Business Owners Hate Yelp (and no, its not the bad reviews)

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In December of 2015 I wrote a blog post that suggested an attempt by a few Vancouver moving companies to hornswoggle the system on Yelp. Fast forward a year and wow have there been some dramatic developments, but first some background. 12 months ago I took a snapshot of the Yelp site search results for the keywords ‘movers vancouver’ and ‘moving company vancouver’ (via Google). Yelp provides their audience with 2 categories when it comes to reviews in a company profile. For example if you were to look at the Citymove page you will see ‘reviews’, and at the bottom of the page and you’ll see the notation ‘other reviews that are not currently recommended’. With this in mind let’s see where the 12 companies are today compared to 1 year ago.

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The Curious Case Of Go Truck Go v. You Move Me 

As mentioned Yelp reviews fall into 2 categories, recommended and not recommended; The latter category resultant when the Yelp filter doubts the veracity/credibility of the review. At this time last year Go Truck Go had almost 80 % of its reviews excluded and just over 20 % recommended, but what a difference a year makes. In a jaw dropping turnaround, this year 100% of all 61 GTG reviews were deemed legitimate with zero(!) reviews ending in the not recommended pigeonhole. This number is all the more extraordinary when you consider the average number of reviews added over the course of the year by 11 similar sized companies is < 9 each.

By contrast You Move Me had ± the same quantity of reviews as GTG, but with diametrically different results. Over the course of the past 12 months YMM added a net total of 64 reviews, however 61 of them were banished to the hinterland known as not recommended. In essence Yelp declared only 9% of YMM reviews to be legitimate compared to 100% for Go Truck. How is it that 2 companies with more or less the same number of trucks have such wildly different outcomes? I can think of a couple of reasons.

Reviews posted to movers’ accounts on Yelp seem to be manipulated, the direction depends upon what your company name is. If the average number of reviews over 12 companies is < 9 each per year, it is not a long bow to draw to suggest that companies racking up 700% more reviews are actively soliciting, contrary to Yelp’s stated policy. More troubling however is the perception that one company is being actively aided by Yelp to outdistance their competition, while another is being keelhauled for reasons unknown. Is this the invisible hand of a local Yelp representative and some quid pro quo? I don’t know and I hope it’s not the case because I still trust Yelp, but this why business owners have strong feelings.