Hidden Yelp Reviews: Where Do You Find Them, and Why Are They There?

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Did you know about your potential hidden Yelp reviews? You’re not alone! Check out this video where we look at a random Yelp page and uncover their hidden reviews and why they are there.

For your convenience, below is a transcript of this video.

Ross Taylor here, from Alameda Internet Marketing. In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at Yelp’s hidden reviews. A lot of people don’t know about this, a lot of businesses don’t know about the hidden reviews, and a lot of Yelp users don’t know about the hidden Yelp reviews. We’re going to take a look at that and see why reviews from your clients may potentially end up here and how we can potentially see them come out of that area into your standard review section on your Yelp Profile. Let’s take a look.

We are looking at Yelp here. Let’s just do a random search. I’m going to choose moving companies. Moving company, near San Francisco, CA. Let’s see what our results are. Our first two results are generally going to be advertisements, and those are denoted by the Ad icon next to their name. These guys are paying Yelp to get a shot at showing up at the top of the list. It’s important to note that paying Yelp does not guarantee you any difference in the amount of reviews that stick or prevent bad reviews or any of that kind of thing. The ads are all about positioning.  Further down, let’s just grab one of these. I’m just going to grab this one at random because they’ve got a huge amount of reviews here, 579 reviews. One Big Man & One Big Truck. I’ve never heard of them before, nothing to do with them, we’re just using that as an example. What happened there? All right, here we go.

Further down, let’s just grab one of these. I’m just going to grab this one at random because they’ve got a huge amount of reviews here, 579 reviews. One Big Man & One Big Truck. I’ve never heard of them before, nothing to do with them, we’re just using that as an example. What happened there? All right, here we go.

There’s their Yelp page. At the very top, you’re going to see their average of their reviews, it seems to be five stars. That’s a massive amount of reviews. That’s fantastic for them. You can click that little button there to get an overall rating. How many are one stars, how many are two, three, four, etc. So, most of the reviews are five stars giving them that nice five-star overall rating. What is frustrating for business owners is when you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you get this light gray text here that, unless someone told you it was here, you would never really think to look, especially on mobile, which is what most people look at Yelp on.

There’s 106 reviews that this company has generated, or sorry, that the clients of this company have created and spent their time on, and they’re not shown. If we click into that, what we get at the top here is a video where Yelp basically explains, hey, there’s an algorithm in place. It’s going to put reviews into the not recommended section based on their software, their proprietary secret software that decides this isn’t going to be a good review to show our customers.

To a business’ advantage, some of these are going to be negative reviews, but some of them are going to be really nice five-star reviews that, you know, it’d be great if you showed. When I click that link, there’s 106 not recommended, and it gave me three. I got to keep clicking here. While all the recommended reviews were on that first page, the not recommended, I had to click again to get more, and then I have to click each page here doing this, click next to get more, etc. etc.

We’re going to take a look at why these reviews end up here. If we took a look at this page, it becomes pretty clear what’s going on, what the common denominator here is. Number one, if you get a review from someone and they’ve never used Yelp before in their life and they decided for whatever reason, whether it’s been suggested by a friend or whatever, you should leave a review on Yelp. They go on Yelp and they leave that feedback. If they’ve never used Yelp in their life and they logged in just to leave a review for you and then they never come back again, not even to use it to look up a place to go get donuts or whatever. They just left this review for you and then took no more action on Yelp, it can potentially stick them in this section.

Other things that are going to stand out for Jill O. in this situation is that Jill O. has not uploaded a picture of herself. Generally, they’re going to like it better if you have an image of your face rather than something like this with these two kickboxers it looks like here. You’re going to be better off if it looks like a real person.

Next up, the person here has no friends. They probably have friends. Not saying they’re lonely, but they’re not connected on Yelp. They haven’t got friends on Yelp that they know. It’s not like Yelp’s a social network, so you wouldn’t expect anyone to have a ton of friends, but it can be a reason to count against you.

Next up, again, they’ve only got one review under their belt. They haven’t left any reviews anywhere else, so that’s another thing that could potentially trip it up. Then there’s other stuff. Nobody has access to the Yelp algorithm, nobody, except for the engineers at Yelp themselves. The sales people have no idea what’s going on in there, it’s just there. Other things that can trigger it can be phrases in the text. “The Best.” Always just, tons of exclamation points. Really just overly enthusiastic without a lot of detail, it can sometimes seem like it was a shill or somebody wrote this review for them and Yelp will then look at that and say, maybe this just doesn’t seem quite natural. “Absolutely recommend them.” “The best ever.”

All those kind of phrases. When it’s written naturally, your reviews are generally a bit longer. There’s going to be reasons. There’s typically going to be reasons why they didn’t have the best experience. There were some things that were just a little bit lacking, or whatever, but always say, “Yes, the best.”, “The best in the world. I was in awe about how good these movers are.” It’s just movers right? That’s something as well that can trip it. It’s really hard to define that. I wouldn’t stress over those things, but do know that reviews can hit the filter because of this.

The thing is the filter is dynamic, it is not static. That means that when someone hits the review filter or the not recommended section, it doesn’t mean that review is going to be in there forever. It can jump in and out. For instance, my own Yelp page for my office in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have two Yelp pages. I have one in San Francisco, I have one in Dallas. My one in San Francisco, about a year ago, only three of my 16 or so reviews were showing Live because the rest were filtered for whatever reason. Today, only one of my 16 is not filtered. That is simply beyond my control.

There’s things we can do to potentially help that. We know that this review could potentially go into the real reviews if Jill O. was to perhaps to log back into Yelp, and let’s say she checked in somewhere. If she checked in in San Francisco, that’s going to be better. If she checks into a coffee shop in Tennessee, that’s not nearly as good because she’s leaving a review for a San Francisco business, and it’s going to be more natural if she’s left that review in the area where she does that check in in the area where she’s left previous reviews.

If she was to leave reviews for other businesses in the San Francisco area, that would be a good thing for her. If she was to, to get out of the filter, if she was to add friends, throw in a profile, add an image, and the Yelp profile has a bunch of things you can fill in, like what’s my favorite this? What neighborhood do I like the best? What’s my favorite website? If she was to fill in all the information, it’s going to make her look more like a real person. Yes, believe it or not, people do leave fake reviews on Yelp, and that’s why this exists, to prevent that.

Another thing that can be a problem for a review to get jammed in this section here is going to be when it just doesn’t maybe seem so natural that so many reviews came all in one shot. If I look here, there’s a review from this David, Gary, Fate and Jill, and they all left a review on March 14, 2017. They’re all five stars, and it’s not that typical to get that many reviews in a single day. Even if you’re a really high volume business. Maybe if you’re a restaurant and you had a big promo or a big event going on or something like that, sure, but for a moving company, to perhaps get four reviews in one day, it just doesn’t quite sound natural. That could be a sign, potentially. Again, I’m not saying that this moving company, I have nothing to do with them. I’m not saying they’re playing shenanigans in any way, but potentially, they are, somebody could be making these reviews happen, or it just maybe looks like that.

According to the guidelines at Yelp, you are not supposed to even whisper to your client, go on Yelp and leave a review. You’re not supposed to ask this. Their Terms of Service were updated very recently as well and it’s just crystal clear, don’t ask for Yelp reviews. If anything looks slightly like you may have run some sort of campaign to generate Yelp reviews for your business, this could be a sign of that, and they may filter those reviews.

Likewise, there are others near that date on the 12th, another four on the 12th, which again, not only is that unusual but, it’s just an unusual as being stuck next to these four. Two days later, another four. Again, these are all people in San Francisco with five-star review, and hands down, best company, best, best, best, and no friends and no other reviews. That is maybe perhaps a reason why these reviews could get filtered.

That’s not a hard and fast rule either. Look at this one, here’s Gretchen. She’s left five reviews for other businesses, but perhaps maybe Gretchen left all those five other reviews on the same day. Who knows? Let’s say she left a bunch of reviews with the same day or even the same week, or what if these other reviews were for businesses in other destinations, other geographic areas? That could get you. Then you get these reviews down at the bottom, I want to mention these real quick. These are reviews that have been removed for violating Terms of Service. I often see these being one stars reviews. I got hit with a couple of these myself on my Yelp page. Yelp caught them and removed them for some reason. Potentially these could be competitors, or somebody just trying to mess around or they were just very clear to Yelp that these were just not cool. Unfortunately, we can’t see what they said, but there you go. They have violated the Terms of Service and they’re out.

If you had an opportunity, if you knew any of your customers, if I was this moving company and I happened to know Mike B., let’s say he moved back in March and he did the job. If you followed up with him for whatever reason as part of your regular business and just nurturing your clients, looking after them kind of thing, maybe mention to Mike, your review on Yelp didn’t stick. Maybe tell him, potentially why. You’re not a Yelper, because you don’t leave reviews on Yelp. That’s just something to think about Mike. Maybe say something like that.

Again, you don’t want to tell people to leave reviews on Yelp for your business or anyone else. Just don’t do it. There you go, that’s the filter. Other reasons why reviews can end up in the filter would be let’s say you’ve got, someone’s in your office and they’re on your WiFi. While they’re in your office, they leave a review for your business. Meanwhile, now they’re in your office using the same internet IP address that you used when you log into your business Yelp account, that can maybe seem kind of suspicious. Or let’s say when you do leave the review, let’s say you’re away on vacation.

You’re in Tennessee and you’re at a bar. It’s always Tennessee again for some reason. You’re in Tennessee, you’re in a bar, you had a great time and you didn’t think to leave the review that night. Two weeks later, you’re back home in San Francisco and you think, I’m going to leave that review. Now you’re leaving a review from a completely different area, and it may trigger that. Yelp, it’s an algorithm. There’s nobody sitting here pouring through every single review to make sure it’s good, or make sure that it seems right. There’s going to be a score, I would assume, that every single review is going to get based on all these myriad factors that decide what gets through.

What we learned today is there is a Yelp filter, or a non-recommended area where potentially hundreds of your business’ review could be hiding, why they go into the non-recommended or filtered area, and some of the ways that they could potentially come out. If you were to check this same business maybe a few weeks from now, you may see a different number. You may see only 98 reviews for One Big Man & One Big Truck in the not recommended section. Who knows? If some of these people came back and they started getting real active on Yelp, that could potentially happen.

That is it in a nutshell. The not recommended section, what it is, where it is and why reviews go there. Again, some of the ways they can come out are if those Yelpers ended up getting active.

All right. That’s that. Thanks very much for watching this video. If you have any other questions about Yelp or anything like that or anything to do with local marketing, please feel free to give us a should. Our website is AlamedaIM.com. We have offices in California in the East Bay area and in the Dallas, Fort Worth area in Frisco, Texas and we’re always happy to help.

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