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Yelp appears to be taking the Google approach with their listing and enforcing strict policies against “shady” reviews or ratings. Yelp is issuing alerts and warnings for businesses that are caught engaging in what they deem shady business practices.

One example referenced in an article from WebProNews, “We caught someone offering up cash, discounts, gift certificates or other incentives in exchange for reviews about this business. We wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules.”

This isn’t anything new from Yelp as they have been doing this very active in 2015 with over 150 issues this year alone.

I do agree with the approach to ensure that the reviews or ratings and unique and also genuine. I somewhat disagree with offering an incentive for writing a review, because even though they received an incentive it was still unique and genuine. If they are offering incentives to change a negative review into a positive, then I do agree with that being deemed shady and flagged.

It would behoove business owners to put forth more effort on ensuring that their customers/clients are receiving the quality service they want them to say they get. If you spend this much time trying to coerce and bribe the reviews on actual customers service then they wouldn’t need to take this approach and use these shady tactics.

“Although most businesses earn their reputations fairly, some are becoming sophisticated in their attempts to manipulate their online reputation,” wrote Vince Sollitto in another blog post. “Fortunately, Yelp is just as committed to protecting the integrity of our content and we are constantly learning and improving our mechanisms to detect suspicious behavior.”

He explains, “Yelp has issued a new Reputation Warning on more than 100 listings for moving companies across the U.S. who are connected to the Movers Alliance, a group that operates many mover and relocation businesses under several names and listings on Yelp, other consumer sites, and government databases. We have evidence that this group and the businesses connected to it pressure customers into writing positive reviews (sometimes on the spot) in exchange for a discount, manipulate customers into posting reviews to listings other than the one they transacted with (sometimes in an entirely different state), ask customers to sign a contract preventing them from publishing negative reviews in case of a dispute, and purchase fake reviews online.”

For businesses with the “reputation warning,” Yelp goes even further than that it does with those with the regular consumer alert. It actually removes the reviews and star ratings for the business, and instead just displays a warning with a link to its evidence.

Hat’s off to Yelp for taking a proactive approach in ensuring ratings and reviews are unique and genuine.

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