We co-hosted a great webinar today with Grace Hill, featuring Darnell Holloway, Manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp.com.
Darnell is a fantastic presenter and covered a lot of material in this webinar from outlining the Yelp basics to unlocking your free online business tools. He addressed the do’s and don’ts of responding to both positive and negative reviews with real world examples. Despite common perception, 80% of reviews on Yelp are positive and receive 3 stars or higher. Since 84 million people are using Yelp each month, it is a best practice to monitor your Yelp presence to achieve a strong reputation. You can let residents and owners know that you are on Yelp and encourage them to “check in” when they are on site. Darnell also highlighted that when the words “good customer service” were mentioned in a review, the posts consistently ranked higher with more stars.
Darnell directed the audience to biz.yelp.com for property management professionals interested in working on their Yelp account.
Below is the recorded version of the webinar and the presentation slides that Darnell agreed to share with participants so that they had access to all of the great content.
The audience had so many great questions at the end of the webinar and we ran out of time to answer all of them. Below are some of the audience’s questions and Darnell’s answers:
Can you explain the review filtering process? We have some positive reviews that just never show up on Yelp!
First, let me just say that the reason consumers use Yelp – and in turn patronize businesses with good reputations there – is because they trust the content. That’s why Yelp takes a strong stance on content integrity and usefulness. We use automated software to decide which reviews should be highlighted on any given day. The software applies the same objective standard to every review and looks at a lot of different pieces of information. Reviews can become filtered or unfiltered at any time as it picks up new information.
It’s also important to point out that the filter affects both positive and negative reviews. It sometimes affects more positive reviews simply because Yelp users write more positive reviews in the first place. In other cases, it affects positive reviews that appear to have been solicited by business owners (a practice which may seem like a good way to generate more reviews, but which tends to create an unintentional bias). In any event, the filter affects both positive and negative reviews – feel free to check out a random sampling of businesses listed on Yelp to see for yourself. Beyond that our filtering system is one of the reasons why an average of 84 million consumers per month turn to Yelp as a useful source of information.
Do you have to have a paid account on Yelp to get positive reviews?
No, advertisers on Yelp pay for…well, ads. These clearly-labeled Yelp Ads appear in various places on the site including in a single spot at the top of our search results. Along with their ads, advertisers also get to add a photo slide show and video to their business page. Consumer reviews for advertisers are handled exactly the same as consumer reviews for all other non-paying businesses. So no, advertisers never get special powers to remove a negative review, add a positive one or move reviews around on their page.
Before we were aware of how important Yelp is, we received negative reviews. At this point they were posted a long time ago. Should we still respond? I’m concerned that the Yelper will be notified that we responded and hop back on saying, “look how long it takes these guys to respond!” What do you recommend?
You want to take each review on a case by case basis. You can still respond if there is something actionable, or something has changed (new staff, for example) which may address the original concerns in the review. You can also let the reviewer know that you only recently claimed your business owner’s account, and became aware of the situation. Beyond that, if you develop a consistent and diplomatic approach to responding to both positive and critical reviews, you will have more success over the longer term.
If I set up a Yelp business account, will I be notified when a review is posted?
You can update your e-mail notification settings by going to the “Account Information” section of your business owner’s account at biz.yelp.com.