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Hunter Swift

Hunter Swift Manager of Market Development

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Yelp's Review Filter Complaints


Having a “good” online reputation can send many new customers your way. However, a negative online reputation can cost a business in lost revenue. We are asking are customers to rate us, and Yelp is one of the biggest online reviews sites. But some businesses are happy with how Yelp is handling their reviews.

Yelp has an automated filter/algorithm that suppresses reviews they deem ‘suspicious.’  It’s doesn’t always seem either consistent or fair, but that’s the way it is.

A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook of her husband's medical practice.:

"Yelp cannot be trusted - they are extorting small businesses!! Because my husband will not pay Yelp's advertising fees, they have blocked all 17 of his five star reviews, and only posted his 4 negative ones, 3 of which are posted by patients who are not in his patient records (fake patients). Yelp has been informed that these patients are not in my husband's records, and will not remove them."

Yelp says it filters reviews from lesser known reviewers until there is "trust" established, so reviews do NOT show up and are not counted in the tally. They also filter reviews from new members who have a slew of 5-star or 1-star reviews. So much for only review those businesses you really like or only review businesses when they have wronged you. 

Although it stated on the Yelp FAQ "The sort algorithm does not take into account whether the business is an advertiser or not." and "Businesses cannot pay for favorable treatment." Some have been told "You'll get bad reviews unless you purchase advertising with us". 

One Business Owner stated "Yelp algorithm filters out good reviews from businesses that are not willing to spend $500/month advertising on Yelp."  

Another business stated,  "I've had my business listed for well over a year, and have enjoyed only five star reviews. Two weeks ago I was solicited by Yelp to purchase advertising. I declined... Another five star review came in this week, but this one got filtered."

Apparently Yelp was just hit with a class action lawsuit for its data mining algorithm. So it will be interesting to see what the future holds. 

While I am not completely convinced that Yelp is extorting money from businesses, I am 100% convinced that their review filter algorithm needs alot of work.

As dealers have you notice your reviews being filtered? Have you been told that if you advertise there was any benefit to your reviews?

What are your thoughts?



Hunter Swift is the Manager of Market Development at DealerSocket and has been with the company since 2005. In addition to his current role he has fulfilled the responsibilities of customer support, consulting, training, and sales. He specializes in helping dealerships improve processes through the use of CRM technology. Prior to DealerSocket he sold cars and is a graduate of Pepperdine University.

Follow him: @HunterSwift

Erik S
It is the same deal with the company I work for. We haven't had a positive review stick around since this past summer. Every single good one has been filtered, whereas several negative ones that should have been filtered have not. Coincidence? Don't think so.
Tanya H
The problem with Yelp is that nobody cares what hipsters think any more.

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