SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), the company that connects people with great local businesses, announced today that it will be taking additional steps to protect consumers from biased reviews. The company will place a consumer alert message on a business's profile page when it determines that there have been significant efforts to purchase fake reviews to mislead consumers.
"Yelp has become so influential in the consumer decision making process that some businesses will go to extreme lengths to bolster their reviews," said Eric Singley, vice president of consumer products and mobile, Yelp. "While our filter already does a great job of highlighting the most useful content, we think consumers have a right to know when someone is going to great lengths to mislead them."
The consumer alert will call attention to attempts to purchase reviews for a business profiled on Yelp. When consumers click on the alert, we will show them screenshots exposing the effort to mislead our users.
The alert will be removed from the business's Yelp page after 90 days, unless evidence of ongoing efforts is discovered, which may renew the warning period. Initially, nine businesses will have the consumer alert message posted on their profile page, but the company will be posting alerts like these on an ongoing basis as warranted.
Beyond alerting consumers to attempts to purchase reviews, the next step in Yelp's Consumer Alert program will be to let consumers know if a business has had a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, which can be a helpful indicator that they lack authenticity. While the review filter already takes this type of information into account, we believe that consumers also have a right to know if this activity is going on.
Consumer trust is essential to the utility of a user-generated review service. Since early 2005, Yelp has taken an aggressive stance to protect the quality of the content on its site, namely in the form of its review filter which aims to highlight reviews that are helpful and reliable. This automated program is applied continually and equally to all reviews submitted to Yelp. Reviews that have been flagged by the filter can be viewed by users if desired. Yelp has become a trusted source for more than 78 million monthly visitors in large part because of this focused quality-over-quantity approach.
An independent Businessweeki report confirmed the success of Yelp's efforts to protect consumers. The article details the efforts of a Texan business owner who purchased 200 online reviews in an attempt to artificially bolster his business's online reputation. The report found that Yelp's review filter returned "impressive results" catching every purchased review, while the shill reviews remained up on seven other review sites.
Academic studies from Harvard Business Schoolii and UC Berkeleyiii, have demonstrated the impact a business's Yelp reviews can have on its success. These findings indicate a strong incentive for some businesses to try to game the system, and explain why Yelp must continue to innovate in the steps it takes to protect consumers.
Yelp exists to help consumers find and support local businesses. In its ongoing efforts to help local business owners make the most of their presence on Yelp, the company has built a robust online resource (biz.yelp.com) and offers regular workshops for business owners, both via webinars and locally in more than a dozen cities across the US.
Yelp Inc. connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros across the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Sweden Denmark, Norway, Finland, Singapore and Poland. Yelp had a monthly average of approximately 78 million unique visitors in Q2 2012iv. By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written more than 30 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. Yelp's mobile applications were used on approximately 7.2 million unique mobile devices on a monthly average basis during Q2 2012. For more information please email [email protected].
Media contact: Yelp Inc. Stephanie Ichinose phone: 415-908-3679 email: [email protected]