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Yelp Can Be a Headache for Dealers –
Advice on Getting a Successful Review Presence There
One of the most common questions I get from dealers regarding online reviews is whether or not to gather reviews on Yelp.com. I have found that there are definite do’s and don’ts – and that auto dealers face SERIOUS backlash if they don’t gather reviews the right way on Yelp.
Yelp does not function like the majority of review sites across the Internet. Their site is driven by passionate reviewers called ‘Yelpers.’ Yelpers write reviews on all types of local businesses, and the more high quality and useful the reviews they contribute are, the more esteemed they are by the Yelp community – with people eventually achieving an ‘elite’ reviewer status.
Because Yelp is driven by its user community, when a dealership has customers write a review without being an established Yelper, the community often thinks that the dealership is posting fake reviews. So, it’s absolutely critical that dealerships don’t just send any old customer to review on Yelp.
Furthermore, the Yelp community is unique in that it flags (through a review filter) reviews written by users that have posted no other reviews at the site – these are called ‘Drive Bys’ or ‘501s’ (from, 5-star review, 0 friends on Yelp, 1 review written). When a business has several reviews flagged as 501s or drive-bys, Yelp often simply removes the reviews. Sometimes the reviews show back up again, and other times they are gone forever. We have heard from so many dealers: “I gathered a dozen reviews at Yelp and they just disappeared!” And it’s not just the time and energy wasted - when other Yelpers start posting about how these are suspicious or fake reviews, it can do more harm that having NO reviews at the site.
Since there is so much traffic on Yelp - and passionate, engaged Yelpers tend to really trust the reviews there - and those reviews are getting pulled into Google Places listings, dealers want to make sure they have positive content on the site. But the review-gathering process differs…
Tip 1: Add a sentence on your review-gathering email or email template that reads, “Are you an established Yelper? If so, please Yelp about us!” It’s typically not even necessary to drive the general customer to your Yelp listing, because if someone is an established Yelper, they will know exactly how to find your listing.
Tip 2: Ask your customers in person if they ‘Yelp.’ If they know what Yelping is, ask them to write a review for your dealership. If they don’t, DON’T send them to Yelp to write a review for your dealership!
By having only established Yelpers review your dealership, the reviews will not be flagged for removal. You will have less reviews than you may at other targeted review sites/directories, but the reviews you do receive will be much more impactful.
Q. If I advertise on Yelp, will they remove my negative reviews?
A. According to Yelp, paid advertising can never change or re-order their reviews.
Q. I have asked customers to write reviews on Yelp, and now they are missing! Why?
A. Remember the ‘501’ Issue – 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.
So…the answer to the question, “To Yelp, or not to Yelp?” Yelp!
Reviews on Yelp really HELP! But be sure to follow the right process.
If you have any questions, please just call or email...
Merla Turner, Director of Dealer Training for eXtéresAUTO, firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-475-5553