As a small business, making sure that your company has a positive image to the public can make or break your company. That is why Yelp and Google are both a huge part of making sure that people can decide to do business with you depending on what others say about your company. However, each of these companies seems to approach how they do this quite differently. Lets start with Yelp.
Would you be surprised to learn that 25% or more of Yelp reviews are fake? I know as a small company that this number seemed huge to me. Yelp has confirmed that they estimate that 25% or more reviews submitted to the platform are not genuine reviews. (Source) When you read this statistic, it quickly becomes frightening on whether you can trust what you read online.
Our company, a house cleaning and maid service in Rockwall started in May of 2018. By July we had received a total of 5 reviews. We were happy to show a perfect rating on Yelp. It was at this time, we were contacted to advertise on Yelp and offered a $300 credit to do so. Free advertisement sounded great, and soon we had a small ad running to try and share our company with others on Yelp.
The Roller Coaster of Yelp
After about a month, we reviewed our data and found that not one customer had booked from Yelp. We decided to discontinue paying Yelp at the end of August. Strangely, shortly thereafter in September or early October, Yelp decided to ‘change it’s algorithm’ as to how Filtered Reviews work. For those of you reading, a filtered review is a review that Yelp, by some unknown algorithm, decides to completely hide a review. This is apparently their attempt to remove fake or unhelpful reviews, and causes the review to not factor into the companies overall rating.
Complete Maid actually has 1 review that is is unsure whether it is genuine or not by (Pam S.) as the name is not an exact match to our records. However, during this time, ALL of our reviews disappeared! It was heartbreaking to see all the hard work we had put in and that had resulted in 5 reviews simply vanish. They claim it has nothing to do with advertising with them, however you will find many companies who suddenly lose dozens of positive reviews when they end their advertising with the platform.
A month into this change, we received our first negative review. The review was one sided, and we shared our side of the story in our reply. In fact, we actually did not do business with the person who left the review! This became our ONLY review that was not filtered. It damaged our reputation on Yelp tremendously. Since then, we have received several more reviews, all 5 stars, and yet they always seem to be filtered within days of being posted. There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to what causes this. Lets take a look at some of these reviews.
This is our only 1 star review. It comes from someone who created a Yelp account on 1/2/2019 (the date they posted a review of our company), they have only 2 reviews, and they are from a city outside of Rockwall. This review currently IS NOT FILTERED.
This is a 5 star review. It comes from someone who has been on Yelp for 2 years, has 3 reviews, and has connected with other people on Yelp. This review is currently FILTERED.
And here, we have a review from someone who has 30+ reviews (mostly from the Rockwall area), dozens of friends (several who are Elite Yelpers), and is located in Rockwall. This review is currently FILTERED.
As you can see, Yelp has the power to push whatever company it wants (most likely the ones that pay for advertising) to appear as 5-star companies. Complete Maid has (as of 3/5/19) 12 reviews, and of those 11 are 5 star reviews. Unfortunately, Yelp has us listed as a 1 star company. Our only review that appears is literally our only 1 star review. Isn’t it odd that Yelp can essentially CHOOSE what star rating they will give you, and they also ask you to PAY THEM? I’m sure there are no ulterior motives to how some reviews are filtered while others are not.
Google: More Money, Better System
Lets face it. If you know anything about the internet (I hope you do since you are reading this), you know Google is the biggest, best, and often first company to do almost anything online. It’s not surprising that they have their own review system that is directly linked to search results, map results, and several dozen apps that we use every day (Uber Eats, Grub Hub, Waze to name a few). They also have an algorithm they use to make sure businesses are not inundated with fake reviews. I imagine that Google is light years ahead of Yelp on how to make sure that reviews are legitimate and not being filtered, unless they are truly fake. They have the means to track IP addresses, devices that the reviews are posted from, AI to recognize speech patterns, GPS to make sure you actually visited the company…the list goes on and on. Somehow, on this much better, more advanced, and simply easier to figure out system, Complete Maid ranks as nearly a perfectly rated house cleaning and maid company in Rockwall, TX.
They don’t have a system that is tied to reviews for advertising. They realize there is no reason to connect advertising on their platform (which is several times larger than Yelps customer base), to what a companies reviews look like. In fact, Google makes it much easier to review on their system than Yelp, and has validation to make sure someone isn’t creating fake accounts to do so.
Check out some of our filtered Yelp reviews here.
But Wait! There’s More…
We get it. You can’t trust everything you read on the internet. That includes an article that was written by a company that currently feels that they are be extorted for money. That’s why we have done all the leg work for you, and are proud to present to you a list of sources for all of the information you read above. Feel free to take a look at these and interpret them however you would like. We encourage you to do your own research as well! Our belief is that Yelp, although it claims otherwise (and yet offers no proof), has incentive to hide some reviews while spotlighting others on the platform they provide.
The Washington Post has a nice video here that talks about how strange it is that a company won’t share it’s algorithm to be verified as non-bias yet continues to accept money from the very businesses it rates with this algorithm.