Improve Yelp Reviews – A Step-By-Step Process

Posted @ Mar 20 2013 by

This video provides detailed, actionable steps that a business owner can take to get better Yelp reviews and improve their overall Yelp rating.

Transcript on How to Improve Yelp Ratings

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Patterson with Go Fish Digital, and today we’re talking Yelp Help.

If your business has a Yelp page, you know what kind of impact it can have on you because Yelp ranks so well on Google. It can really determine if your business is perceived positively or negatively, because it could be ranked number two right below your website if someone searches your brand name.

And if it doesn’t show up for your brand name today, you still want to be thinking about a strategy, because Yelp is just continually growing in scope.  It’s not just about restaurants anymore.  Hotels are popping up, dry cleaners, pretty much every service business is getting created on Yelp.  So if you’re not there today, you still want to be thinking about it and maybe be proactive in getting your page created and loaded up with those positive 4 and 5 star reviews that you want.

So if you don’t have a page and you’re going to create one, you’re going to want to think about how to get those reviews.  If you have a page and it doesn’t have a lot of reviews, or it has a negative star rating, you’re going to want to think about how to improve those reviews.  You don’t want a 2 ½ star, you want a 3 ½ star.  And if you have a 3 ½ star, you want a 4 ½ star, right?  You always can be better.

So here are some strategies to first get those reviews.  The first thing is to claim your business listing.  So if your business is on Yelp, it’s either been claimed or it hasn’t.  If it’s your business and you want to claim it, there’s a link right on the page.  And from there you really need to decide, because you can go two different ways.

Do you want to build out the page and add deals and pictures, or do you want to leave it alone.  The easy way to make that decision is to think about “do you have positive or negative reviews on the page?”

If your page is good or its empty, feel free to build it out, make it pretty, and all of that stuff.  If your page has some negative stuff on it, don’t add a lot to it yet because what you’re going to do is just help it move up higher in Google, by adding pictures, more text, descriptions and all of that stuff.  Google sees, “Oh this is a website that has a lot of information on this business.  We should  rank it highly.”  So you’ve got to be careful there, so choose wisely when building out the page.

The second thing is, Pre-qualify people that you ask for reviews.  So you definitely want to ask for reviews, despite what Yelp says, which is that you shouldn’t ask for reviews. It only makes sense, right.  Because before the internet, if someone came to your business and they had a great experience, what would the merchant say as they walked out.  “Tell your friends,” right?  Now in this day and age, the way that you tell your friends is by posting it on Yelp; for a lot of people anyway.

So who is Yelp to say the equivalent of “Don’t tell them to tell your friends,” right.  It’s not really fair.

With that said, you can sort of refine that and say you only want to recommend people directly to leave a Yelp review, if they had a positive experience.  So that’s the pre-qualify part.  Ask if there’s anything better that you could’ve done and then if there is, great you have an opportunity for improvement.  But if you did a great job and they’re happy, you can certainly ask for an online review and someone can leave it on Yelp.  They may also go to other places like Google Places or Trip Advisor, but generally asking for an online review leads people back to Yelp.

So three is Ask Friends and Partners. You may think that this goes into the gray area where you’re asking a friend to review your business on Yelp.  But what I’m talking about here is having them be completely honest, right.  So think of this review.  Have your friend leave something like, “I’ve been friends with the owner forever.  He does a great service; I use them all the time.  This is my favorite product.  Make sure you call them if you have this kind of problem.”

So they’re stating right from the beginning, you’ve been friends forever.  There’s a conflict of interest declared.  All right, now forget that and write the honest review that’s really authentic.  That would occur in real life.  Even if you were best friends with another business owner, if one of your friends needed that service, you would recommend your friend, right.  So it’s the same thing.  You’re going on Yelp and you’re having a friend leave a positive review about you.  But stating that it’s a friend.

Likewise, partners, right.  So do you have suppliers that you work with or people who do services for your business.  They can certainly leave a review about their experience.  They can say, “We work with them all the time.  They’re always reliable, always on time. Anything we ask for, they make it happen.”  That’s an honest, authentic review of your business, even if there also is a business relationship there.  The key is just to be transparent and authentic, right.  If you’re real, people can see that.

Then finally, Follow-up Emails. So you’ve pre-qualified someone, you’ve asked them to leave a review, but they may or may not do it.  So follow-up.  If you have their email address, shoot them an email thanking them again for their business, how much you appreciate it, and then there’s two ways to ask for that Yelp review.

You can say, “By the way, we mentioned online reviews.  Here’s our Yelp page.” Make it easy for them, right.  Or if the conversation didn’t go too far into leaving an online review, you can sneakily add it to your email signature.  Like, “People love us on Yelp,” and link to the Yelp page.  So it’s like a subtle reminder that they should leave an online review rather than an in-your-face, straight asking for it in the body of the email.

So that’s getting reviews.  And some businesses have a hard time getting reviews unless they’re bad reviews and some don’t.  Some, they just flow naturally.

The other side is improving reviews.  Getting that, like I was saying, 2 ½ star to a 3 ½ star and 3 ½ to 4 ½.  The first thing to know about this is the filter.  So you can do all of this to get reviews, and some people will leave 5 star reviews that get thrown into what Yelp calls it’s filter.  It’s filter is designed to algorithmically weed out people who Yelp doesn’t think are authentic users.  So people who it’s their first review, it’s the only place they’ve ever reviewed, and it’s a 5 star glowing review.  Yelp is most likely going to throw that into the filter.

So there are ways to get all of those great 5 star reviews that are filtered back into the main page that everyone sees, and they get factored into your overall star rating.

So the overall theme of these is to make that reviewer look authentic.  If you’re doing things right, they are authentic right, they just don’t look that way to Yelp yet.  So you’re going to help move that along, and how do you do that?  Well an authentic Yelp user has friends, so why don’t you add them as a friend.  They may or may not add you back, depending on your relationship, but Yelp can see that someone added them as a friend, and if you have other managers at your office who have Yelp accounts, they can do the same thing, too.

The second is ‘Follow’ them.  So this is a little more like Twitter where you can follow their activity on the website.  The third is ‘Like’ their reviews.  So if they have multiple reviews, you can go to each of them and make them as Useful, Funny, or Cool.  It’s a feature built right into Yelp and it’s very easy to do.  And then fourth is to send them a message.

So within Yelp, you can send them a message directly with exactly what you want to say.  And again, they’ve left a 5 star review about your company, so it’s not totally weird to send them an email or a message within Yelp thanking them for that, and then asking for a few things.

You want to tell them their great 5 star review is getting filtered out so no one can see it, and here are a few tips to make it so people can see it, and you’d really appreciate it.

Upload a profile pic.  If they have a default image on Yelp, Yelp doesn’t really like that, so all the have to do is upload a simple profile pic.  Next is review a few other places, because again, if you’ve only reviewed one place, it doesn’t look that authentic to Yelp, so you want them to review a few more.

A good tip here is that if you know someone is going to create an account to leave a review for you on Yelp, why don’t you ask them to review a few other places first before yours.  That sort of throws off the algorithm a bit in getting reviews filtered.  Yelp tends to filter out a person’s first review.  Not always, but sometimes. And the filter is always moving, so things can pop out of the filter, go back in, so keep in mind if it doesn’t happen right away that’s not the end of the world; it can still always come back.

C)  Suggest they add more friends.  So you can pair your Yelp account with Facebook, they integrate pretty easily and that will help you figure out which of your Facebook friends are also on Yelp.  Then you can add them as Yelp friends.  Again, these are all things that a normal Yelp user would do and that’s what we’re trying to mimic.  Because this is a real person and we want Yelp to see that.

D) Check in.  So this involves using the mobile app.  And this we’ve found is really effective.  If you are checking in at other businesses, it seems to signal to Yelp that you’re more likely a real person because it would be a big step for someone to create a fake account and then add it to their phone and then start checking in at locations.  It’s a big barrier.  And so this is really effective, but it’s also a hard one to convince someone to do.  So you’ve got to sort of gage their ability and interest in doing that.

E) Be active.  So overall, you just want to encourage them to be active.  Like a regular Yelp user will look at different pages.  They’ll leave reviews, they’ll like other people’s stuff.  They’ll send them notes and Follower other users.

If you do those things, if there were 10 good reviews in the filter, I bet these steps here could get at least five of them out.  It just works, and all Yelp is looking for is real reviews.

So those are some tactics for establishing a good page, and then making and establishing Yelp page better.  If you have any questions on Yelp or reputation management in general, we would love to help you out.  Feel free to fill out a form on this page or give us a call and we can certainly take a look at it for you.

Thanks a lot….


  1. Pingback: How To Use Yelp To Grow Your Business In 2013: A Comprehensive Guide | A Better User Experience

  2. radouane

    April 22nd, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Thanks for the great video and for the time you took to publish this helpful info. My question is do you recommend removing information from the yelp business page in order to drive yelp down on the search engines!!!??

    thank you


    • Brian Patterson

      April 22nd, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      It wouldn’t hurt to diminish the amount of content on a Yelp page if it is ranking well and you want to push it down. I’m not sure that would be a critical part of the strategy, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

  3. Pingback: The Definitive Guide to Yelp for Small Businesses |

  4. Pingback: Yelp and the challenges of reputation management - WebSage

  5. Bailey

    January 13th, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I need help getting better reviews on yelp/ google pages! The ones on there now are absolutely terrible. What should I do? The business is names Lyerly’s Cleaners!


Leave a Comment