Why aren’t my consumer reviews visible?

by Nick Nichols, 5-Star Online Reputation Marketing Expert

Getting legitimate reviews to be visible at Google+ and Yelp is becoming more and more difficult. Despite what Google and Yelp say publicly – that they want to deliver relevant content to their users – including reviews – they seem to be covertly trying to undermine that mission.

In Yelp’s case, I believe they are deliberately sabotaging local businesses by suppressing positive reviews and placing them in their so-called "filter. " I have a client with 37 positive reviews in the filter and a single, visible, one-star review. In order to see the filtered reviews users must first find and click on the obscure “Filtered Results” link at the bottom of the page, and then they must enter a long, hard-to-decipher Captcha code to see the reviews. How does hiding legitimate reviews – positive or negative – help users make informed buying decisions? Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) Yelp’s predatory business practices will get national attention and they will be forced to change their ways.

In Google’s case, I believe they haven’t quite figured out how Google+ and its associated entities, such as Maps and Local Listings (formerly Places) should integrate with each other. As a result of this much-publicized confusion, consumers and business owners are left adrift and frustrated.

In both cases, business owners need to understand that neither Google nor Yelp is their friend. Neither makes money from displaying free business listings and consumer reviews. They make their money selling advertising. They provide content (listings, reviews, etc.) to attract eyeballs, not for philanthropic reasons. The harder they make it for consumers to use their free services, the easier it becomes for consumers to use their paid services – such as Google’s Adwords and Yelp’s paid inclusion program. It’s quite a racket.

We’ve developed two very effective weapons to counteract both Google and Yelp and beat them at their own game: customer/client review hub mini-websites and short, keyword-specific video clips that appear above the Google+ Local and Yelp listings. Since these hubs and video clips contain only positive references, they divert attention from other listings and can cancel the effect of negative references altogether.