The Online Reputation Management Blog

Amanda Marie

12 min read

Are Yelp reviews reliable?

The success or failure of your business can hinge on its online reviews. But more and more people are asking themselves if online reviews are even trustworthy. 

From choosing the best hotels and restaurants in town to consulting the right doctors, most people rely on online reviews. Reviews are quickly replacing friend recommendations to become the main way we vet businesses against one another. In fact, we rely on online reviews so much that a single bad review can completely ruin the online reputation of a company.

One study suggests that 91% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—as long as the reviews are authentic. But about 20% of reviews are fake. So can you really trust Yelp business reviews?

People see star-ratings first

Yelp itself states that 88% of people are "more likely to look past a negative review if they see that the business has responded and appropriately addressed the issue." But that statistic is based on people actually reading reviews. Most people look at the star-rating first. If it's not high enough they may not even read the reviews.

Yelp has been suspected of allowing businesses to pay for more prominent placement in search results. This would be a problem for good reason – this practice can destroy the credibility of the reviews we read.

This makes it even harder for honest reviews to rank over various types of review manipulation. And it also makes it difficult to constantly monitor all the new reviews for a business.

Yelp algorithm vs. motivated humans

The fact is, businesses with higher star-ratings and better reviews get more customers. While Yelp may not always be a trustworthy source, they do make an attempt. Yelp tries to improve its algorithm to weed out fake reviews, but it's tough. It's a lot easier to create fake reviews than it is to create an algorithm to detect them. 

If a business is found to have faked reviews Yelp puts a nasty message on the business' Yelp page. Many business owners just shrug this off. After all, they're trying to feed their families and in their eyes Yelp is just getting in the way. 

Let's remember that businesses don't ask to have Yelp pages created. And for those businesses that don't want to be listed on Yelp, getting a page deleted is almost impossible. What's a business to do?

The cost of creating fake reviews is generally far less than the cost of finding waiters who never, ever, have a bad day. So if the cost of creating fake reviews is less than the cost of perfection, and the worst thing that may happen is a nasty message on a Yelp page the business doesn't even want, many business owners ask the question "why not?".

It turns out that staying in business is a great motivator for trying to game Yelp.

Common types of review manipulation 

This blog will share some of the most common types of review manipulation, and what you can look out for to become a more informed buyer. It's time to stop trusting reviews at face value and take a more critical stance when researching businesses online.

4 most common types of review manipulation:

7 min read

How to fix a broken online reputation

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You Google your company and BAM! Everything changes. How is this affecting prospects? Are sales down? Will this ever go away?

Of all the categories involved in managing online reputation, reputation repair is the one most fraught with confusion and a lot of stress. It happened suddenly, but it can take a long time to fix, depending on the issue. 

Humans hate criticism - founded - but especially wen it is unfounded. Any sort of negativity directed toward your personal brand (everybody has one) or your business  —earned or otherwise—holds an immense power to inflict damage in both the present and the future. How you respond can either improve the situation or exacerbate it, and with the stakes so high, not many can afford a misstep.

7 min read

How to build a reputation online

Prospective customers compare the search profiles between competitors. New businesses normally don't have the level of search profile that mature companies do. That puts new companies at a disadvantage.

Reputation and reviews drive the success of businesses worldwide. Every month, approximately 543,000 new businesses open up. 70% of new businesses survive at least two years, half at least five years, and a third at least ten years. Just a quarter of all new businesses survive for 15 years or more. 

8 min read

A reputation management Checklist that works

If you’re musing about improving your online reputation, it might help to have an idea of the direction you’re going in. This brief guide can help you formulate a plan and take action.

Reputation management is, of course, a continual effort. We have outlined both the groundwork and the tune-up work to keep your reputation in the best possible shape for the long run. 

First, take stock of your online reputation: 

  • Listen for mentions
  • Examine your reviews
  • Check the accuracy of your online profiles 
  • Level set against the competition
  • Locate any problem online content
  • Perform outreach to a list of publishers

Continue to monitor your reputation in the long term:

  • Manage online reviews
  • Clean up your social media presence

Find out exactly how to do these things in this blog.