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VIDEO: Yelp is Killing Today’s Referral


Welcome, my beloved students, to WebPunch’s School of Online Reputation Management. I am your professor, as always, Matt Jones, here to drop some knowledge about the latest in online reputation management. Let’s get into a few things here. Number one, where the heck have we been? That’s a good question. We haven’t done a video in quite some time, and a lot of you probably never even noticed. But we’ve been traveling all over the world, traveling our guts out. And speaking of guts, I haven’t been to the gym for a few months, and so we’re not looking good over here, but we will get to that. My new year has started off in a good way but just not in that regard, so that’s a little sad. The other thing is, what the heck is wrong with my fingers? And that is a legitimate question. You can see there’s some damage and I don’t want to talk about it. It’s a little bit of a sensitive subject, but let’s just say you shouldn’t fly your drone inside your house. Those propellers are sharp.


Let’s talk about Yelp. Yelp made a big change and said, “Hey, businesses, you can’t ask your customers for reviews. No more solicitation. And guess what? If we find out that you are asking your customers for reviews, we’re going to do two things about it. We’re going to lower your ranking on a Yelp search and we’re going to put a consumer alert badge on your listing that warns customers not to really trust your reviews.” Those are really bad things, and it’s kind of funny because Yelp asks for reviews itself. Whenever you make an appointment with Yelp or if they track you (if you allow them to track you), they’ll say, “Hey, how was your experience with such and such business? You should give them review and write about it.” So it’s a little bit of a contradictory thing for us that they’re taking this stance.

One of the backbones of their stance comes from a Northwestern University study. And it’s funny because a lot of times people, when they are making an argument, a lot of times our politicians do this, too, they only take a snippet of the study to bolster their argument, but they don’t actually give you the whole study. So I actually read what the Northwestern University study said, and this is what it said. It said that people naturally have a negative bias when they write reviews, and we know that. When someone has not performed well, or performed really poorly, you feel like, hey, it’s your way to get out there and ding them and show everyone what they really are made of. But they said that companies…this is the funny thing about the whole thing, is they concluded that businesses should solicit their customers to offset that natural negative bias. Okay. So that’s true. Yelp read it. They just didn’t include the whole thing. So it’s kind of interesting to us that that’s the case, and it makes sense from our experience. We’ll talk a little bit more about that.

But some businesses get a lot of reviews organically. In the hospitality industry, it’s very common for them to get a lot of reviews. They don’t have to solicit. You went out and you had this amazing meal, and you’re taking pictures and showing everyone your elaborate vegan meatloaf with mushroom gravy, and you want to show how sexy it is and that’s your lifestyle. We get it. You’re really motivated to leave a review for that business. But let’s say a lot of service-based companies who…let’s say your toilet is broken and you need a plumber to come out and fix it. Well, if he came out, did his job, fixed your toilet and left, your motivation for giving him a positive review isn’t going to be that high. But if he did a terrible job, then your motivation is pretty high to go out there and say, “This guy robbed me. He did a terrible job. There’s crap everywhere, etc.” So service-based companies have to ask for reviews in order to offset that negative bias, which goes in line with the Northwestern University sudy that said, “Hey, you should ask for reviews.”

That’s one thing to consider. If you are a service-based company, that’s going to be a really difficult thing for you to not be able to ask for reviews from your clients because, again, the motivation isn’t there when they’ve had a good experience. I think this is a tough thing because everyone loses. Yelp doesn’t get the content that they used to get because people just aren’t going to give them as many reviews. And then also, again, those companies who don’t naturally get as many reviews on their own, that’s going to be a difficult thing for them as well.

The good news is, there is a way to fight that, and we think the best way to fight it is to get reviews on a lot of different sites. So when someone does a search for you, we want to show them that you have great reviews on a lot of different review sites that may not include Yelp. But if they can see that a lot of other users have posted great things about you on Facebook, Yellow Pages, House, Glassdoor, etc., then that’s going to make you look good and solid, and people will just kind of think, “Oh, well.” about Yelp.

We think that’s the way to combat it. It’s unfortunate that Yelp hasn’t really gotten the big picture of what this whole thing is. We think they are obviously a valuable player and they are number three for a reason. But, again, it’s unfortunate that they haven’t taken a stance that’s more pro-business. I’m Matt Jones, and we’ll catch you next time.


Matt Jones

Matt Jones is a co-founder of WebPunch. When he’s not WebPunching, he is exploring the world, taking photos, creating edible art or making gains in the gym. The main love and joy of his life though, is his little boy Mac, who is his best friend.