Yelp Cracks Down on Fake Reviews

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For some time now, Yelp has led the way in providing useful information to would-be consumers. I can’t tell you how any times I’ve been looking for a place to eat or some form of entertainment and turned to my trusty Yelp app for help. Now having said that, I’ve also become skeptical as of late because of ads like this that I’ve seen on Craigslist:

“*~*~*~ Write Yelp Reviews ~*~*~* (New York)

Get paid to write Yelp reviews. 10 minutes. $20 per review.

Must already have a Yelp account that is at least 6 months old with activity on it.

Please send us your Yelp profile link so we can make sure you qualify.”

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This is proof that, as with all good things, people have figured out ways to take advantage and scam an otherwise good system. Luckily, Yelp is not sitting back idly watching their service get watered down. Instead, they’re actively making changes to combat such fraud and punish businesses that won’t play by the rules.

Consumer Alert

What is Yelp doing to fight the good fight? Well, not only are they tightening up their review filter (which honestly seems to be pretty good), but they are hacking into the pages of guilty businesses and branding them with a sort of scarlet letter. Basically what they do is place a message right there for all to see that calls them out, letting consumers know that the company got “caught red-handed trying to buy reviews.”

Yelp then keeps the alert on the company’s page for 90 days. At that point, should the business not get caught up in anymore shady schemes, Yelp removes the alert. The hope is that the public shame will be enough to scare businesses away from review-buying scams.

Don’t Buy Reviews Unless You Want a PR Nightmare

Will people keep paying people to write them reviews? Of course. No matter what Yelp does, someone will game the system. It’s just like SEO. People find and jump through. As soon as the loopholes close, they search and find another one. Many get caught, but others are fast enough to keep it up.

But what can you learn from all of this? Well, basically what it comes down to is that it’s not worth it. You have to weigh your options here. Is taking a chance on suffering public humiliation worth buying a couple of good reviews? Consider this, if you get caught and that alert gets placed on your page, the hurt will last much longer than the 90 day period that the alert is visible. Consumers will see it, tell their friends and post it all over Twitter and Facebook, and your reputation will be mud.

Your best option for using Yelp is to offer great customer service and let customers know about your Yelp presence. Will everyone give you 5 stars? Of course not. But let’s be honest—no one expects perfection.

What about the Yelpers who accept cash to write fake reviews? Should they be punished too? Discuss!

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in press release writing and distribution. Download the free whitepaper LinkedIn for Business here:

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