Does Yelp Help Small Business?

Yelp recently filed a lawsuit against Revleap – a company which makes its money providing and controlling a large, consistent flow of positive reviews that stay atop your profile. Revleap’s platform allows for quality control of reviews posted to Yelp, along with other platforms such as Google Plus, Trip Advisor and Facebook. Yelp is alleging that Revleap has been trading gift cards to people in exchange for writing positive reviews, scamming the system by boosting client ratings. Revleap, however, is propagandizing that Yelp is “destroying small business”.

Many small businesses may tend to actually agree with Revleap, especially when it comes to filtering out the fraudulent or misrepresentative reviews. A make or break for many in the service industry, Yelp reviews tend to have a large influence on the buying cycle. Depending on how reviews are filtered and displayed, it can have a huge impact on revenue and profits.

Yelp argues it’s a common misconception that more of a company’s negative reviews are presented over positive ones. Yelp’s Daniel Holloway, leader of small business outreach, has been quoted stating that nearly 80% of reviews are three stars or higher. If what Holloway says is true, it seems mildly ironic and somewhat redundant that businesses hurting for income “due to negative reviews” would spend money with another company for positive reviews.

Perhaps small businesses are feeling a self-imposed, exaggerated amount of heat, or perhaps Yelp is just generally defiant of how their filtering algorithm affects the day to day of small business. Regardless of standpoint, it’s undeniable that review sites have forced most services to re-evaluate and change how they are doing business online to compensate for public perception.


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  1. Cynthia Yoder says

    I work as a consultant for a small business that has been hurt by Yelp’s algorithm. We can’t know the extent of the thousands of dollars lost due to potential clients choosing another company whose online reviews are more reflective of their service.

    Though this company has not gone in this direction, it doesn’t surprise me that companies would pay Revleap to fix the problem. Companies must have online profiles that are reflective of their word-of-mouth reputation. That’s basic public relations.

    I’d like to see someone do an investigative report on small business profiles on Yelp. Because of their algorithm, it is easy for a small business to get trashed on Yelp by negative reviews, while positive reviews fall into the “not recommended” status and don’t get counted. Why? We don’t know–because Yelp will not say. We guess that it’s because the positive reviews were written by customers who aren’t on Yelp a lot. But that seems like a thin reason to suppress a positive review.

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