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Review Filtering in the Local World – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Apr 24, 2013   |   Getting Social
Review Filtering

Review Filtering

A hot topic in the local world is the use of review filters on local platforms. Better customer reviews lead to higher rankings in search engines, so business owners and managers are willing to do just about anything to boost the quantity of positive reviews. Yelp, for instance, has caught many businesses paying customers to add positive reviews, which goes against Yelp’s slogan, “Real people, Real reviews”.

In order to ensure that reviews posted about a business are authentic, websites such as Yelp and Google are using algorithms that filter reviews based on keyword stuffing, extreme adjectives or profanity, and link inclusion in a review. Seems fair and justified right? However, there is a problem with this system. Many “real” reviews are being filtered out.

How Are Reviews Filtered?

Local search engines are beginning to employ more sophisticated review filters that target user characteristics.  Many reviews are filtered out based on the activity level of the user.  If they don’t have friends, a social circle, or don’t post reviews very often, they aren’t as credible as those who do.  The following are a few reasons why a user’s review may be filtered out:

  1. Review was sent from an on-site computer
  2. User has left one or very few reviews
  3. User has no profile
  4. User left a high frequency of reviews with a lull in between
  5. The review is extremely one-sided (positive or negative)
  6. User made it to the review page through an email
  7. User sent the same review on multiple platforms

How Do I Prevent My Reviews From Being Filtered?

In short, you can’t. However, you can try to get reviews taken out of the filter, as search engines constantly review previously filtered work. For businesses, the best way to do this is to engage the review and the reviewer. Connecting with them can influence the reliability of their profile and thus, their reviews as well. You can do this by adding the reviewer as a friend or to your circle, interacting with their posts, or rating their review as helpful.

For users creating reviews, having an active profile is key to making reviews “stick”.  Updating your profile image, writing reviews for numerous businesses over time, and making sure to create distinctive reviews when posting on different review sites will help characterize your profile as useful and trustworthy.

Future of Review Filters

Overall, review filters will continue to sort through reviews and may pull out legitimate ones. However, search engines are aware that there are problems with the algorithms being used. In a perfect world, they will be able to figure out a way to distinguish between accurate and false reviews with 100% certainty. In the mean time, focus on the reviews that are showing up and engage with your followers as much as possible. Respond to reviews, both negative and positive. Show those who love your business that you appreciate their response and let those who did not have the best experience know that you are listening.

Contributed by Claudette Linzey, JR. Internet Marketing Strategist

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