Online customer reviews have become an increasingly crucial part of a small company’s reputation and marketing. But what if the best reviews never show up and the worst ones get featured prominently? Some business owners are finding that’s the case.
Sites like Yelp and Google Reviews collect and compile reviews from customers. These sites use automatic filters to try and weed out fake reviews. Some business owners are learning the hard way that these filters don’t always work—and it’s costing them their reputation.
Charley Dehoney, owner of Box Brothers, a southern California packing and shipping company, actively encouraged his customers to leave reviews on Yelp.com as a way to drum up positive word of mouth for his business. However, he’s discovered that flattering customer reviews often never appear on the site, while angry complaints show up at the top of the front page. “It was only when I became a business owner that I started to understand that Yelp can be a hindrance,” he told a local news station.
Problems with online review sites have been going on for a while, however. The Federal Trade Commission recently unveiled
more than 700 complaints against Yelp, suggesting that the company approaches businesses with bad reviews and encourages them buy advertising to boost their ratings. Yelp denies that claim.
But it’s not just Yelp that’s causing issues. Businesses have also encountered issues with the review filters used by Google+ Local, TripAdvisor.com, and others. (Angie’s List, an online subscription business review site, does not use such filters.)
So, why do genuine, positive reviews sometimes get filtered out? According to a post on LocalVox.com
, here are common reasons that online reviews get axed:
· The reviewer has never left a review before.
· The reviewer doesn’t have a profile set up on the review site.
· Words used in the review are overly positive or negative.
· The review is very short, lacking in detail.
· The IP address where the review is posted is far from the location of the business being reviewed.