How Do Bad Yelp Reviews Affect a Business?

Reviews are the modern-day word-of-mouth, which means they are a crucial part of your company’s reputation. As such, it is smart to know how and when to remove Yelp reviews. Consider this maintenance for your local SEO strategy that lets you maximize the benefits of online reviews.

Your reviews will be seen by potential customers. If you have spammy or inaccurate reviews, they may choose to shop at a competitor instead of you.

Take a closer look at the impact of bad reviews, then learn how to delete reviews on Yelp. 

Bad Reviews Vs. Spam Reviews

When it comes to reviews on your Yelp listing, it is important to remember the difference between bad reviews and spam reviews.

A bad Yelp review is an honest review from an unhappy customer. While it can hurt your online reputation, it can also teach you important lessons. Insights from unhappy customers can help you improve the customer experience.

By contrast, spam reviews are either completely or partly untrue. They may be posted by trolls or someone with an ulterior motive. That ulterior motive is usually either to make your business look bad or to make theirs look good. But the important factor is that they are not honest. Therefore, they have no positive impact.

Spam reviews can also refer to reviews that violate the guidelines of the website they are posted on. 

Reasons to Report and Remove Bad Yelp Reviews

The most obvious reason to report and remove bad Yelp reviews is that they can hurt your reputation if you leave them alone. People will see the bad reviews and think poorly of your business. This can encourage them to choose a competitor. 

However, it is not always in your best interests to automatically remove negative reviews. In fact, not all platforms will even let you do this. Review platforms want visitors to get an accurate idea of your business, so they don’t necessarily let you delete reviews you disagree with.

On top of that, deleting all bad reviews can hurt your reputation. It tells people that you aren’t willing to take criticism or own up to your wrongdoings. It also seems like cheating, making potential customers wonder if you would cut corners or lie in other scenarios.

Instead, it is best to respond to negative but true reviews and report and remove fake reviews.

So, how can you tell if it is appropriate to remove or report a review? Yelp makes this easy by offering explicit guidelines of when the answer to can you delete Yelp reviews is yes.

You can report and delete a Yelp review if it meets one of the following major criteria:

→ The reviewer seems to have a conflict of interest – This can include competitors, former employees, or someone promoting a competitor. It also includes someone receiving an incentive for posting their negative review.

→ The reviewer doesn’t outline their own experience – The most common example of this would be if they outline the experience of someone else. It can also include reviews of other businesses, reviews responding to or disputing another review, or a response to another current event. The review may also be copied from somewhere else.

→ The review has inappropriate content – This includes reviews that include hate speech or threatening language. It also includes reviews that contain anyone’s private information, whether that person is a patron or employee.

When you report or flag a review, Yelp will ask you to select the reason you’re removing the review. Yelp gives you a list of reasons to choose from, including:

→ It violates the website’s privacy standards.

→ It has promotional material.

→ It is for another business (or is on the wrong business page).

→ It doesn’t describe the reviewer’s personal experience.

→ An ex-employee or competitor posted it.

→ Someone affiliated with your business posted it.

→ It has false information.

→ It has hate speech, threats, or lewdness.

You will notice that one of the reasons you can report a Yelp review is if it is not factual. It is important to note that Yelp will not always remove this kind of reported review. Instead, they might send you a response that stories have multiple sides. They will encourage you to respond to the reviewer via a direct message or public comment. This avoids a “he said, she said,” scenario. 

If your removal request is because it violates another one of Yelp’s content guidelines, the Yelp moderators are likely to approve the removal. 

Tips for Responding to Negative Yelp Reviews

As mentioned earlier, while you can request to delete any Yelp review, it is best to only do that with spam or fake reviews. In the case of negative reviews, it is more beneficial to respond to them. This will create a more realistic representation of the customer experience. More importantly, it lets you show people that you respond to criticism and accept that there is room for improvement.

As you respond to negative reviews on Yelp, keep the following tips in mind:

→ Apologize and sympathize. Be sincere in your apology.

→ Take responsibility for the problem.

→ Offer an explanation, if necessary.

→ Say thank you (such as “thank you for bringing this issue to our attention”).

→ Address the reviewer by name (or screen name).

→ Ask to take the issue offline.

→ Offer a free service to correct the issue.

→ Offer a free product or service to make up for the issue.

→ Offer another method to make things right.

→ Ask for another chance. 

How to Report Negative Yelp Reviews

Yelp makes it easy to report negative or fake reviews. This is part of the website’s efforts to provide accurate local citations and information. Remember that before you can report and remove a review, you will need to claim your Yelp business profile. 

If you want to flag or report a review, do the following:

  1. Sign in to your Yelp account.
  2. Navigate to “Reviews” on your dashboard.
  3. Select the three dots next to the relevant review.
  4. Select “Report Review.”
  5. Select the appropriate reason to report the review.
  6. Provide any additional information, if requested.

How to Remove Yelp Reviews

Most of the time, you cannot directly remove a Yelp review yourself. Instead, the process of how to delete Yelp reviews will essentially be identical to flagging reviews. From there, Yelp removes the reviews for you. So, as a refresher, you will:

  1. Log in to your Yelp account.
  2. Go to your dashboard, then “Reviews.”
  3. Click the dots next to the review to remove and choose “Report Review.”
  4. Fill out the form.
  5. Wait a few days.
  6. You will get an email once moderators are done evaluating the review.

While you wait for Yelp’s team to evaluate your report, you can also check the status of your flagging efforts.

If you want to check, navigate to the review. Then, hover your cursor on the flag icon next to it. You will see one of two statuses. It may indicate that Yelp is still reviewing your report, or it may say that Yelp decided not to delete the review.

Remember that if you report a fake Yelp review, it is unlikely to get removed by the Yelp admins. Instead, they will encourage you to discuss it with the person who left the Yelp review in question. 

You Can Only Remove Reviews Yourself If You Wrote Them

The only reviews that you can remove from Yelp yourself are those that you wrote. If you wrote a review and no longer want it published, you can:

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Head to “Reviews.”
  3. Navigate to the review in question and select “Remove Review,” the garbage can.
  4. Select “Confirm.”

How to Encourage Positive Reviews

While you might not have full control over the reviews people leave about your business, you can encourage customers to leave positive reviews. The more positive reviews you have, the smaller the impact that a negative review will have. This is good news whether you are waiting for Yelp to review a fake review or need to counter a legitimate negative review.

But how do you get positive reviews? There are plenty of strategies to encourage them, from simply asking to offering incentives for leaving one. Podium can help you generate more reviews by automatically reaching out to your clients.

Remember, with more positive reviews, any negative review on Yelp or another website will have a much smaller impact on your online reputation. Remember that Yelp is just one platform with a reviews section that affects your business’s reputation. Gathering and monitoring reviews on multiple platforms is an important part of establishing a strong online presence and growing your business.

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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