Yelp Now Wants Reviewers to THINK Before Posting? Only If the Business Has 1-4 Reviews

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I was mucking around in Yelp yesterday and noticed a new message when I was logged in and viewing a business’s page.

Here’s what Yelp users see if they’re viewing a business with 5 or more unfiltered reviews:

“Start your review.”  Understandable enough.  Yelp wants more “recommended” reviews on the site, and is giving you a little prod.

But here’s what it says when logged-in users look at a page with 1-4 unfiltered reviews:

“Your opinion could be huge.”  That’s ambiguous.  Yelp is implying two things – the first of which is pretty obvious.

Of course, if you’re reviewing a business you like, you want your opinion to help the business – if only so that it stays in business.

I wish I could have reviewed this candy store in Back Bay Boston that closed when I was a kid.  It was a “candy forest.”  You’d walk on a bridge over a pond of wrapped blue mints, past the giant mushroom with caramels hidden under the top, over to the fake hollow tree full of chocolates.  Too bad I can’t remember the name.  Loved that place.

But it’s probably good that the candy forest predated Yelp by many years.  Some whiner would have gone in there, let his screaming kid eat the candy as he walked through the forest, refuse to pay for it, and then with a red face and unhinged emotions write a 1-star review of the magical candy forest.

That’s the second point Yelp’s new quasi-warning is supposed to impart to reviewers: A 1-star review stings if a business only has a couple of other reviews.

The cutoff appears to be 5 reviews.  Yelp sorta-kinda encourages you to think about what you’ll write about a business with 4 reviews or fewer.

Given Yelp’s recent woes, I would guess that this is Yelp’s attempt to encourage more coolheaded reviews.  That would mean better press for Yelp, and fewer business owners who hire lawyers to cross swords with Yelp’s very busy lawyers over bloodied online reputations.

The only problem with my theory is the message you see when you view a business with no reviews:

Nothing resembling a warning there.

Sure, I think most people are smart enough to realize that one review about a business doesn’t mean much, and maybe the people at Yelp are smart enough to realize that.  But you’d think the same “Your opinion could be huge” message would be appropriate here.

Maybe Yelp is just trying to prevent a lemming effect, where a business gets a couple dud reviews from the first two reviewers, and then the subsequent reviewers pile on.

Why do you think Yelp is showing these new prompts?

Do you think it’s a small step in the right direction, or in the wrong direction?

Leave a comment!


  1. “Your opinion could be huge” can be taken both ways – that if you want to take down a business, your opinion might help do that, or if you want to help a business, you could help there too.

    It could also be FUD such as which seems to give consumers way too much power in “destroying” a business.

    In all actuality, I think it’s something much simpler. Yelp’s entire business model depends on consumers giving reviews. It’s well known that content creators make up ~1% of the population. So, to goose that number, they will put Calls to Action in to promote consumers to do something they might not otherwise do. I really think it’s as simple as that.

  2. I am an avid user of Yelp for many reasons. 1. I can review my clients businesses and yes, I give an honest opinion. 2. I can build my Yelp review portfolio to give my reviews priority over other reviews (this works). The Yelp review world is nightmare, but if you have a profile that is consistently used, your reviews will always be recommended. My advice for anyone looking for a yelp review:

    1. Ask your customers to stop by and check in before leaving a review.
    2. Ask your customers to take a picture and upload it before leaving a review.
    3. Ask your customers to leave a tip before leaving a review.
    4. Ask your customers to give an HONEST review. (It doesn’t hurt to have a 4 star guys – think amazon)
    5. Ask your customers to use their profile to review many other businesses. (this will give some validity to your review)

    These are just some of the things i urge my clients to do with Yelp before leaving a review ….. OR ELSE!!!!!

    In any case, with so few reviews on a Yelp page, it is crucial to follow these steps so that your review is actually recommended. Keep in mind….. “Your opinion could be huge”!!!

    Awesome post.

  3. Its nice to see Yelp trying to do something. I’ve worked with restaurants for a while and have my own battles and frustrations with the organization.

    These are just some random thoughts I’ve had, but I’d like Yelp to try a grace period, where after you leave a review it won’t publish immediately. They’ll send u you what you posted and see if you still would like to post your original message. This might curb some emotional customers before it is too late.

    Also, another random thought. Some Yelpers use the medium as a way to just target businesses. I’d like to see a system like Moz, where yelpers have rankings themselves. The more negative reviews, a sign would show, cuz I think we all know some customers are a little over the top.

    But all in all, nice to see small improvements

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