Market Overview

Yelp Sting Catches Companies Who Pay for Reviews


5StarControl shines a light on recent efforts by Yelp to catch and expose businesses that pay for good reviews on Yelp's local business search and review site.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) November 01, 2012

5StarControl has issued a statement about a new Yelp policy which seeks to expose businesses which try to pay for good reviews on Yelp.

Local Business Review Site 5StarControl stated that innocent individuals will be thrilled with the recent sting by Yelp in which they caught businesses attempting to buy good reviews on Craigslist, and placed warnings to consumers about those businesses, similar to a tactic used by TripAdvisor as reported by the New York Times.

Yelp is one of the heavyweights in the online local search and review sector. Since its inception in 2004, Yelp has amassed 78 million unique monthly users, who have posted more than 40 million different business reviews to the site. On Yelp, anyone can search for a business and then rate and write a review of that business. Yelp employs an algorithm for removing Yelp reviews, both positive and negative, which do not appear to be genuine in an attempt to only publish legitimate reviews. This is the first time that Yelp has gone a step further, and attempted to expose companies which have paid for positive reviews.

Another review site that also employs this tactic to limit paid-for reviews is TripAdvisor. Claiming to be the largest source of travel-related information on the web, TripAdvisor was started in 2000 and was spun-off from the travel booking company Expedia in 2011. On TripAdvisor, people can rate businesses such as hotels, airlines, restaurants, and bars and then use the service to find businesses when they travel. TripAdvisor has an undisclosed method of weeding out businesses which pay for good reviews, and has blacklisted more than 30 companies from its site to date.

One of the places where businesses were found trying to buy reviews was Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classifieds service which was founded by Craig Newman in the San Francisco area in 1996. There are now Craigslist portals in over 570 cities in 50 different countries around the world. Craigslist has many of the classic classifieds sections, including personals, jobs, and items for sale.

The recent crackdown by Yelp on around eight different businesses caught paying for good reviews is a sign that it is becoming more and more important for a business to generate legitimate positive reviews on the site. Additionally, it highlights the importance given to Yelp reviews in terms of online reputation management, given the fact that one business was willing to pay $200 for a single positive Yelp review. The decision by Yelp to publicly decry these businesses is a sign that they are no longer going to tolerate the practice, and are doing more to legitimize their listings.

5StarControl is a newsletter about small business issues in the area of positive Yelp reviews.

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