What's the Problem with Yelp?
With Google trimming the fat on spinning SEO tactics, there are major outlets still using troublesome tactics. Take Yelp, for example. This online review medium seems to have little faith in the marketplace these days.
What's the problem with Yelp? One, there's really nothing you can do when your company gets a bad review. Business owners can comment once on the review. That's it. And the damage is done. With the social currency of Yelp high, your ratings are directly affected by even just one bad review.
Second, Yelp chooses which reviews to filter. Your business might have 117 logged reviews on the site. Only 19 of them show up and Yelp picks them, leaving you to wonder how they reached the decision.
Third, Yelp chooses reviews based on one thing alone: businesses who advertise with them. Yep. You heard me right. If you've invested in Yelp advertising, the snippet of reviews will be favorable 4 and 5 star ratings. The best of the best. If you haven't caved to the cause, visible reviews are more in the 1-to-3-star range.
For a company that had the potential to boost 5-9% higher traffic, Yelp's review system is really creating the good, the bad, and the ugly. Given that users looking for a quick solution probably skim businesses with sub-4 ratings, Yelp reviews can control which businesses bloom or wilt. Lawsuits based on false reviews are suing for as much as $750,000 in damages from lost business. But they aren't suing Yelp. They're suing the reviewer.
Yelp can work. If you play your cards right, you can boost business, have your 5-star rating, and eat your cake too. The downside is that local and small businesses (once Yelp's target audience) are demolished by just a few bad reviews. With safer local listing editing and SMM tactics available, why Yelp at all?
Yelp can (and should) be a helpful tool rather than an online cheap car salesman. Judge Peter Doft of San Diego said Yelp is like "the modern day version of the Mafia going to stores and saying 'You wanna not be bothered ... you wanna not have incidents in your store? Pay us protection money'."
Online mafia or cheap car salesman, Yelpers have a real problem with sharing in a world where "share" is a good thing.
Follow Christi Tasker on Twitter