Yelp Denies Manipulating Reviews

Article submitted by: Reputation Stars

In response to ongoing accusations that it manipulates reviews in favor of advertisers, Yelp published a blog post denying the claim. Although small business owners have been upset at Yelp for a while, recent stories in The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post prompted the social review site to defend itself once again.

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“Let me be clear: This claim is not — and has never been – true,” wrote Vince Sollitto, vice president of communications and public affairs at Yelp.

The issue is still the same. Many small business owners claim that Yelp’s automatic review filter catches legitimate reviews while posting illegitimate negative reviews. Some small business owners — who have filed lawsuits against Yelp – also say that Yelp will only fix this problem if they agree to purchase advertising on the site.

However, in the company blog post, Sollitto not only denies these claims, but challenges the public to consider the facts behind the allegations. According to Sollitto, independent research by Harvard Business School and Yale professors has debunked the claims. He added that although some business owners have taken these claims to court, the courts continue to dismiss the lawsuits for “lack of any fact-based evidence.”

Finally, Sollitto encourages the public to conduct their own Google search, which, according to him, reveals that there are thousands of companies that do not advertise on Yelp yet still have high ratings.

It’s hard to say which side will win this war. But one thing is for sure: Yelp has the power to either improve or destroy the success and reputation of a business. A 2011 study conducted by Harvard Business School on the impact of consumer reviews on the restaurant industry found that, a “one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.” The study also found that consumers are more likely to pay more attention to reviews if they are written by “elite” reviewers, and if the business has a large number of reviews posted on the site.