I spent several hours analyzing reviews on both Google Maps and Yelp and even other review sites. I now have some greater insights to what (might) be going on. Watch the screen capture video above and read below. Then let me know your thoughts on this matter in the comment section below.
Note: None of my insights are based on a proven test or science, this is me just looking at things in greater detail, reading in between the lines and using common sense and logic to come to some probable conclusions.
Let’s crush a myth
I want to kill one review myth now. The myth that you cannot solicit for reviews on Yelp and Google Local or other review sites is not really true.
“There is an important distinction between ‘Hey, write a review about me on Yelp,’ [BAD] and ‘Hey, check us out on Yelp!’ [GOOD],” said Luther Lowe, Director of Outreach and Public Policy at Yelp. “It’s the difference between actively pursuing testimonials and simply creating awareness of your business through social media outlets.”
It’s all in how you do it. What you CAN NOT do is Tweet:
“Write a review on Yelp for us and win dinner for two (a value of $120) at our fabulous Sushi Bar. Present review to hostess when you come in. #Yelp #Sushi”
That would be a no-no.
How to ask for a review without asking for a review?
Let people know you exist on review sites, just don’t offer incentives in exchange for reviews. You get the idea.
It’s okay (in my humble opinion) is to ask lots of questions both offline and online that lead people to know you are listed online and reviews are important to your business. Letting customers know their opinion matters is a good thing.
Ask things like:
- Do you Yelp?
- Do you like Google Local?
- How did you find us or hear about us?
Check-ins are golden!
Train your staff on the importance of social checkins
- Google Local
Engagement is key to local marketing success!
This is the most important take away!
Google and other web properties like Yelp are now looking at signals that show engagement. Your goal as a small businesses should be to
network ’engage’ with local power users.
If you can get power users to checkin and/or review you local business you’ll be golden! Look for users who have left reviews (and ideally recently), have friends or circles, who comment and are actively checking into other businesses. Hangout on your competitors social pages and scope out the power users. Friend them, circle them, and engage them in an invite to your local business.
Things to ask yourself as you are looking for power users:
- Do they have filled out profile?
- Do they have an image or avatar?
- Do they have friends?
- Do they have people circling them?
- Are they circling others?
- How often do they post?
- Do they comment?
- Where are they posting?
- Where are they checking in?
- What types of businesses are they reviewing?
- Are their reviews positive or mostly negative (if someone only leaves negative reviews, you may not want to invite to your business )
What causes reviews to get filtered?
By studying Yelp’s filtered reviews, you can see a pattern that most of the reviews that get filtered were from users who did not engage. They had no friends, no other reviews (or very little) and top of that sometimes showed reviews that contained too many ‘deceptive’ keywords in their review. I believe that if you have an account that shows no activity and your review shows too many deceptive keywords that are usually associated with review spam, then whack! That review will not make the cut and will be filtered.
I wonder if you get too many filtered reviews if can affect rankings or if your listing can be penalized? What your thoughts on that…? Let me know in the comments below.
How can one get around Yelp’s review filter?
The problem with these filters is that they totally filter out perfectly legitimate reviews from folks who do not yet have enough Yelp cred (basically have not history of participation). I believe this may be happening in Google Places right now too.
My buddy Darren over at Whitespark led me to this post, which offers some amazing insights on ways you might be able to yank your legitimate reviews out of Yelp’s filter.
“To get reviews out of the filter I went into my filtered reviews and pulled up the reviewer’s individual review of Park Slope Eye. I began to engage that review and reviewer. I sent the reviewer a compliment, a message, and voted the review as useful, funny, or cool depending on the context. I did that for all of the reviews. Lastly, I added them as a friend, which you can do as a business owner. After doing all of this the review was taken out of the filter and is publicly accessible.”
This might work too on Google + Local. If you know a client or customer has left a legitimate review, then reach out and ask for their profile (too bad Google doesn’t show filtered reviews). Tell them “we need to get you hooked up.” Then circle them, get them to circle you back. Ask them to leave another review some other business. Who knows with participation maybe it’ll show up…?! What do you think, can you recover legitimate review from these filters? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Hard to fake engagement
Real engagement is really, really hard to fake. And even if you can, it’s way too expensive to do it on mass scale. Engagement from power users is the new ‘link’. These are the types of signals you want to be sending. If you add this type of marketing into your already more traditional search engine marketing (guest posting, content creation, press releases, etc) you’ll knock it out of the park!
Looking forward to people’s thoughts on this manner below. Do share, together we can figure this stuff out.