Yelp Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Are you aware that just one negative online review can make you lose up to 25% of potential customers, while positive comments and reviews can increase sales by at least 18%?

Yelp logo with arrow pointing to the words Yelp reviews crackdown

This is why it's crucial to manage your business's online reputation, especially on Yelp, which has over 244 million reviews in 2021. However, with Yelp cracking down on review solicitation, it's important to know how to protect your business reputation. Read on to discover tips for managing your Yelp reviews and safeguarding your online reputation.

What's Good about Yelp?

Yelp is an online platform founded in 2004. It is an online business directory that publishes crowd-sourced reviews posted by consumers about local businesses, and as of the last quarter in 2017, it had over 148 million reviews, also known as Yelp Reviews.

Yelp connects prospective customers with great local businesses, such as dentist offices, beauty salons, etc. It uses Yelp's automated software to recommend the most reliable business based on helpful reviews posted by members of the Yelp community.

Businesses can sign up for a free Yelp account and set up a page where you can post about your services, as well as message prospective customers. Prospective customers can find you on Yelp, contact you, and then post a review after service delivery. These Yelp reviews are utilized to rate your business and inform prospective customers on the quality of the your service.

Is Yelp's Crackdown Bad?

As one of the top online review sites, Yelp strives to ensure that the reviews on its website are real and objective. Therefore, in its guidelines, it encourages consumers to only post unbiased, object review.

People should not review their own businesses, as well as their friends’, relatives, or competitors business. The guideline also states that businesses should not encourage customers to post reviews.

Yelp is always cracking down on review solicitation because it believes solicited Yelp reviews are biased. This action is being justified by Yelp with a study published in 2016 at Northwestern University.

Yelp introduction of this new set of rules to crack down on review solicitation prevents you from asking for reviews from satisfied customers in any way. A section of its guidelines, titled “Don’t Ask For Reviews” from Yelp website is summarized below

  1. “Don’t ask customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.”
  2. “Do not ask your staff to compete to collect reviews.”
  3. “Don’t run surveys that ask for reviews from customers reporting positive experiences.”
  4. “Do not ever offer freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews — it will turn off savvy consumers, and may also be illegal.”

The Ugly Side of Yelp Reviews

Yelp’s recommendation software analyzes each posted review for several factors such as quality, reliability, and user activity. The software includes only what it believes to be the most reliable and accurate reviews to the rating system, while other reviews go into a section tagged, “not recommended reviews.”

It excludes reviews from inactive users, solicited reviews, and reviews thought to be written by the business owners. Although these reviews can be viewed by prospective customers, they are not included in the rating posted for your business.

With its recent Don’t Ask Rule, Yelp can impose several penalties which can hurt your business, if it finds out that you are soliciting for Yelp reviews. It can impose a search ranking penalty on your business, such that your business would appear lower in ranking when consumers search for the services you offer.

A consumer alert can also be imposed on your Yelp page, which is a warning message that pops over your review section, stating you manipulated the reviews and providing evidence that proves it.

Considering the fact that disgruntled customers are more likely to leave a review voluntarily, yelps policy on review solicitation is tough and may hurt your business reputation. Biased negative Yelp reviews cause your businesses to have a bad reputation online, and can only be offset by positive reviews from happy customers.

Some of these customers might not be active on Yelp, nor self-motivated to leave a review. Thus, Yelp’s Don’t Ask policy and other factors for reviews posting put your business in an challenging situation. When you follow the rule, you risk losing business due to biased negative reviews, and when you don’t, you risk severe penalties.

How to Protect Your Business

It is important that you protect your online reputation, as 98% of consumers used the internet to find information about local businesses in 2022, up from 90% in 2019. So a great online reputation can help convert more prospects to customers.

Just one negative online review can cause you to lose up to a quarter of your prospective customers. Whereas, according to one study, one review can result in a 10% increase in sales and 200 reviews can results in as much as a 44% increase in sales.

Thus, you should manage your online reputation, including your Yelp reputation, so it doesn’t harm your business. Here are some tips that can help.

  • Strive to deliver quality customer service and provide an excellent experience for your customers.
  • Engage with customers who leave negative reviews. Convince them to give you the opportunity to change their experience to a positive one. A business that goes out of its way to help customers will surely see positive reviews in response.
  • Display Yelp Signage on your business premises, as well as Yelp button on your website. This will let customers know that you are on Yelp, and encourage active members of the Yelp community to leave a review without asking.
  • Invest in a reputation management software, such as Review Dingo, that keeps up with the algorithm updates of all review sites, and creates a balanced strategy for you to get more positive reviews on Yelp and other websites without hurting your business.


Yelp's enforcement of their review guidelines has made it more important than ever for businesses to manage their online reputation effectively. Fortunately, Review Dingo offers a range of review management features that can help businesses protect themselves from the negative impact of Yelp reviews. 

By using Review Dingo, you can ensure that your business is well-represented on Yelp, and that any negative reviews are addressed promptly and professionally. So why wait? Contact us today to learn more about our review management services and start taking control of your online reputation!


Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by Allen

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