Yelp filters do not workOctober 13th, 2013

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.

  1. I reviewed an insurance agent:  An insurance agent saved me 20% on a policy with better coverage. Naturally I gave him a glowing review.
    Result:  Filtered
  2. I reviewed a health and wellness center.  I went to a health and wellness center where in 2 months I lost 27 pounds.  My blood pressure was high as was my glucose. After 2 months my BP and Glucose is perfect.  Naturally I gave them a glowing review as well.
    Result: Filtered

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.

Clean out your (website) closetSeptember 9th, 2013

Every once in a while you look at your bedroom closet and realize that you have a lot of things you rarely (or never) wear. Unless you are going to an 80’s party (or even 70’s), it is time to clean out the closet. I was faced with this task this weekend. I found a lot to give to charity, and the result is more room and better organization.

So what does this have to do with your website you ask? Well, as a web guy, most things I do make me think of parallels in the web world. I got to thinking and the same thing that applies to your closet, also applies to your website. Every once in a while, clean it out.

Here’s a short list:

  • Delete old drafts, and pages not being used.
  • If you take comments, you probably have tons of spam. Delete them.
  • If you have several old backups, thin out the folder to a few.
  • Go through and read your content, yes all of it. Make sure it is up to date and relevant.
  • Change passwords, and go ultra-secure. If you use wordpress, make sure you aren’t using ‘admin’ as your username. Also on the wordpress security front, make sure you have a good security plugin as well. Make sure all plugins and versions are up to date. if you have plugins you aren’t using, de-activate and delete.
  • Take a fresh backup of all content and databases.

No one enjoys cleaning out their closet, or things like spring cleaning. But it does make your life easier, and in the case of a website, safer.  Try to to utilize my list a couple of times a year, you will be happy you did.