Yesterday CEO Jeremy Stoppelman announced substantive changes to the way Yelp displays and filters reader reviews. These changes directly impact the way users and businesses utilize the review site.
Two product changes are now live on the Yelp site:
- Visibility into filtered reviews: Yelp users now can see reviews that have been removed from the review string. While the filtered reviews are not front and center in the user navigation, transparency into what has been removed shows that Yelp’s system applies to everyone equally: users and advertisers. “People can now see which reviews have been removed from the site, so they can judge for themselves whether or not advertisers are getting a special advantage and whether the reviews are worthy,” said Stoppelman. Filtered posts still have no impact on overall ratings. You can see Yelp’s filter policy here.
- “Favorite Review” discontinued: While this popular feature was labeled as “advertising,” it still confused users, thereby prompting its removal.
From Yelp’s perspective, these changes are transparency wins for both businesses and users. In reality, though, businesses may be split on the changes. Some businesses saw the “Favorite Review” as an opportunity to have some level of control over their Yelp presence. Others have complained (and even filed suit) contending that the sale of “Favorite Review” was being used to extort their business into buying a a bigger advertising package.
Regardless, it’s great to see that the review site is open to feedback and understands the concerns many have had on whether or not they have the right to curate the content on business pages. Stoppelman was candid in his assessment, “Not sure we’ll ever get to a perfect solution — but these moves will help.”
Another key move Yelp made to work with and get feedback from local business owners was hiring Manager of Local Business Outreach Luther Lowe. On Wednesday, April 28, Luther will join SmartBrief for a webinar that demonstrates how restaurateurs can utilize the new, more transparent Yelp to address positive and negative ratings and customer reviews.