A few weeks back, I posted a blog entry stating that you should always do your research on a company before booking with them.  Just because a company comes up first in the search engine or has a good looking site, doesn’t mean they are the best choice for you.  My recommendation was to seek referrals from friends first and to then use Yelp.  I am by no means a fan of Yelp, but they are the main review company around. With that said, I feel it’s important to give you some insight as to how Yelp really works.

Jennifer and I have been in business for almost 7 years now.  During this time, we have had one very long drawn out battle with Yelp.  Soon after starting The Cinderella Company, we began to notice that our clients were leaving us Yelp reviews.  At the time, Yelp was fairly new and we were not too familiar with how they worked, but we were very excited about our reviews and loved being on there. However at some point soon afterwards, we began to also notice that our reviews were suddenly disappearing.  One day they were there and the next day they were gone.  Each day another review would bite the dust. I would then respond by saying, “it was just there”, “where did it go?”, “what’s going on???”  At one point, we had gone from 35 reviews down to three in a matter of a week or two. Jennifer and I were not only frustrated, but upset and very angry. As I write this, one of our latest reviews that was posted yesterday morning for my performer Ashleigh, was removed last night.

The way that Yelp works is like this.  Unless you have established a history with Yelp by creating an account, making friends in the Yelp community, logging into your account on a regular basis, leaving and reading reviews, your posted reviews will immediately get filtered out and end up in what is called the Yelp filter. The Yelp filter is a holding pen for reviews by reviewers who or are not considered “trustworthy”.  As a consumer, I love leaving reviews.  After traveling, I always leave reviews for the hotels, restaurants and attractions that I visit with Tripadvisor. I happen to be one of those people who spends a lot of time researching places to stay, so I just want to be able to share informative feedback with others. If I were to leave those same reviews on Yelp, they would never get posted because I’m not a daily Yelper.  It’s even more frustrating if you try to contact Yelp personally, because they’re not exactly the easiest to get in touch with.  I’m not sure if they accept phone calls and there is no email information that is easy to find on their site.

As a consumer and business owner, I can appreciate what Yelp is trying to do but they have a major flaw to address. If you talk with a Yelp rep, they will say they have an algorithm that is responsible for filtering out certain reviews; these reviews can be good or bad. As far as I’m concerned, their system is in need of some major tweaking because I have watched as savvy business owners have learned to work the system by simply having Yelping friends leave them 5 star reviews instead and clicking onto the comment boxes multiple times. The reason that I state this fact is because Jennifer and I have worked long and hard for what we have. To date we have 67 public reviews and 84 filtered. In the past, Yelp would not allow those filtered reviews to be seen by the public, but after much resistance from small businesses, those filtered reviews can be seen by all. All one needs to do is to scroll down to the last public review and click on filtered reviews. Those filtered reviews are important because they can be both negative and positive. So if I am a consumer researching a company and they have a 4 star rating, but they have bunch of 1 star filtered reviews, I want to know that. With all of this said, when viewing Yelp reviews for any company, take the reviews with a grain of salt because no system is perfect.