Negative Reviews on Yelp: What to Do

Every negative review on Yelp translates to serious losses for your business. Especially if you’re a restaurant, or a service-oriented business. You face steep consequences if customers think that you’re not trustworthy. If you find that you have accumulated bad reviews on Yelp, here are some steps you can take.

Dispute Reviews

One step you can take is to dispute Yelp reviews and have them removed. Sometimes, it can be tricky and requires a lot of finesse, but carefully reviewing Yelp’s terms of use is a good place to begin. If you can find ways that a review violates the terms of use, you can ask Yelp to take that review down and the company will typically comply with your request.

You do this by flagging the review. But note that Yelp very rarely remove a review and does not want to act as the judge and jury, so the only way to remove it if it is against their terms of service.  An example would be if someone posted a review claiming their friend had a bad experience at the establishment. Since it is not a personal review, this would be against the terms of service.

If you have any kind of proof or evidence that the review is in accurate, the best way would be to send a letter to Yelp legal department with your paperwork. It is best to hire an attorney or a reputation management company to do this.


If you cannot get removal, your next step is to find an opportunity to turn the negative to a positive. A great way to begin is by publicly posting an apology and asking the customer to contact you directly for resolution. Just be prepared to make this person happy and make the situation right.  However, be careful that id you are providing a refund, not to make this a condition of the removal, as that is against Yelp Policy.  If they find out or if the person reports you, it could have other negative consequences, such as Yelp posting a notice on top of your profile about this and telling your visitors not to trust your reviews.

Positive Reviews

Another way to counter bad reviews is to generate good ones. If you provide excellent services you would automatically get good reviews. Go above and beyond with your customers and even throw in freebies or discounts. For example, if you run a restaurant, provide a free appetizer or desert and surprise your customers.

However, be careful if asking for reviews or providing incentives for positive reviews. Yelp has a policy against asking for reviews or providing incentives. They think this does not make your business fair compared to others that may not be asking.  I am totally against this idea and previously wrote about it here.

Still, one of the best ways to combat negative reviews is to increase your positive reviews.

Other Review Sites

Finally, Yelp is not the only review platform, so you should try and increase your positive reviews on many review sites such as Google Maps, online Yellow Pages and BBB, specially if some of these rank in the top 10 of Google.  This way if your customers see your Yelp profile with a not so good rating, at the same time they also see some of your other profiles that may have positive reviews.