get in. If you do attempt to ask reviews for Yelp, there are some dead giveaways that will set off their sensors.  First, if the Yelper created a new account, writes one review and doesn’t participate in Yelp or writing other reviews. There’s a good chance that will review will go to the not recommended. Next, getting too many reviews on your Yelp listing within a few days (is even worst) and especially if they are all new Yelp Users. A sudden surge of reviews is almost guaranteed to get your listing caught in Yelps algorithm. Often what happens is the person seeking the reviews manages to get one review to show for a day, then they go for more thinking it’ll be alright, and vola you may be going to the penalty box. These are only two simple examples.

This is not to say that having not recommend reviews will drop you in your Yelp rankings. You can easily find sites that are ranking high and still have those not recommend reviews. When talking to a Yelp Representative this year regarding reviews that go into the not recommended. For the most part, a user will need to be a regular active user for their reviews to show. So there’s always the possibility that hidden reviews could become recommended. Those users just need to be active. Naturally to rank high in a competitive category, you are going to need to have some trustworthy reviews.

Now with Google, if you’ve ever had to deal with a review that was legitimately not a customer or never interacted with your company/store. You’ll realize that Google’s guidelines for reviews does not give you a whole lot of protection. You can call Google Support, email them via their Facebook Account or their Twitter account. You will get the same response, and generally not very helpful. On the image to the right, this is an actual response from Google My Business regarding a very odd fake review. Nothing was able to be done regarding removing the review.

Now with Yelp, dealing with fake reviews is much better, but it’s not an easy task getting one removed still. I’ve had to deal with this issue for a client in the past. This particular fake reviewer kept on re-posting the exact same negative review over a dozen times. This reviewer managed to have one of their reviews show, and the rest were not recommended. The funny thing was in this situation, this poster reposted the negative review so much that Yelp took down all of his reviews. So on the side of getting negative reviews deal with, Yelp wins in this respect.

Showing their stance on reviews, each has a page regarding these exact practices. Google encouraging reviews, and Yelp threatening a Review Solicitation Penalty.

Both need to change their stance on some aspects of reviews, come to a more common ground. Google needs to have a better system for handling bulk paid reviews, paid reviews and fake reviews. And Yelp needs to lighten up their tight noose on their review solicitation policy.

We live in a very busy world and we are often too busy or forget about that awesome experience we’ve had with a particular business, so sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we should say something nice.

So if you have an active Yelp account, do something nice and give a business you recently had dealings with, write a positive review. But don’t tell them I sent you there. 🙂

 Google: Encouraging Review Solicitations. Create a link for customers to write reviews

Yelp: Review Solicitation Penalty