What are Yelp Filtered Reviews?

 In Restaurant Industry, Reviews

Prost Productions, a film company, is on the warpath. They’ve created a documentary, Billion Dollar Bully, exploring the uses and abuses of Yelp and its policies. They want people to be informed about the problems with Yelp and to realize that many businesses not only feel they’re not benefiting from Yelp but actually being harmed by this popular online review system.

Yelp Filtered Reviews and How They May be Harming Your Restaurant

One of the big problems they explore—one of the major flaws in the Yelp system—is filtered reviews. What are Yelp filtered reviews? Here’s what you need to know about them and how they are affecting restaurant businesses like yours.

How filtered reviews (don’t) work

Filtered reviews are reviews you have received that Yelp does not post to your main review page. All of your visible reviews come under the heading “Recommended Reviews,” in large red letters. But if you scroll to the bottom of your review page, you will see a small gray link to view reviews that are “not currently recommended.”

Why would Yelp hold back any of your reviews? A video at the bottom of your Yelp page is put there to explain why Yelp does this. They say they are posting reviews they deem the “most helpful” and filter out other reviews “based primarily on quality, reliability, and the reviewer’s activity on Yelp.”

This seems reasonable. But unfortunately, a review without “quality” can simply mean a concise review, an “unreliable” review might mean a review from a first-time customer, and a “reviewer’s activity on Yelp” means that an infrequent Yelp user’s opinion doesn’t count as much as the opinion of someone who frequently uses the platform. The algorithm also filters a lot of 1-star and 5-star reviews, since they can be a sign of a fake review.

Filters would be great if all your filtered reviews were fake, inaccurate, or negative. But that isn’t the case. It’s not only fake reviews that get the cut. Positive and real reviews get filtered out, too. Thousands of frustrated businesses are speaking out: they’re tired of positive and significant reviews disappearing.

“Filtered” = “bad”

Even if customers are aware they exist, filtered reviews can be associated with negative reviews in a potential customer’s mind. “Filter” is not associated with neutral ideas or substances, but with things that are questionable, inappropriate, or negative. When the word “filtered” is associated with your reviews, not only are they hidden, but they become associated with a negative label, even if they are five-star reviews. No wonder businesses are complaining. Why would a customer reach into an archive of reviews called “filtered” or “not recommended” for the balanced information they need?

You have to look for filtered reviews

Filtered reviews are not listed among the visible reviews on the initial review page. Readers must scroll to the bottom of the page, where they will find a small gray link, as in the image below.

Notice how the font is lighter and smaller than the other font on the page. It is also located under all the other reviews. Even if you click on this link, it will not display all filtered reviews right away, but just a few. You have to find and click on another small, gray link in order to see more.

Filtered reviews are not impossible to find, but they are inconvenient, and more importantly, simply do not count.

Clicking the filtered review link for a small local Thai restaurant in Dallas, TX, for example, takes you here:

Notice—5 stars! And you must click an additional link to see more filtered reviews. But the point is not that filtered reviews only remove desirable reviews. This rave 5-star review came after two filtered 1-star reviews. The complaint is that filtered reviews remove any desirable reviews at all. That is unacceptable when you’re trying to build a business.

Filtered reviews sometimes “catch the bad guy,” but their system is based on best guesses and often go after the wrong culprit, at your expense.

Filtered reviews don’t get a human hearing

Filtered reviews are controlled by an algorithm, a software. Many kinds of automation can make the restaurant business easier. Not so with review filters. Some issues require creative human discernment. But your reviews on Yelp do not get a hearing with actual human employees at Yelp, so the individual judgment call often needed to determine whether a review should or should not be filtered is left to the hands of an impersonal equation which can only read factors, not circumstances.

Filtered reviews don’t count

Even if customers can find them, another problem with filtered reviews is that they don’t get counted toward your average star rating. Potential diners can read your filtered reviews all they want, but they’ll have to do their own math to figure out your average rating. Part of the point of online review sites is that they do the math for you, bringing the total average up to the top, and letting you look into the details from there.

But not with Yelp. Only reviews which Yelp’s software finds acceptable fit into that equation. Any positive reviews that are written, for example, by an out-of-towner, or by someone new to Yelp, are subject to exclusion, and there is no guarantee that your average star rating is accurate or fair. This is bad news for your business when you have no control over how reviews are posted. Some of your best reviews might not even get a hearing. And some of your worst reviews might be exerting undue influence on your very visible average rating.

Original Review keeps your reviews safe. We give you real reviews, in real time, with actionable insights on a real review platform. There are no filters because you don’t need them. Check us out on the web, and try your own free demo.

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