About how Yelp filters reviews and what business owners can do to stop it - Housecall Pro
Software Advice

About how Yelp filters reviews and what business owners can do to stop it


Yelp: love it or hate it, the fate of your business is largely intertwined with this online review platform. According to a recent report, there is an average of 26,830 reviews posted every minute by Yelp users—and the company does its best to ensure that the best of the best of reviews are displayed.

Yet to the bane of many business owners, it often feels like their positive reviews simply vanish into thin air while the occasional negative reviews make themselves a permanent fixture on their business listing. What’s up with that?

If you think you’re crazy, you’re not. Get ready, because the Yelp review filter is finally cracked and you’re about to get the low down. We’re here to discuss why and how Yelp filters reviews, teach you how to get Yelp reviews unfiltered, and explain what you can do to get certain Yelp reviews recommended. We’ll also provide you with the basics of Yelp reviews, some stats on why cracking their code is essential for your reputation management, as well as some light on how our review management software can help.

When you’re ready to take back control of your Yelp page, click on a link below to get started.

Does Yelp filter reviews?

If you’re just now learning about the mysterious Yelp filter, we should first get into how the platform filters its reviews before explaining how you can get the Yelp reviews unfiltered.

Let’s start at the beginning: Yelp understands and respects the trust their users place in their online platform. As many as 82% of people head to the site with the intention of buying something, and what they read on Yelp can often make or break their purchasing decision on all sorts of products or services.

That’s a lot of power—and it illustrates the importance of business reviews. In order to provide Yelpers with honest, unbiased, and trustworthy opinions, Yelp recommends top reviews and weeds out the ones they believe may be fake or uninformative.

You can watch a video on why Yelp recommends certain reviews and filters others, but in essence, they understand that not all reviews are created equal. Say, for example, you ask three people for their opinion on a restaurant: your foodie friend, the new neighbor across the street, and a coworker who rarely goes out to eat. You’re most likely to trust the first restaurant connoisseur over the person you don’t really know and the colleague with limited experience, right?

The same concept applies to the opinions of Yelpers; some are held in higher esteem than others. Yelp’s recommendation software looks for the most useful reviews—both positive and negative—to display on a business page. Yelp’s recommendation software automatically evaluates all submissions based on quality, reliability, and user activity.

According to the video, about 75% of reviews are recommended while the remaining portion is filtered out. Clicking on the link at the bottom of a Yelp page (shown in the image above) will display the additional reviews, but those submissions do not have an effect on the overall star rating.

Yelp Review Filter finally cracked

In theory, this is a great practice—unless you’re a small business owner with few public reviews and many filtered ones. It can be quite a headache to boost your online presence if the positive reviews you receive disappear after a couple of days.

In October of 2018, Yelp landed in hot water when it’s algorithm update dubbed, Ghost, removed thousands of Yelp business reviews. Since then, the company has corrected the issue. Notwithstanding, users are still frustrated, so know that you’re not alone. Here’s the key to cracking the Yelp filter and displaying your company’s positive, hard-earned reviews.

Yelp wants to recommend reviews that are…

  • Written by well-established users who have submitted previous business reviews and have friends on their Yelp profile
  • Long, detailed, and informative
  • Honest and unbiased

Notice how this submission meets the Yelp filter’s criteria for a recommended review. The user has photos, friends, and more than one review; the owner has replied to the negative but helpful information; and the updated review is fair, adding even more value.

Yelp does not highlight reviews that are…

  • Written by users they don’t know much about (no photo, additional profile information, etc.)
  • Written by users who live out of the area from the business
  • Written by accounts that could be fake, such as spam bots or company owners
  • Short and missing details
  • Strongly slanted both positively and negatively

This is an example of a filtered review for the same company. Notice how this account does not have photos or friends and has only posted one other review. The content of the review is brief, undetailed, and may be perceived as falsely written by a friend, employee, or owner.

Get Yelp to unfilter your reviews

So now that you know how Yelp filters reviews, what can you actually do about it? All is not lost—you can learn how to get Yelp reviews unfiltered, you just need to be savvy by following these steps.

Identify and connect with users who leave positive reviews

To crack the Yelp filter, you need to engage and respond to reviews you wish were displayed on your business listing and factored into your star rating. Although it’s important to respond to negative customer reviews too, leave these in the shadows for now and focus your time on unfaltering positive Yelp reviews.

You can make the review appear to come from a “useful, active user” by replying to feedback with a gracious comment, sending them a message, adding them as a friend on your personal Yelp profile, and voting the review as “Useful,” “Funny,” and/or “Cool”.

Prevent reviews from being filtered in the first place

Keep in mind that it takes a few days after a Yelp review is submitted to be filtered out by the recommendation software. Instead of going back and learning how to get Yelp reviews unfiltered, be proactive and follow the above steps as soon as possible after it’s published.

Keep a close eye on your business listing and be sure to engage with every positive review you receive ASAP.

Get your customer to recommend you on Yelp

Go one step further and encourage your customers to position themselves for a recommended review. If you’re not sure how to ask for customer reviews, start by explaining how the Yelp platform works. Encourage them to sign up for a free account, add a photo, fill in their information and preferences, connect to their Facebook profile, add friends and learn about their favorite places to frequent, then write a detailed review of their own for your small business.

Pro tip: Not only does the mobile app enhance the user experience, but it also makes the Yelp filter work better since users who are connected to a phone are more likely to be real. If your customer has a smartphone, see if they’d be willing to download the app and “check in” at your business location so that Yelp is less likely to filter their review.

Tips to improve your Yelp business page

The digital impact of online business reviews can’t be understated; more often than not, the lifeline of your company rides on how well you manage your online reputation. That’s why you should take it a step further: don’t just learn how to get Yelp reviews unfiltered and positive reviews displayed; take the time to improve your Yelp page to attract more business and drive more growth.

How? Adding photos to your Yelp business listing is one great strategy. Review Trackers reports that Yelpers spend 2.5 times longer on business pages with photographs, as pictures are a great way to make a more informed decision. Whether it’s a choice between which landscaping service to hire or which taco to try next, a photo can help seal the deal.

It’s always a good idea to respond to positive reviews, but sometimes it’s even more important to respond to negative ones. Use negative feedback as an opportunity to learn from your customers. Thank them for sharing the information and make an effort to remedy the issue at hand. They’ll appreciate feeling heard, you’ll appreciate the room for improvement, and users will appreciate the fact that you care about your customers and not just profits.

Manage Yelp reviews with professional review management software

You have a million and one things on your plate. Make life a bit easier using business review management software by Housecall Pro. We make it easy to target your best customers, generate testimonials, automate reviews, and improve your business rating.

Housecall Pro’s online booking tool for business owners integrates seamlessly with Yelp. After reading through your company’s unfiltered Yelp reviews, they can schedule service directly from the Yelp site without the need to navigate elsewhere. With that sort of convenience, your customer will enjoy a streamlined experience and be primed for a positive review from the get-go.

author avatar
Housecall Pro
Solutions for your business Whether you need to improve dispatching, reduce paperwork, increase workforce or grow revenue, we have a solution.

Housecall Pro

Solutions for your business Whether you need to improve dispatching, reduce paperwork, increase workforce or grow revenue, we have a solution.