Review Filters for Local Reviews – Good or Bad?

6:45 pm ByFiled Underlocal SEO

For some, it may come as a surprise that sites like Yelp often have a review filter – or a filter that reviews go through to verify their validity. A March 5th post on the Yelp web blog confirms their use of review filters.

A video addressing the very topic depicts business owners and Yelp users explaining the reasons why a review filter is a good thing. Responses included:


  • Verifies malicious reviewers
  • Reduces chance of incorrect or fake reviews being posted
  • Makes Yelp more trustworthy
  • Filters level the playing field
  • Assures integrity of reviews


The filter, the site says, keeps Yelp “useful”. One business owner states “if no one can trust yelp, then it’s not good for business owners either”. Certainly a good point. This level of quality control, however, often flags legitimate reviews incorrectly. There are several reports of business owners having received true reviews that never see the light of day due to the filter.

You have to give Yelp props for at least admitting there’s a review filter. Other review sites, *cough cough Google*, don’t make similar confessions. Yelp touts the great things the filter does, but what about the negative? The fact that many reviews are being flagged incorrectly and basically there’s nothing businesses can do about it is a problem. When a legitimate review is filtered it leaves the possibility for a negative or neutral review to be weighted incorrectly.

Additional reports have surfaced of long time Yelpers reviews being filtered, showing us that there are some kinks in the system. Also don’t forget about the talks of extortion. But what is being done to remedy the issue?

Fact is the system is flawed. There are legitimate reviews being flagged incorrectly. This particular process obviously needs more oversight. A dashboard for business owners? E-mail notifications? An appeal process? At the very least some action should be taken, simply resigning to the current situation isn’t doing anyone any good.

The main problem is that the Yelp review filter, an algorithm, can sometimes register a false positive. There are a few things as a business owner on Yelp that you can do to limit the number of reviews that get marked as spam:

  • Educate reviewers about participating on Yelp. A profile without much valid activity is more likely to get caught in the filter.
  • Profiles should be filled out and a personal avatar added. Don’t be what Mat Siltala calls an “Orange Head”.
  • This interview with Dr. Justin Bazan of Park Slope Eye gives additional insight from one of Yelps top businesses.

In the end, there still isn’t much you can do to help avoid getting trapped in the filter. Until Yelp fixes the issue or puts the power back in the businesses hands, we’ll all be at their mercy.

Have you noticed reviews getting caught in a review filter on other review sites?


  1. Gerald Weber

    While I can understand their reasoning on one hand, I think this also has the potential to do damage, or at least kill the hard work and efforts of legit business owners that have client leave legit reviews. It’s really sad for those business owners that put in the work and then get their good reviews filtered.

    I am quite sure Google has a similar filter because I have had a few legit reviews now show up on my Places page, and it’s also happened to a client of mine recently.

    I would like more info on Google’s review filter, but haven’t had much luck searching thus far.
    Gerald Weber recently posted..Google Gives Search a Refresh – WSJ.comMy Profile

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