As more consumers turn to Yelp to help make purchasing decisions, your small business’s reputation on this is more critical than ever before. If you’ve ever visited Yelp, you might have noticed that while some reviews are obviously legitimate and helpful, others are simply fake.
Some businesses out there aren’t playing by the rules, and they try to get positive Yelp reviews by paying people to post them. These fake reviews are often easy to spot, but ultimately, buying and selling fake reviews is harmful to consumers who are looking online for the best businesses.
How Is Yelp Handling It?
About a year and a half ago, Yelp decided to combat these fake reviews by issuing Consumer Alerts. So if your business was caught trying to get fake reviews, customers who search for your business on Yelp would see a message explaining that someone from the business has been acting dishonestly—not a good message to send to your customers.
Any small business owner wants to avoid getting a Consumer Alert at all costs. Even if you’ve had a positive review on your Yelp page, it will be discredited if there is also a Consumer Alert on your page. Without question, this flag from Yelp can be devastating to a small business’s reputation. To learn more about managing your online reputation, turn to our local marketing experts for help.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t pay directly for positive reviews, you can also be flagged for offering discounts, gifts, or any type of incentive in exchange for a review.
If your business does get hit with a Consumer Alert that you think might be a mistake, it is important for you to address the matter with Yelp as quickly as possible.
Yelp Turns Up the Heat on Violators
When the program was first launched, only a handful of businesses were faced with the dreaded Consumer Alert box on their Yelp page. But now, according to some sources, nearly 300 businesses have been flagged with an Alert in only a few months.
Given that this is a major area of concern for Yelp, which is protecting its own reputation as a consumer review website, it is likely that Yelp will continue to crack down on people and businesses that aren’t playing by its rules.
The Bottom Line
As long as you’re running your small business with integrity, you probably don’t need to worry about Yelp’s Consumer Alerts. In fact, we in the local internet marketing business understand that Yelp’s recent moves are actually good for small business owners as well as consumers. When consumers can rely on trustworthy a source of information, they’re bound to find the small business—possibly yours—that fits their needs.