Yelp uses filters to try to combat fake reviews, both positive and negative. Great idea in theory, but not in practice. They filter out so many real positive reviews, that it invalidates the website as a true review site.
Case in point: I reviewed two sites.
I wrote to Yelp, as I didn’t want to let this go. These businesses deserved good reviews. I received a form letter.
Thanks for contacting us with your concerns. We use automated filtering software to showcase the most helpful and reliable reviews among the millions that are submitted to the site, but even some legitimate reviews don’t make the cut. It sounds like that might be the case here. We do not have the ability to restore filtered reviews. Keep in mind, however, that the review filter applies the same rules to every business and continually revisits each review to reevaluate its determination. -The Yelp Support Team
Terrible answer. They are hurting businesses by filtering real positive reviews. Then there are some negative ones which are obviously fake and they slip by. The algorithm is way off. What is worse is you have companies offering to get you positive reviews and help manage your reputation online. These seem to violate the spirit of Yelp, but again they slip through.
Yelp is a website that could be great. But they need to figure out the filters if it is to survive. Perhaps make people validate their review, having to give names, addresses and phone numbers. (not to be shown, just so that people will think twice giving fake, or worse slanderous reviews)
I still think you are better off spending your time with testimonials on your own site. Even Yelp’s canned emails to businesses who ask for reviews to be unfiltered, say the same thing:
If there are certain customer reviews that you want to showcase, feel free to ask your customers if you can add their testimonials to your own website.
So don’t stress over Yelp. As a business owner, log on and answer critics, being as helpful and friendly as possible. People will see a bad review every once in a while as normal, and that if the majority are good, you will be fine. Remember: Unfortunately people are quick to rip you for an off day, but not always as vehement to write positive reviews. This is just human nature and not just related to Yelp.
Closing Thoughts: Hopefully Yelp will eventually get the filters right and your glowing reviews will be front and center. Until then, fight the good fight, answer bad reviews, and encourage clients/customers to send you testimonials for your own website.