Should You Ask For Yelp Reviews?

Last week, Yelp strengthened their stance against solicited reviews by sending out an email to current users and past and present  partners about the updating of this specific policy. Those in the online reputation management sector of the workforce have been talking since the news broke, and businesses who utilize them have found themselves in the middle of a war they never knew they signed up for.

Under their latest policy update, Yelp has declared the soliciting for reviews via email or any other means is something they now deem as entirely unacceptable. To break that down further, businesses are now no longer permitted to send out emails to patrons of their business in hopes of sending them to Yelp to leave a review about their experience with said business.

Whether it be reaching out via email or text alert, Yelp wants no part in the solicitation of reviews so much so that they’re banning partners and businesses that utilize their platform to do so in any manner. Though their intentions are pure, it leaves us wondering: what are the benefits of this action, and how will it affect businesses around the globe? More importantly, it begs the question: should you even ask for Yelp reviews?

Yelp’s ‘no solicitation’ policy stems from their desire to keep things honest and organic, something many consumers can appreciate. Yet there’s talk that these strict impositions aren’t doing any good for businesses or Yelp, for that matter. Forbes magazine wrote about this specifically, calling out Yelp for altering what organic means to consumers in the digital age we live in, stating how many Yelp reviewers take to the review site to share a negative experience more often than a positively gleaming one, saying how it leaves a, “misrepresentative collection of poor reviews”.

According to Forbes, the most negligent and biased content on the site, “is not solicited reviews, and not even fake or manipulated reviews, but a self-selected group of dissatisfied customers who are more likely to write reviews than any other group of people”. If a vast majority of reviews on Yelp or strikingly one-sided, why would Yelp try to implement a policy that deters a solution for bias reviews to be implemented?

Though many surely respect the decision Yelp has made in recent news waves regarding their new ‘don’t ask’ policy, but there is much confusion circulating around this particular regulation. On Yelp’s blog, they defend their intention by stating that asking for reviews, “create bias on your business page — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away”.

So, what’s a business like yours to do in this trying time? Do you forgo your previous efforts to getting those highly sought after 5-star ratings, or do you go behind the rules and regulations and keep on keeping on with your solicitations? When you break it down, it becomes evident how gray the matter truly is.

On one hand, there’s a company trying to get more organic and honest feedback for businesses around the globe; something many would deem as admirable on the surface level. However, on the business side of the equation, it’s more harmful than helpful. With the general perception of everyday Yelp users being those who are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one, businesses are doing all they can to get those who have positive experiences to share their stories with the world — Yelp included.

Ultimately, it’s likely the best and safest choice to abide by Yelp’s regulations. If you choose to ignore their warning signs, Yelp says your business could run the risk of damaging your reputation on their site, along with their partner sites. It’s best to stay in the lines – though they may be unclear — than to detonate your business’s reputation on one of the largest review platforms on the web. Seek out reviews from customers on other sites such as Google and Facebook, for starters. After all, people generally understand that Yelp tends to attract those with scathing reviews more often than not, and giving humanity the benefit of the doubt on this specific case may be your best bet.