This is a guest post from Joe Hackman.
What Yelp continues to fail to understand is that many small businesses and self-employed professionals don’t have a massive amount of customers. To put it bluntly, if we did not ask our customers to review us, there probably wouldn’t be any reviews, and we think that is a shame because we’ve worked hard to build up our reputation. The message went on to talk about one of the more frustrating aspects of Yelp:
“Another reason to avoid asking for reviews: solicited reviews may get filtered, and that will drive you crazy.”
This is Yelp’s story and they are sticking to it. Every time I’ve gotten a call from their sales reps I complain about the fact that the limited reviews from legitimate customers that I have received over the years ALWAYS seem to get filtered. Instead, it seems you need to fall under some key criteria:
- Pay to play (advertise on Yelp).
- Drive a lot of traffic to their site (read: have a lot of customers that are more Business-to-Consumer oriented).
- Get reviewed by people contributing frequently to Yelp (their reviews don’t seem to get pulled).
It is easy to conclude that Yelp does not really want you. I think the real answer is to focus on Yahoo Local, Google Places and LinkedIn recommendations. At least none of them are calling me asking for money, yanking legitimate reviews or otherwise gaming me to try to get me to do things “their way”.
Yelp has a bit of a rocky past – a lot of business owners have felt extorted by the tactics Yelp has used to try to encourage advertising. I know I get a bad feeling every time they solicit me. I bring up the issue of the positive reviews being removed and they do their dance, then call me back again in a few months. The whole thing seems like a classroom full of kindergarteners in charge of a candy store.
What do you think? Have you experienced similar frustrations with Yelp?