Photo: Business Insider
Yelp has become the go-to place for posting and reading reviews on local businesses.As Yelp has grown increasingly popular, it has had its fair share of sketchy, incentivized reviews posted to the site.
Its number one line of defence is the review filter, which tracks all the signals coming in and decides which reviews to show.
But sometimes, it’s just not enough.
At Business Insider’s IGNITION event today, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman confirmed that there have been shady businesses posting on Craigslist and other sites to purchase positive reviews.
It’s a cat-and-mouse game, not unlike the constant battle between Google and folks trying to game its search engine.
“We came up with an interesting way to combat that,” Stoppelman said. “Sting operations.”
Yelp launched this new initiative, the Yelp Consumer Alert, just one month ago. The team identified businesses they caught red-handed and placed a large alert on their page to notify users that something was wrong.
Stoppelman said they wanted to make a statement that those businesses didn’t have their customers’ best interest in mind.
He also wanted “to be as transparent about it as possible.”
The extreme lengths that Yelp is going to in order to prevent fraudulent reviews show how dangerous it is for businesses—small or large—to try to game the system. Be unethical and not only will you be punished, but the world will know. From a branding standpoint, there’s no reason to ever do it.
For millions of users, Yelp is the first place they check before going to a restaurant or store. Breaking their trust would be devastating.
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