Don’t Yelp When it Comes to Yelp

Some people love Yelp. Others not so much. But this business rating/review site isn’t going anywhere, so it pays to know some of its ins and outs. As with other review sites such as RealSelf and Healthgrades, practices need to pay attention to what’s going on with their Yelp page, keeping photos and all practice information up to date and responding to reviews. But there are some other aspects of Yelp that can help turn it into an asset for your practice.

What’s up with the Yelp Filter?

You may not even know about this, but if you look at reviews on Yelp down at the bottom, you’ll see a line in gray type, “36 other reviews that are not currently recommended.” Residing down in that netherworld are reviews that Yelp has not recommended for viewing and that do not affect the practice rating. Unfortunately, some of these reviews may be 5-star reviews, which you wish counted in your overall rating. But also there will be some ranting 1-star reviews.

Yelp uses its “recommendation software” to evaluate reviews and then post them or demote them off the page. Every submitted review runs through this software, which judges it on quality, reliability, and user activity on Yelp. The recommendation software wants to be sure the review is legit and has been submitted by a reviewer Yelp trusts and knows something about. For instance, the software is leery of different reviews for the same business that come from the same computer, smelling a fake review.

The software likes reviews that come from active Yelpers. It often relegates reviews to the filter if they come from reviewers who have made just a handful of reviews and had few friends on the site.

It would be nice if you saw a review of your practice in the filter and wanted it to be reviewed or some similar action, but you can’t do that. Yelp’s guidelines say, “It’s also important to note that because our recommendation software is automated, the Yelp Support team cannot manually override the software to recommend or not recommend a review.’

But all is not lost. Let’s say a “not recommended” review is from one of your patients who was ecstatic with her procedure and your practice. But her 5-star review got filtered. You can reach out to the patient and tell her you to appreciate her nice review, but that it is hidden and can’t affect your overall rating because she isn’t active on Yelp. If she posts other reviews and accumulates more friends, the software may change its mind and recommend the review. Also, practice staff can add the reviewer as a friend and mark her reviews as “Useful” and “Cool.”

You can flag a review

In the, hopefully, rare case of the practice receiving a bad review, you don’t necessarily have to grin and bear it. First, check if the review violates Yelp’s Content Guidelines. This list gives reasons for reporting a review such as “It was posted by a competitor or ex-employee,” or “It contains false information.”

Once you think you spot a violation of their guidelines, it’s helpful to quote the part of the guidelines the review violates when you flag the review and request its removal. For this, it pays to thoroughly read and understand the Yelp Content Guidelines.

If you’ve proven your case, you’ll receive an email from Yelp in a few days saying they will remove the review.

Become familiar with Yelp

As with any potential adversary (and many practices think of Yelp this way), it pays to understand Yelp. Many doctors complain about Yelp but don’t use it themselves. It’s good to create a profile and become an active Yelp user. Once you start using Yelp and leaving honest reviews about businesses you’ve patronized, then you’ll have a different perspective on the customer experience. This new perspective could clue you into little things you can change with your practice to help your reviews become even more positive.

There’s no reason to fear Yelp. Now that you understand why some reviews fall into the gray “not recommended” area and how you can flag and contest a bad review, you should feel more confident about the review site. Plus, once you set up a profile and become an active Yelp user, you may just learn some new insights into shortcomings of your practice that you can then address.

As with all review sites, Yelp is part of the dashboard we provide to our Advice Media practices, making it easy for you to manage your profiles and respond to reviews. If you have any questions about Yelp, contact your Advice Media Representative.

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