Is Yelp Implementing Stricter Measures for Reviews and New Accounts?

Yelp is one of the most trusted and popular social networking sites that focus on business reviews and sharing customer feedback. Established in San Francisco, California back in 2004, the website can be likened to an online bulletin board made up of user experiences and personal reviews about local businesses.The site basically gives its users the liberty to do whatever they like as far as business reviews and communication are concerned. Users can provide ratings and post their reviews on companies and businesses that provided them services or products. There are massive online communities across the United States, but they have expanded to other countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

While its review filter algorithm remains largely confidential, there is a study that is suggesting that it is possible that there are some factors that could affect the site’s filter, particularly about the reviewer and the business being reviewed.

In a working paper by Georgios Zervas and Michael Luca entitled, “Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud,” they found out that Yelp’s dedicated review filter had hidden an alarming 16 percent of all the 316,000 reviews that they have based on for the study. The study involved restaurants in Boston, New York, covering over 3,600 business enterprises.

From their findings, it appears that the filtered reviews all have something in common, which were related to to the kind of review who wrote it.

The Best and Worst Reviews Get Filtered More

What Zervas and Luca discovered is that extreme reviews are what make up the list of filtered reviews. Published reviews are more neutral compared to those that have been filtered by Yelp’s algorithm. It seems that those reviews with one- and five-star ratings have a three percent chance of getting filtered than three-star reviews.

Another discovery is that filtered reviews are usually shorter in length as compared to those that have been published for consumers to see.

Reviewers with Few or Single Post are Likely to Get Their Reviews Filtered

There is a strong likelihood of having a review filtered if the reviewer has one or few reviews in the past. If you have built a reputation of posting many reviews, then there is little to no reason for getting your review filtered by Yelp.

Users with no profile photo are 41 percent more at risk for a filtered review than those who have an image to their name.

Building Your Reputation is the Key to Getting Published

This is the downside of Yelp, because small businesses that ask their customers to post an honest review on the site are likely to get their review filtered if they are new to the site. It takes away the essence of posting customer reviews, because not all customers spend time posting reviews on Yelp. This is also makes it easy for fake reviews to get published because you can pay someone to build their reputation and post biased reviews for a business they are working for.