Posted by Suzanne Blecher on April 7, 2010 06:10 PM
In response to class action lawsuits filed by business owners who allege they've been extorted by Yelp, the site is now making filtered-out reviews visible.
Yelp has also removed the option for companies to push their favorite review to the top of their company’s page. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman posted on his blog that “Lifting the veil on our review filter and doing away with 'Favorite Review' will make it even clearer that displayed reviews on Yelp are completely independent of advertising – or any sort of manipulation."
Yelp has explained the purpose of its review filter before. It is partly to protect business owners from unwarranted, unfavorable reviews by competitors. However, Yelp explains the problem is that sometimes-legitimate experiences are filtered out by the algorithmic process. The yanked reviews were no longer visible to readers, causing many to speculate that the reviews were pulled by Yelp because the person/company did not want to pay for advertising on the site, an accusation that Yelp denies.
Some individuals like medical professionals will feel a sigh of relief with this change. One negative post can be financially and personally hard-hitting in a business that is so intimate, and there aren’t a lot of ways to fight back unless the post is libelous. Instead of spending time reading medical journals, some doctors say they are forced to spend their time managing their personal brands online.
If you own a local business featured on Yelp or another guiding site, check your reviews from time to time. You may be surprised with what you read and it may be affecting your bottom line.