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Challenges with Yelp as a Review Platform

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What Small Businesses Should Know About Yelp

Business reviews are great for your business. Today, there are many review platforms, including Google My Business, Facebook, Yahoo, Local Listings and, of course, Yelp. You could stick with one or use them all, as long as you have a place to collect business reviews.

Yelp is free and allows users to rate you on a 5-star scale. It sounds pretty straight-forward and like a good review platform until it’s not. Over the past few years, Yelp has come under fire due to some shady practices. Yelp, as a business, can also be rated, and you might be surprised to know that it has a 1-star rating average from users. Ouch.

There clearly must be something wrong with Yelp since users don’t show the same level of disdain for other review platforms. There are some solid reasons why businesses tend to dislike Yelp. Here are some of the most common:

Filters Out Positive Reviews

Even the FTC had to get involved in this. Yelp has been accused of not releasing businesses positive reviews (“not recommended” reviews) until they pay for advertising. Their problem is that if all your positive reviews are being held hostage, your average star rating takes a hit, which ignites a lot of anger from local businesses. The investigation was closed, though, and the results were never released. So what’s the truth? We can’t be sure.

Targets Positive Reviews More Than Negative Ones

Even if the previous claim is not real, local business owners do complain that this review platform’s biased filtering algorithm targets positive reviews 33.8% more than those that are negative, according to a study by Quantified.

Asking for Reviews is Off-Limits

It’s only natural that you want to ask happy customers to share a review of your business so that the rest of the world can learn about the great work you do, but Yelp doesn’t seem to agree. They explicitly forbid you from directly asking customers for a review. However, since they don’t own your relationship with your customers, you can still ask for a review, they are just not into it.

Not Very User-Friendly

Picture this. You are a consumer who just spent a good 10 minutes writing a review for your favorite business, then you submit it, and it disappears because it’s filtered out as “not recommended” by Yelp. Of course, that’s frustrating. Also, when searching for businesses, Yelp will show those businesses that pay for advertising at the very top, instead of sorting the results by rating.


With so many review platforms out there, it might be best to consider replacing Yelp for another option that will make things easier for your customers, and give you better results.