The reality of Yelp and other review systems

Services for Real Estate Pros with Agent Reputation

I just posted an article on how to get negative Yelp reviews removed. I then read all of the responses up till now and some of them trashed Yelp. I decided to write up a post to share with the group.

1) Yelp wants ACTIVE Yelpers to be organically motivated to leave reviews. This is why you never send out a blast to the multitudes asking for Yelp reviews because their “Gate Keeper” algorithm will see a cluster of reviews coming in within a short period of time, which tells them you sent out a blast. They don’t like that. It’s not to say you can’t ask people for Yelp reviews one on one, but they have to be ACTIVE Yelpers.

2) Yelp knows when new consumer accounts are created. It knows 5 minutes later a Yelp review was left from a new account, never to be heard from again. This is also to protect you from haters, consumers you never did business with or ex-employees.

3) You can’t game the system. Just getting friends and leaving 20 reviews, if done over a short period of time will not qualify that person as an active Yelper. Too much, too soon. And do you think asking your client to jump through a bunch of hoops just so that their review will be on top respects their time? An active Yelper not only has a profile image and friends, but they need the Yelp app on their phone. They need a history of checking in from businesses like restaurants and leaving reviews over a period of time. Once Yelp sees a credible history, that review they placed under the line may be moved to the active section. I am an active Yelper.

4) The Yelp conspiracy is a nothingburger. There were a number of over zealous sales people back in the day that would lead you to believe if you did not buy their advertising, your good reviews would be pushed down. That was never company policy. Some still try the pitch from time to time but you need to call their bluff and report them. The FTC investigated and took no action. And there are ways to get bad Yelp reviews removed as noted in an article I pointed out above.

5) You can hate Yelp but you really need to embrace Yelp. Sure you can choose not to establish a Yelp page for your business and focus on other review systems, but it can also be a major source for leads. I know many agents that get leads regularly from Yelp. And if you acquire a good amount of Yelp reviews, that is the time to advertise. And, Yelp uses the gold star system which helps in making your online reviews look more rounded.

6) Claim your Yelp or Google account. If you have not established a Yelp business page or Google business page, sometimes they create them on their own from business license databases. I am not a fan of this at all because people can still leave reviews on unclaimed business pages. You can always get them removed but it is better to claim them, add accurate information and be proactive to get 5 star reviews.

7) Google is great. It is safe to assume if the largest search engine in the world has a review system, you should probably pay attention to it. Make sure people write out a full review and not just leave a star rating. The more experiential content the better. Same goes with Yelp. They rate the reviews on experiential content and the amount of words used. If you do not have a Google business page, go here to create one. This places you in the Google business directory and you could wind up in the “three pack” on page one of Google for Realtor search results.

8) Google has a gate keeper as well. If the individual signs up for Google+ just to leave you a review and is never heard from again, the review might get ghosted or moved down the list. Organics is important.

9) Facebook has a gold star system that will show up in the search results. Just about everybody has a Facebook account and it is usually active on their phone or computer. Facebook is always the fallback if your clients are not Yelpers or Google members. In addition, it’s harder to leave fake reviews on Facebook.

10) If you are a Zillow Premier Agent and/or buying leads and you don’t have a competitive amount of Zillow reviews for your market, you are not the shiny penny.

11) Be proactive. I know of agents that prep the buyer/seller for future reviews in the beginning of their relationships. As in, (paraphrasing), “when we get this done I am going to ask you to leave me some online reviews” and then asking again while the client is doing the happy dance at the conclusion of the transaction. That’s pretty much it. I figured it would be easier to write in a post vs just responding to the comments in my last post.

Comments (23)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I don't want any comments on my listing by the public...

Sep 26, 2018 08:09 PM
CJ Hays

I have no clue what that means

Sep 26, 2018 09:56 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I am reminded (years ago) of the time I got booted out of yelp...It came out of nowhere & the parting arrow was I violated their small print. This was/is a negative leading by example lesson. Swift punitive action on a consumer inviting site is a forked tongue at work. My time is important too and there is no small print conditions on it either. 

Sep 27, 2018 06:30 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening CJ Hays,

What an awesome post! Thank you for the detailed explanation on how Yelp works as well as other review systems. Great advice on navigating the system and why we need to embrace Yelp.

Sep 27, 2018 06:35 PM
CJ Hays

Embrace Yelp or get eaten by Yelp if you are not proactive

Sep 27, 2018 07:32 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I’ve seen a lot of fake reviews And I do have a friend who has been asked to write fake reviews. It’s really a shame. That’s just one of the things that we now have to look out for

Sep 27, 2018 11:49 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I would say that it works pretty well compared to other things as I was just saying, Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR

Sep 27, 2018 11:51 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

This is interesting information about Yelp and Google. I claimed a google business page but have done nothing with it because they won't let me use my business email address as a contact. I had set up a gmail email years ago and I never use it and they won't let me change it to my real email address. A little frustrating but when I get some time, I'll see if I can resolve that.

Sep 28, 2018 04:04 AM
CJ Hays

Have you given Google Business your Brokerage street address on Main St as you have on your website? They would then send you a post card with a code on it. Reach out to me and I will walk you through it.

Sep 28, 2018 08:12 AM
Kat Palmiotti

CJ Hays - I can't use my brokerage street address because it's in another county where I don't service buyers/sellers (long story) and I don't want to show up as being in that town/county. So I picked the other option to say I provide services in a specific area.

Sep 29, 2018 04:18 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I see some of our local big companies with lots of reviews.... all from their own agents

Sep 28, 2018 09:30 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I am a fan of yelp and use it a lot when searching for businesses.  I just like to participate and don't expect to get business myself, but perhaps I should change that attitude.

Sep 28, 2018 12:33 PM
Suzanne Cutler
SUCCESS! Real Estate - Braintree, MA
617-549-5829 Braintree, MA Realtor, Real Estate

I don't use yelp myself so thank you for explaining how it works.

I was called for a listing appointment and they mentioned they found me because of my yelp review.    And yes, I did get the listing.

Sep 28, 2018 08:40 PM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Thanks for the info. I have not done anything with Yelp, because in general I have found their reviews worthless! Maybe I am missing something, but the reviews I read of other things on Yelp seem to be mostly negative! I have always thought of it as a place people go to Bitch about things. I gave up reading their reviews several years ago! I would like to hear your thoughts on the value of Yelp

Sep 29, 2018 05:15 AM
CJ Hays

My client Chris Patrick in Las Vegas has been in either the number 1 or 2 postion on Yelp for a year now. He has 67 5 Star reviews. He gets leads from Yelp weekly. And of course the gold stars show up all over the place online. If you embrace it and do it right it can be a game changer.

Sep 29, 2018 11:54 AM
Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp
SLS Home Inspections-Kankakee Will Iroquois Grundy Counties - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

This is a hot button in Home Inspection circles for sure. Lots of issues with sellers that leave bad reviews when they weren't even the client. Hard to get removed. I've not had to deal with a bogus one but if I did, I try and just bury them with legit real reviews. 

Sep 29, 2018 05:32 AM
CJ Hays

Home inspection reviews are like property management reviews so yes you have to get every positive review you can across the board. Kind of like a shiza sandwich. The more bread, the less shiza yoiu have to eat. Just remember if you use Yeap. ONLY have ACTIVE Yelpers leave reviews

Sep 29, 2018 11:56 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

My Yelp reviews have brought me new customers--it's important to have a presence there but you are correct--a client can't just create an account to leave a review. I read your previous blog too--very helpful!

Oct 01, 2018 01:57 PM
CJ Hays


Oct 03, 2018 04:16 PM
Mike Baltierra
Rise Realty - Eastvale, CA
Full Service at Your Service Realtor-Eastvale CA

That's alot of good information. Appreciate it. Yelp is very interesting.

Nov 02, 2018 07:28 AM


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