When it comes to online reputation management for your veterinary practice, Yelp is one of the major players the realm of online reviews that you should be monitoring closely. Founded in 2004 as a website devoted to helping online users connect with local businesses, Yelp has grown into one of the most popular review sites on the web. According to information provided on the Yelp site, on average more than 50 million people visit Yelp every month in search of services, and to read and post reviews. While there are a number of other websites that also offer consumers this option, what separates Yelp from the rest of pack is that it employs a fairly stringent review filter. The result is that some reviews that may seem benign and credible will not be displayed and will get filtered out. If a new-to-Yelp business is striving to establish credibility, they may of course get frustrated with reviews that they know are submitted by legitimate customers, but are still being filtered. Fortunately, in these cases consumers can still read filtered reviews by clicking on the gray link indicating the number of filtered reviews (“X Filtered”) at the bottom left of any Yelp business listing. In the event you cannot not see this link, then the business listing does not have any filtered reviews.
How Credible Reviews Make It Through the Yelp Filter
Let’s take a closer look at how the filtering process works. As quoted from their site:
“Yelp’s review filter is designed to help protect against fake reviews, including those that might be written by a competitor or a disgruntled former employee. Since it’s not always easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, the system sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews, especially those that are written by less established users. Some businesses might fear that they are being singled out among the millions of businesses on Yelp. Rest assured, the review filter is automated to reduce human bias. It affects both positive and negative reviews, and doesn’t have anything to do with whether a business is an advertiser or not.”
Note the word “established” in the above explanation: For those reviewers who have only posted one review on Yelp, and have not been active otherwise on the site (such as those who do not have a profile, photo, or have not “friended” others), they are much more likely to have their reviews filtered. This “filtered” status will usually change once the reviewer becomes more involved and “established” on the site — meaning more credible in the eyes of Yelp. When it comes to making it through the Yelp filter as a reviewer, it’s really just about making efforts to be active on the website, and regularly posting helpful reviews.
If you find your business is receiving negative reviews on Yelp it is important to remember that reviews can change from negative to positive over time. One of the ways to help this happen is to reach out to those reviewers who were unhappy with the services you provided. An unsatisfied customer might reconsider changing their low rating to a higher one if they feel acknowledged and that the issues they mentioned in their review have been addressed. Yelp reviews are not static, and can morph in status over time. To help overcome the Yelp Review Filter, strategies can include: voting the review useful or funny, sending the reviewer a compliment, letting them know their review is being filtered and encouraging them to fill out their profile, or asking to be added as a friend on Yelp. Making efforts such as these to engage the review and the reviewer will help in getting those filtered reviews to show up on your Yelp business page.
Why Yelp is Important to Your Veterinary Practice, and Your Clients
A large percentage of consumers check online reviews when seeking a specific product or service, and often rely on web-based feedback early in their decision-making. However, a much smaller percentage actually post online feedback, and as such, a more vocal minority may have a greater impact on the decisions that your potential customers make. Becoming involved and proactive at online review sites such as Yelp is a crucial part of online reputation management for your veterinary practice and will pay off in the long run if you are willing to stay on top of it!
- Create or claim the business listing for your veterinary practice on Yelp (and other online directories/review sites), fill out all applicable fields, and engage with consumer feedback regularly.
- Encourage satisfied clients to write and post reviews by offering great customer service.
- Reach out to your reviewers (that includes both positive and negative).
Check out Yelp (and other online directories/review sites) to see what consumers are saying about your business!