When will it end? Yelp took a San Diego lawyer to court for allegedly posting fake reviews on his Yelp page, and the lawyer has fought back with an anti-SLAPP ruling.
Claims of unfair filtering and extortion to remove bad reviews continue to plague Yelp. It was interesting to read the last part of this article, where Yelp focuses almost exclusively on the benefits of Yelp for the end user – that your goal should be to become a Yelp Elite member – the people who write cool reviews of businesses. No mention of benefits for a small business – but it’s clear they want your advertising dollars, since that makes up the bulk of their revenue.
It’s important to understand a company’s motivation when making decisions about how to present your own business online. What are the things you are trying to achieve? And what is your online partners motivation to help you achieve it?
We’re still confused why Yelp wants to fight these fights with small business owners. It’s pretty well known that people “fake” reviews and companies pay for “reputation management” firms to enhance their online reputation. Yelp readily admits that they filter reviews that they believe are fake, even though they cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their filtering algorithm guarantees the difference between a real and a fake review. Isn’t the real problem that reviews just aren’t a very reliable way to get an accurate representation of a business? I’m not sure how winning these lawsuits or fighting in the name of “free speech” changes the fact that reviews are easily manufactured and may not be entirely truthful.
We hear all the time that small business owners are too busy to invest in online tools – they want something quick and easy. Fair enough. But shouldn’t effective results-oriented tools be a part of that equation too? There is no free lunch. Spending money with Yelp is simply advertising and nothing more. If that’s what you want, then great, but don’t expect much more than that. And realize that if your needs and Yelp’s needs diverge, you aren’t going to get what you want. Yelp’s publicly stated mission is to help end-users, not merchants. Is that the right type of partner for your business?