Is Yelp being used?  During the last quarter of 2012, the average number of unique visitors to the site was 86 million. (

Is Yelp perceived to be a trusted source for consumers to find accurate reviews on restaurants, hotels, bakeries, and other retail establishments?  Many people rely on Yelp; it’s more popular in urban areas.

Do business owners like Yelp?  Yes and No.  Yelp’s aggressive sales tactics and most recently, vague practices in “filtering” are creating some concern. Business owners wonder why good reviews are being filtered while questionable reviews remain. The algorithm used to filter and sort the order of reviews is not specifically revealed in Yelp’s Terms of Use.

Are there guidelines for reviewer conduct?  Yes and No.  Here are a few excerpts from the Yelp General Guidelines (  In a review you may use “colorful language and imagery…but there’s no need for threats harassment, lewdness, hate speech or other displays of bigotry.  We are big believers in freedom of speech, but beware the legal consequences if you post false information.”

Do reviews ever get removed?  Yelp says sometimes.  Industry says no.  According to Yelp, “Our support team may remove a review if it violates our Terms of Service or Content Guidelines” (see above).

What if your business gets a negative review?  In social media management, the Agency always recommends responding to negative feedback, viewing it as an opportunity to resolve problems quickly.  Yelp may be the exception.

Important to know about Yelp; if you respond to a negative comment, you actually draw more attention to it.  The more activity on your Yelp account, the more it moves up in search engines.

What options do you have if you feel there’s an unfair or fabricated business review on your Yelp page?

  • Engage.  Be prepared to dedicate staff hours monitoring, responding and managing another social media site.  Understand that you still have no control over craziness and the team at Yelp would prefer to err on the side of freedom of speech –- they place the risk of defamation action with the individual reviewer.  (Note:  you can flag the review if you’re a registered Yelp user.  This places it on the list for review for filtering.)
  • Ignore it.  Yelp is a place where people review cupcakes, movie theaters, corn dogs and ice cream parlors.  Most consumers can read a review with their own filter.
  • Wait it out.  Legal precedence is being set now.  Dietz v Perez is a case involving a Yelp review posted by an angry woman about the service (or lack thereof) from her general contractor.  Initially, it appears the courts ruled that the review needed to be toned down prior to the online defamation trial.  That ruling was overturned last month when the ACLU appealed.

What do you think about Yelp?