Many local businesses rely on business directory websites with reviews to create more exposure for their business and attract new customers. That’s what makes Yelp such a great network. It easily connects local businesses with consumers eagerly searching them out, and gives actual customer feedback to potential customers, and the local businesses themselves.

If your business is already on Yelp, you may have noticed that from time to time your business reviews seem to disappear. This didn’t happen by chance or by accident. The reason is because Yelp’s business directory is so popular that it became susceptible to fraud. Therefore, Yelp wanted to counteract fraudulent reviews that unfairly impact consumer decision by creating an algorithm that could filter out the reviews that don’t seem valid. They did this by creating the Yelp Review Filter, and moving what they refer to as “non-recommended reviews” out from the mix of recommended ones.

What is the Yelp Review Filter?

Yelp shares this video to explain the review filter before all reviews that are not recommended:

It breaks down the review filter algorithm down to the quality of a reviewer– basing information on how many reviews they have left, their account information, and even the area they are located (potentially not recommending a reviewer from Utah who is leaving a single review for a business in Nebraska). However, just like other online algorithms like Google’s search algorithm, other factors and weight given to all of them, is not made publicly available.

While it can certainly be frustrating if it seems like Yelp business reviews you would want to be included are filtered out of your overall rating, Yelp is actually trying to do you a favor by ensuring the overall validity of the network and maintain the faith that their audience places in them.

Where can I find non-recommended reviews?

You can find your non-recommended reviews on your business listing page, underneath all of your recommended (or shown) reviews. Just click on the grey phrase, highlighted below.

Find non-recommended Yelp business reviews at the bottom of all the recommended reviews

Filtered reviews don’t just happen to small business

You may think that only small, local businesses are affected by the filter, but every single business on Yelp is affected, Vivial included. In fact, our rating would be very different if 61 of our 110 overall reviews had not been filtered.

Vivial’s recommended versus non-recommended reviews

If you go to our Yelp profile you will find 49 reviews are recommended:

  • 5-star reviews: 24
  • 4-star reviews: 11
  • 3-star reviews: 0
  • 2-star reviews: 0
  • 1-star reviews: 14

Which gives us an overall 3.6-star rating. But our non-recommended reviews tell a different story:

  • 5-star reviews: 46
  • 4-star reviews: 7
  • 3-star reviews: 2
  • 2-star reviews: 0
  • 1-star reviews: 8

Our filtered reviews give us a 4.5-star rating. All combined we would actually receive a 4-star rating, not a huge improvement from our current 3.6, but a fair increase, especially considering the higher your rating the more likely consumers will buy from your business.

How do we see the impact of filtered reviews?

Just like any business on Yelp, we too can get frustrated that our reviews get filtered, especially since 46 of our 5-star reviews have been filtered out.  That’s a big blow to not only our ranking, but also to consumer access to our positive reviews-  especially considering consumers make a decision about a business after reading an average of 1-3 reviews).

As mentioned, the exact factors and weight given within the filter is not clear. We did further digging within our own reviews in an attempt to shed some light on it and found that most of our recommended reviews are from Yelp user’s with a combination of many reviews, many friends or completed profiles (or all three), but we still can find 6 out of 49 reviews that don’t seem to meet those qualifications but are still recommended. On the flip side, we can find even more reviews that meet those qualifications but are not recommended.

Yelp business reviews that don't matched the assumer Yelp Review Filter qualitfications

What can you do about it?

If your first thought is to not be a part of Yelp, I wouldn’t recommend it. While the algorithm for the Yelp Review Filter doesn’t always seem fair or clear, the power of Yelp business reviews is still very strong, and not managing your listing can do more harm to your business than working with what is available to you.

89% of consumers make a purchase within a week of visiting reviews sites and 29% will visit within a day. 98% of Yelp users have made a purchase from a business they found on Yelp. Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. 92% of users spend at a local business with a 4-star rating, but only 13% will consider using a business with a 1-2 star rating.

Without reading and responding to reviews, your social reputation is completely out of your hands. By responding to all the reviews you receive (whether they are recommended or not) you show that your business cares about your customers and want to help them. You also can have an influence on whether they come back to your business or perhaps even change their review after your interaction.

With over 90 million reviews and an active user base ready to spend money on local business, Yelp is one of the top review sites your business needs to be listed on. Start responding to your reviews and generate more business reviews, and it can lead to an increase of your rating. Even an increase of your rating by 1-star can boost your local business revenue 5-9%.

All businesses are affected by Yelp business reviews, even us! But you don’t have to let non-recommended reviews keep you from seeing positive results. By having a social reputation strategy of responding to Yelp reviews quickly, and using legitimate tactics to generate more reviews, you can build your star rating and online reputation.

Start working your strategy with the help of the Vivial platform, which provides a social to-do list, so that none of your social messages or reviews pass you by, making it easy to respond to customers quickly online. Find out more about how Vivial can help you business manage your online marketing!