In an age where reviews have become more important to both customers and as a local ranking factor, multiple companies have emerged to monitor reviews, as well as help small business owners obtain them.

Yelp is trying to stop many of those efforts.

The following piece is from the reputation management companies:

Yelp isn’t the only company that features consumer reviews.  Other brands that promote and publish consumer reviews includes Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Amazon.  However, Yelp has the strongest, and possibly the “most extreme policies against what it calls “review solicitation,” which means asking for reviews in any form.

Historically, Yelp has taken a hard line against this behavior to preserve user confidence and the integrity of its content.  If people felt doubted the the veracity or authenticity of the user reviews on Yelp, usage might end up declining, as would the value of the company.

There are other sites that have a range of policies against incentivizing or paying for reviews.  As an example, Google has a policy that says the following:


Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.

The Google Local Guide program “incentivizes” its members to provide reviews and other content with points and prizes.  Google itself is encouraging participation, and not the individual business owners.  Yelp asks users to write reviews, as well.

But, Yelps more expansive “don’t ask for reviews policy says:


  • Don’t ask customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.
  • Don’t ask your staff to compete to collect reviews.
  • Don’t run surveys that ask for reviews from customers reporting positive experiences.
  • Don’t ever offer freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews — it will turn off savvy consumers, and may also be illegal. Yelp has a Consumer Alerts program to let people know about businesses that engage in this sort of activity.

Even with the the phrase “don’t ask,” Yelp goes further than others.  the company advises business owners not to work with third party review solicitation vendors.  It all depends on how broadly the company is defining that phrase.

Yelp even sought to prevent partners and those using its API from soliciting reviews on sites other than Yelp.  They explained in an email that if a “partner or API user” is soliciting reviews “on yelp or other platforms,” the company will try persuading the partner to stop.  But if they were unsuccessful, the company will discontinue API access or the relationship.

There are companies who are trying to address a small business pain point in the market, while there are those who are seeking to help business owners to obtain reviews that are unethical.  It seems their only way to continue operating, it seems, is to discontinue any practice that looks at all asking for reviews on Yelp.

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