How to Remove Negative Yelp Reviews and How the Yelp Filter Works

By: Pierre Zarokian

Yelp is the biggest review website. In this post I am going to discuss a about how the Yelp filter works and how to attempt to remove reviews.

Yelp will often filter positive reviews posted by customers. Usually the filter will remove reviews from newly created accounts and those with few reviews in hopes to combat companies trying to post fake reviews for themselves. For the most part it does that job well, but it also results in many legitimate reviews being filtered. In addition, it appears that the filter favors filtering positive reviews more than negative reviews.

Based on some research and experimentation that I have done, the filtered reviews are often applicable to users who have new accounts and are not very active. For example, a lack of friends or profile picture are some reasons the review may get filtered. Reviews from accounts less than 3 months old often get filtered, but no one knows the exact algorithm. I have seen accounts over 6 months old that still get filtered. Generally the more activity there is, such as reviews, check-ins, likes, friend additions, etc., helps to whitelist an account.

However, it has been said that Yelp purposely displays more negative reviews unless you pay to become an advertiser on the website. Many business owners claim that Yelp salespeople have even told them that unless they advertise with them, their positive reviews will be removed. Although we do not know anyone who has experienced this issue, we do know that in 2010 Yelp was hit with a class action lawsuit from business owners claiming extortion. The lawsuit claimed Yelp demanded $300 a month or more for the removal or modification of negative listings.  However, it appears that the in 2011 the lawsuit was dismissed.

Negative reviews may be removed from Yelp only in certain instances, such as those reviews that do not fall within the Yelp Terms of Service (TOS). For example, if the reviewer listed your personal information, such as your social security number, that could be cause to get the review removed. Other issues could include copyright issues or reviewers leaving a bad review based on a friend’s experience and not their own. A good Yelp consultant would be familiar with the Yelp TOS and might be able to help you remove some of your negative reviews.

Another way to get the review removed would be to contact the original poster to try and work out a refund or free service in order for them to remove it. But be advised that it is against Yelp policy to offer incentives or payment for review removals. It is even against Yelp policy to ask for any reviews, which is pretty ridiculous.

If you cannot get any of the negative reviews removed, then you need to bring your overall rating up. Hiring a reputation management firm would help achieve this task much faster, so if you need any help with this, you can contact me.