You probably found this page because a customer wrote a bad Yelp review about your business. Or maybe an underhanded competitor tried to drag your reputation through the mud with a few fake Yelp reviews. Whatever happened, we can help.

Yelp is often a source of great concern for our clients. Although the platform is useful for the average consumer, business owners don’t always see it that way. This is especially true if a company has ben on the receiving end of fake Yelp reviews.

While it’s never easy to accept unflattering feedback, nobody expects perfection. In fact, a few neutral comments here and there may actually enhance trust. But when bad Yelp reviews overrun your page, your reputation is at risk. So let’s take a closer look at how to remove Yelp reviews and restore your online image.

Contact us if your company’s revenue is being dragged down by customer complaints.

How bad Yelp reviews affect your business

Yelp averages 145 million unique visitors every month, and 82 percent of them intend to make a purchase. If those users see a wall of negative reviews, they’ll most likely choose to give their money to a competitor. What’s worse, Yelp.com complaints can also seep into your company’s search results and become even more visible. This ultimately boils down to one thing: lost revenue.

Whether you run a giant corporation or a local business, sliding profits are a big deal. But before you can remove Yelp reviews, you’ll need to sort out the real ones from the fake ones.

Examples of legitimate bad Yelp reviews

As we mentioned before, imperfect feedback isn’t the end of the world. In fact, a page with only positive reviews can actually look suspicious. Criticism also sheds light on ways to improve your business. So don’t sharpen your axe just yet. First, let’s take a look at a few reasons why customers may leave bad Yelp reviews.

Negative shopping experiences

No matter how great your business is, there are plenty of times you’ll slip up. Maybe an employee came across as rude, invasive or unhelpful. Or perhaps a customer couldn’t find what they were looking for. Either way, the shopper is likely to go home and post negative complaint about your business.

Product or service didn’t meet expectations

If a product looks or performs differently than advertised, your customers won’t be happy. The same goes for services that aren’t rendered as promised. This is especially true if the refund process is difficult or time consuming. Mismatched expectations and defective products will usually prompt shoppers to submit a online complaint

Honest mistakes

This could apply to a countless situations. For example, a cashier might have shortchanged a guest or overcharged for an item. Or maybe an employee left something out of a bag. While unintentional, these errors could prompt customers to vent their frustrations online.

Constructive criticism

There are some customers who earnestly want to help you improve your business. This is especially likely with new customers or a new business. Maybe your store looks a bit shabby, or your customer service could use some polish. Whatever the reason, try to take any advice your customers provide to heart. After all, they’re only trying to help you succeed.

If you receive a legitimate low star rating, use your business account to respond. You’ll need to sincerely apologize and quickly take action to resolve the issue. By doing so, you’ll show off your customer service skills to potential customers. If you really go out of your way, you might even motivate the customer to delete their review.

How to spot fake Yelp reviews

Like other review platforms, Yelp also has issues with fraud. The Yelp review filter hides anything that violates the content guidelines laid out in their terms of service. Sadly, many false reviews still manage to slip through the cracks.

The average consumer can’t spot fake Yelp reviews, but we’ll show you how to sniff them out. Keep your eyes peeled for these red flags:

Disgruntled former employees

Ex-employees who were fired or who feel they were mistreated by their former employer are often the source of dishonest reviews. These statements are meant to slander your business as an act of revenge.

Personal enemies

This could include your own enemies or your employees foes. Perhaps one of your sales associates recently broke up with her boyfriend. This could prompt him to post a nasty review about her and your business. While it doesn’t quite make logical sense, these things frequently happen.

Competitors

This is a common occurrence across many industries. Business competitors will often create made up accounts or even pay real people to post negative online reviews. Often these fraudsters recommend a competitor while slamming your business.

Accidental posts

Customers can make honest mistakes too. Someone might post a negative review on the wrong Yelp business page by accident. While it may not have been on purpose, this review is still irrelevant.

Just like any other bad Yelp review, it’s important to respond appropriately. Even if the complaint is fabricated, you should still apologize. Then, politely tell the Yelp user that you’re unable to find a record of his or her transaction. This will show other “Yelpers” that you’re serious about providing great customer service. But it will also doubt on a fake Yelp review’s authenticity.

How to remove Yelp reviews

Unfortunately, legitimate Yelp gripes can only be removed by the original authors. So if you want something taken down, you’ll need to provide a solution to their problem. But, that’s not the case with inappropriate or false complaints. Here are some steps you can take to report and remove Yelp reviews.

Claim your Yelp business profile

Before you do anything else, you have to claim your Yelp page. This will allow you to respond to complaints as well as report them to Yelp’s review management team. Flesh out your page with up-to-date business information, including addresses, contact information, hours of operation and pictures of your business and/or product offerings. The more information you include, the more it will appear to potential customers that you care about keeping up your image, particularly if you’re a small business.

Report reviews that violate Yelp’s TOS

Any reviews that Yelp’s algorithm failed to catch for violating its terms of service should be reported to the platform for potential removal. Here are some examples of customer feedback that can be reported:

  • Harassment
  • Threats of violence
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Irrelevant content
  • Fake Yelp reviews
  • Promotional material
  • Private information

To report a Yelp review, click the three dots beside the offending comment and click “report review.” Once Yelp moderators receive the report, they will evaluate the situation and decide whether or not it should be removed.

The process can take several days to complete, but you can check the status any time. To do so, hover over the flag icon next to the review with your cursor. Once the moderators have completed their evaluation they’ll notify you of their decision.

Keep in mind that even if the bad review isn’t taken down, Yelp’s automated software could deem the complaint to be unhelpful or unreliable enough to hide it behind more useful reviews.

Take legal action

You can technically go to court to remove a Yelp review once, but this is only recommended as a last resort (e.g., if you believe the review can be proven to be defamatory, libelous or an attempt by a competitor to destroy your business). Remember that going to court will likely draw your negative attention to your business. And if the case doesn’t go your way, your bad situation could become a disastrous one.

However, If a court of law determines that the review is defamatory, contact Yelp to have it removed. You can reach their support team here.

What Not to Do

It’s easy to make irrational decisions when you’re faced with fake reviews. But if you’re not careful, you could dig yourself into a deeper hole. Heed this sound advice so you don’t make your situation worse:

  • Don’t respond angrily: This won’t make you look good to anyone. Fighting back could cause the author to retaliate and might further alienate customers who witness the exchange. Some might even view your defensive language as a sign of guilt.
  • Don’t spam your page with positive Yelp reviews: If your Yelp page suddenly explodes with too many good reviews, users may rightly assume they’re fabricated. Not to mention that reviews submitted by yourself, your friends or your relatives are violations of Yelp’s terms of service.
  • Don’t buy favorable reviews: Soliciting praise is never the answer to any problem. If Yelp catches you, you’ll have to face the consequences. If customers hear that you’ve engaged in this underhanded practice, though, it’s probable that you’ll lose their trust forever.

Other online review sites

Yelp isn’t the only place people will voice their dissatisfaction about your company. If you find nasty comments on one review site, you’ll probably find more on others as well. Set up a Google Alert and constantly monitor your online reputation to spot trouble before it’s too late. Be sure to check out our entire series of posts on removing unwanted content from Google:

Build Immunity with Positive Reviews

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The best way to avoid bad Yelp reviews is to not get them in the first place. Provide top-notch customer service, sell quality products, and run an ethical business. If you do, your Yelp profile will attract scores of authentic positive reviews that will outweigh any bad ones you may receive.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews, but be cautious not to explicitly ask them to leave you a good rating (that’s another violation of Yelp’s terms of service). If you run your business correctly, you shouldn’t have to. And don’t limit yourself to Yelp. Ask for Google reviews and Facebook Recommendations also.

How We Can Help

Our white-glove online reputation management service can help you remove Yelp reviews from your search results. Ask us how we can organically bury any negative material through SEO expertise and premium content placement. We’ll even push down powerful Yelp Elite posts where searchers won’t find them. Connect with our team for more information.