Lessons To Be Learned From Yelp’s Algorithm Change, And How It May Affect Your Business

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With the help of Yelp reviews, thousands of small businesses have gained traction and visibility. As we all know by now, online reviews make the world go round. Simply put, online review platforms like Yelp makes it possible for little guys to compete with the big fish.

Brothers Raymond and Ron Amantia have certainly benefited from the Yelp reviews they’ve accumulated over the years. With over 49 five-star reviews for their plastering business, you’d think they’d be up to their ears in customers, and for a time they were.

But a shift in Yelp’s algorithm has caused the platform to work against them. You see, Yelp’s new algorithm was designed to track down solicited reviews and minimize their visibility. This should come as no surprise, especially after past sting operations (conducted by Yelp) has rooted out unscrupulous businesses that were caught red-handed paying for online reviews.

Yelp claims that solicited reviews “not only hurts consumers but also honest businesses who play by the rules.” As such, their algorithm has changed to guard against dishonest activity.

Unfortunately, Yelp’s algorithm caught Raymond and Ron in its net, and their business has suffered significantly because of it. Now, instead of 49 five-star reviews on their Yelp page, you can only see nine. The rest of their hard-earned reviews are hidden behind a “not currently recommended reviews” link. The link, by the way, is difficult to locate.

With just nine visible reviews, it’s easier for consumers to pass over their page in search of more “reputable” businesses. As a result, Raymond and Ron struggle to find work.

A flaw in the algorithm, but a step in the right direction

While outwardly this case seems like complete injustice for the parties involved, it also shows a step in the right direction for Yelp. The online reviewing platform has always been a force for good for small businesses. It’s also a place consumers can turn to in their everlasting quest for transparency.

Yelp’s algorithm was designed to weed out those who try to mislead consumers with false reviews.  With that being said, it obviously needs a few tweaks to avoid netting in innocent businesses like the Amantia brothers.

In today’s digital world, review sites are the lifeblood of businesses big and small. We, as consumers, have come to rely on them, and it’s clear that Yelp intends to keep its platform as transparent as possible. One can only hope that Yelp changes its algorithm to avoid mishaps like this from happening in the future.

Ultimately, there’s a lesson that all businesses can learn from this incident. One, Yelp may be introducing a trend that other review platforms may adopt for themselves, so you better play by the rules. Two, no matter what industry you’re in, online reviews are vital to the longevity of your business. Raymond and Ron are certainly justified in their outrage, and one can hope they get the justice they deserve.

It’s mere speculation at this point, but one can assume that as we move forward, Yelp will improve their algorithm along the way. Hopefully, Raymond and Ron were the only casualties in Yelp’s quest to provide complete transparency on its platform.

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