If there’s one absolute truth in life is that it is impossible to please everyone. Even the best of businesses will receive some bad reviews on Yelp from time to time. Businesses sometimes handle issues poorly and deserve getting called out. In other situations, however, bad Yelp reviews may feel totally undeserved. This is why you need to learn how to remove Yelp reviews if you can and deal with them suitably if you can’t.
What Should You Do If You Get a Negative Review on Yelp?
1. Avoid Giving an Immediate Response to the Yelp Review
It can be quite painful to have a Yelp user really paint your business in a bad light and your initial response might be something along the lines of obscenities, hair-pulling, and some ALL CAPS action. However, you won’t do you or your business any good by responding to one rant – in fact, it will only probably multiply the damage.
Instead of responding in a flurry of keystrokes, brew a cup of tea, take deep breaths, and get your mind of the negative Yelp review. You should not make any attempt to even think about it for at least 12 hours – it can be actually better to take 2 to 3 days to cool down first.
2. Analyze the Mindset of the Reviewer
The scathing Yelp reviews will not seem quite as searing after several days. Try reading the negative Yelp review with an objective mindset – does what the Yelper say actually make sense? Does the review appear to be emotional and worked up?
3. Decide whether to Make a Private or Public Response to the Yelp Review
A public response is obviously good for correcting discrepancies, but you should also consider whether or not the situation could be remedied using a discreet private message.
4. Address the Issues Raised by the Yelp Reviews in a Calm and Reasonable Manner
Yelp has a feature that lets business owners post their responses to bad reviews. The secret is to keep calm and take the high road. You should always remain respectful and polite. If you make the mistake of bypassing one step you are likely to end up responding to the bad reviews in an emotional and angry state that may lead to insults, name-calling, and emotional language that makes you look as unstable and terrible as the reviewer, or more so.
You are responding to the reviewer to discredit their assessment, after all. It might not take much to do this – Yelp readers are mostly reasonable and can easily identify a baseless and unreasonable rant if they come across one. If the negative review makes claims that you can argue against, do that objectively, using either the experiences of other customers or facts as a talking point.
For instance: “Gretchen, we are incredibly disappointed to learn that you did not enjoy our cheesecake. Other customers have stated that it is their favorite of our desserts but perhaps you caught us on an off day.”
If you believe that the reviewer is justified in their admonishment and their Yelp reviews on the business page, just offer an apology. Readers will appreciate the honesty and think better of you because of that.
If you respond in a cool and collected manner to a senseless Yelp review it will make you seem a lot more reasonable than an emotionally-charged reviewer and casts unfavorable light on them and online reviews as opposed to you.
5. Offer an Olive Branch
If you believe that there’s any possibility of remedying the situation, try offering a symbol of peace – send the displeased reviewer a private message offering them a free dessert or inviting them for a tour of the bakery.
Yelp also has an update function that can be used by reviewers to change the initial review. Everybody likes feeling important – feeding the ego of a disgruntled user can sometimes help to quell the fury and can lead them to reconsider their opinion of you – bad for your online reputation.
6. Take Advantage of Constructive Criticism
Always keep in mind that negative Yelp reviews are not necessarily a bad thing. If deserved and just, bad reviews serve as real feedback on the best way to improve the business. If reviewers raise legitimate concerns, you should work to get them addressed and later inform the Yelp community of the efforts you have made to improve. Customers really appreciate this since it shows that you listen and care about their concerns.
Tips for Spotting Fake Reviews on Yelp
Yelp has its own issues with fraud as is the case with other review platforms. The Yelp review filter hides anything that’s in violation of the content guidelines as laid out in the terms of service. Unfortunately, a lot of false Yelp reviews still slip through the cracks.
The average consumer cannot easily spot fake Yelp reviews on Yelp, but we can show you how to identify them. Watch out for the following red flags:
Disgruntled Former Employees
Former employees that were either fired or feel they were mistreated by their former employer are usually the source of dishonest Yelp reviews. Such statements are designed to slander your business as a form of revenge.
Competitors Leaving Yelp Reviews
It is a common occurrence across a wide variety of industries. Business competitors will usually create fake accounts or simply pay actual people to post bad reviews of your business online. Such fraudsters will often recommend a competitor while slamming your business.
Personal Enemies Leaving Yelp Reviews
Personal enemies may include your own enemies or those of your employees. Perhaps one of your sales associated recently broke up with his girlfriend. This may prompt her to post a negative review about him and your business. While this obviously doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, it often happens.
Customers may also make honest mistakes. A person may post a negative review on the wrong Yelp business page by accident. The review is still irrelevant even though it might not have been on purpose.
It is still important to respond appropriately, just as you should with any other negative review on the site. Even if it is a fabricated complaint, it is still important to apologize. You should then inform the user that you cannot find a record of his/her transaction. This is a great way to show the rest of the community that you are serious about providing great customer service. However, it will cast doubt on the authenticity of the fake Yelp review.
Is It Possible to Delete a Yelp Review?
It is almost impossible to delete a review on a Yelp business page, even if the review is considered misleading, extreme, or an outright lie. While Yelp allows business owners to flag reviews that do not meet their content guidelines, they don’t research reviews to determine their truthfulness and don’t mediate comments in case facts are in dispute.
It is worth noting that even though rare, reviews reported as fake or questionable can be removed if Yelp moderators are able to verify the claim.
The unfortunate reality is that there are numerous misconceptions surrounding the removal of an online review, paying Yelp to erase negative reviews from a business page,, or even deleting Yelp reviews for good. Most of this information is wrong. Yelp is protected by both the Communications Decency Act and the First Amendment, which means that they have little to no incentive to remove any negative customer reviews.
Yelp has also won several large lawsuits that relate to the removal of an online review, which proves that the law as it currently stands protects them. Yelp also doesn’t remove reviews for its advertisers, which means that purchasing ad space on the website will not be the door to monitoring or deleting Yelp reviews that could be hurting your business.
How to Remove Yelp Reviews from a Business Page,
If you want to get rod of a fake, negative, or otherwise harmful review from Yelp, there are 2 ways that you can do it. Both approaches might be difficult but are definitely worth your time.
Method 1: Ask Yelp to Take Down the Yelp Review
It is perhaps the most difficult task, but it is definitely worth trying in some situations. It works best if there are obviously incorrect or fake reviews of your business
Asking Yelp to remove a negative Yelp review can also be a good idea if the review in question uses profanity, a threatening tone, or it names specific employees or calls them out by their religion, race, body type, or any other sensitive or distinguishing characteristic.
If the review you would like taken down does not meet that criteria, don’t even bother asking Yelp or a similar review company to remove it.
To be honest, Yelp’s response even to threatening or fake reviews leaves a lot to be desired. The company seemingly has no interest in removing reviews it considers legitimate. While you can try to understand this from their perspective, it tends to makes things difficult for many businesses.
Yelp’s Terms of Service for Yelp Reviews(TOS)
You should first check Yelp’s Terms of Service before you approach the company about a review you believe to be fake or one that constitutes harassment. The TOS is full of legal jargon that’s seemingly designed to confuse business owners. Still, it can help you learn about your own rights.
The TOS are essentially a contract you imply your signature on whenever you use the services that Yelp offers, which is why you need to read and understand them thoroughly if you want to navigate the online review landscape successfully.
It can also be a wise decision to take a similar course of action when it comes to dealing with other review websites that you might be having issues with – smart review management
It is also worth noting that the TOS referred to above are exclusively for the United States. If you live in a different country, you should visit Yelp’s website directly, scroll to the bottom, and look for the link to the Terms of Service.
The TOS are relatively similar from region to region, but small distinctions in the documents exist and can be incredibly important when getting a review removed.
How Can You Address an Issue with Yelp Reviews?
Once you familiarize yourself with Yelp’s TOS, the next step should be to ensure that your message reaches them. Please note that the specific instructions provided here aren’t necessarily applicable to other review websites even though the general principles remain the same.
Yelp’s site has specific instructions that will tell you exactly what to do if you want to report a review to the company. The process essentially boils down to the following:
- Perform some review management and find the review you would like addressed.
- Click on the flag below the review, and then on “Report This Review.”
- Yelp is very frank that this review process can take up to several days and that they seldom remove Yelp reviews. The company also offers private individuals and business owners a second chance to report Yelp reviews on a business page,.
- If you report an an online review that you genuinely believe to be either false or otherwise against Yelp’s guidelines, you can contact the company’s support team directly after receiving a response regarding your initial complaint.
- It is definitely not the kind of action that you want to take all the time. If you do, it will probably lose its potency or Yelp might start taking support calls from you less seriously.
- If you have a genuine case, however, contacting support directly may be one of the fastest, most effective, and direct ways to solve the problem.
5 Instances Where Removing a Yelp Review is Justified
It is possible to get a Yelp review removed if you are able to prove that the undesirable review is “questionable” if you are able to show the Yelp team one of the following about the online reviews on the business page:
- They’re Fake Yelp Reviews: Just like how Google detects and removes fake reviews, Yelp too can dismiss any spam reviews (i.e. multiple reviews from the same IP address or content posted multiple times from different accounts), impersonations (i.e. representing someone else’s views as opposed to those of yourself), and conflicts of interest (i.e. reviewing your ow business).
- The Yelp Reviews are in Violation of Yelp’s Content Guidelines: Yelp prohibits promotional, inappropriate, irrelevant content, as well as violations of intellectual property and people’s privacy.
- The Yelp Reviews are “Not Recommended.” Yelp’s recommendation algorithm automatically filters out reviews on the basis of dozens of signals, which include unreliability, lack of quality, as well as questionable user activity. Yelp reports that about 25 percent of reviews aren’t recommended. They are simply filtered out without being displayed and won’t affect anything on your business’s profile.
- The Author Deletes the Yelp Reviews: Besides Yelp, the only other party besides that has the power to remove a review is the person that actually posted it. To remove a review on Yelp, the user simply logs in to their account, then opens their Reviews and selects the Yelp review targeted for removal, and finally clicks on “Remove” (i.e. Trash can icon).
- The Review Is Proven Defamatory After a Legal Process: Yelp has stated that if a fraudulent or questionable Yelp review isn’t removed by Yelp’s recommendation software or moderators, you or your attorney can obtain a final adjudication from a court of competent jurisdiction, which indicates that the review is actually defamatory, and then contact Yelp’s Support team. This is part of a smart review management process.
How to Flag and Remove Reviews That Violate Yelp’s TOS
If the Yelp review that you would like to remove fall under one of the criteria above, you may have a shot at getting it taken down. Here is a brief breakdown of what you need to do to flag and report a review. Keep in mind, however, that reporting it is no guarantee for the online review being taken down.
- Log in to your Yelp account.
- Find the review that you would like to report.
- On desktop, select the “Report review” button that looks like a flag.
- On mobile, the “Report review” function can be found in the “3 dot” menu.
Once you have reported the negative Yelp review, Yelp will come up with the most suitable decision based on its own content guidelines, which can take up to several days. Fortunately, Yelp will email you back regardless of their decision to either keep or get the review removed.
Method 2: Asking the Customer to Take Down the Review
You might be surprised to learn that asking the customer to take down the review is the more successful of the 2 methods.
Why? Because of several reasons. Firstly, Yelp is more customer focused than business focused. Perhaps even more importantly, Yelp is a massive company that requires you to first cut through miles of red tape before any action is taken.
When it comes to responding to negative reviews, there are numerous important guidelines. You can never remove a negative review through anger. Instead, you will end up just looking worse.
Steps to Convince a Customer to Take Down Yelp Reviews:
- Publicly respond to the review on Yelp.
- Be highly respectful in your response and thank the reviewer for their feedback.
- Never attempt to defend your business or yourself. Instead, offer your apologies.
- Ask the reviewer to get in touch with you if there is anything that you can do.
- If you made an honest mistake, you should consider offering an apology gift such as a discount.
- If the customer gets in touch with you, do your level best to prove to them that any problems, real or perceived, have been addressed.
- Once you talk with the customer, ask whether he/she will consider taking down the negative reviews or alter them to positive reviews.
It is important to ensure that you respond publicly and respectfully. Even if the unhappy customer never gets in touch with you, other Yelp users will see that you have a genuine concern for your customers.
It is also important to be honest about any mistakes on your end. You should not feel compelled to admit directly to anything that is not true, but try not to contradict the customer directly either.
If you don’t believe that the customer is willing to take down the review, here is how you should respond:
- Be Timely: Follow up with the customer within the shortest time possible to ensure that he/she does not completely write off your business and so that other potential customers don’t see that you have an unresolved issue.
- Address the Reviewer by Name: it is a great way to let your customers know that they actually matter to you.
- Mention something positive from the review: It is a great way to show the reviewer that you carefully read the review and will help address the issue so that it isn’t the very first thing potential customer notice when they read your response.
- Apologize for the things that went wrong. If need be, explain your organization’s policy regarding the issue at hand.
- Avoid picking fights: Always maintain professional conduct and avoid being argumentative with customers.
- Make the situation Right, If Appropriate: A warranted complaint deserves action, but ensure that the customer isn’t trying to blackmail you into getting an unjustified concession or refund. To address an actual concern, follow up with the customer, but do that in a private message or ask them to email you. Be sure to mention that you are resolving this offline in your public comment so that potential customers don’t read the review and assume that you simply ignored the issue.
- Explain what Transpired and How It Will Not Happen Again: It is a great way to show potential customers that you are taking preventative measures to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.
- Make it Clear What Steps You Took to Resolve the Issue: If you addressed the issue in person while the customer was at your place of business, but the reviewer failed to mention it online, address how you addressed the issue in your public reply to the Yelp review to let potential customers know that you actually followed through.
- Track Trends in Feedback: If you start noticing patterns in the negative reviews being received by your company, listen to the feedback and see whether there’s something that you can change in the business to create a better experience for customers.
- Avoid Taking Negative Reviews Personally. This is when it is advisable to have somebody that isn’t the owner to respond to Yelp reviews. Life can’t all be positive reviews.
What Not to Do When It Comes to Negative Yelp reviews
The first thing you should never do is freak out and leave an enraged and badly worded reply to the comment. This will increase the chances of the review not actually being removed.
Never think about Yelp or even Google that you will sue them or take them to court over a negative review. These are massive corporations. They practically live in court. Unless you have incredibly deep pockets, this should never cross your mind. It should now be part of the review management process
Don’t retaliate since it will probably only get you into more trouble.
Don’t get into a “flame war” with somebody on a review website. It will make both of you look unreasonable and unprofessional and it might even drive them to seek out additional review websites to further bad mouth your business.
Don’t track down the reviewer on other social media platforms to bad mouth them or their business. This can be categorized under retaliation, but just don’t do it.
Why Building Your Foundation Matters
In the age of hate websites, revenge porn, cyber-bullying, and online privacy laws that leave a lot to be desired, every business and everyone needs to understand and protect their image online using online reputation management and naturally sought positive reviews.
A Yelp review is obviously not the only source of information that people use when deciding whether to visit your business or not, but it is still highly visible and likely to inform their decision in some way. With that in mind, it is up to you to builds the image that accurately reflects your business online – this is why you need positive reviews.
Removing or deleting a bad Yelp reviews is tricky, but controlling how you look online is not. All you need to do is follow the steps or have somebody else to do it for you.
Protect Your Online Reputation Using a Positive Review
Having your friends, customers, relatives review your business will help to brace your accounts from a bad Yelp reviews but you must do it right.
If you want to get a positive review without having them all filtered, just follow the 5 easy steps below:
– Don’t use brand new accounts to review
– Don’t review from people in a different geographical area
– Don’t have everybody review at the same time
– Don’t review from people not close to the location of your business at the time of their review
– Have other people click on the Yelp reviews as “helpful.”
Hire a Professional to Remove a Bad Yelp Review
Even if you might be unable to either drown out or completely remove a Yelp-based smear campaign or a bad Yelp review on your own, there’s hope. Professional online reputation management and review management exist to help those with problems like this.
Online reputation management professionals have a few advantages that business owners don’t. Mainly this is due to their deep knowledge on how best to influence online reputations.
If you’re looking for help with a bad yelp review or want to preempt such an issue – get in touch.