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How to Remove Unacceptable Yelp Reviews

I hear this question frequently from our clients and prospects; “How do we get rid of outrageous reviews that are lies, slander, defamation, or out of bounds with the guidelines of Yelp?” Answer? Submit a request for removal especially if the review isn’t compliant with the Yelp guidelines.

At least a third of the dealers I speak with come across bitter with just one mention of Yelp.  Some of them might be throwing down their own gavel as Yelp is back on court over alleged extortion and review manipulating. Angry Business Owners Appeal Yelp Ruling Over Alleged Extortion  

Yelp says “Inappropriate content: Colorful language and imagery is fine, but there's no need for threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, and other displays of bigotry.”

What is even more disturbing is when you engage a disgruntled Yelper (could be a competitor smearing) to resolve the issue and all you get is another visceral low blow or flat out silence. Reacting with an attack against the offender is natural, but I would advise dealers to step back, stop defending it, and consider a request for removal rather than engaging in a nasty verbal salsa with a bitter enemy. Search engines love the dirt and the more you respond to belligerence, the higher the debate will rank for your dealership name.

One of our clients once asked, “Can you help me get a Yelp review removed?” He shared his feelings of defeat; “The owner of the dealership has been personally attacked and it’s destroying our reputation and we’re losing business.”

I told him the review was ludicrous; falling within Yelp’s inappropriate content guideline and he didn’t have to tolerate it. Here’s the Yelp review that was on the web for only a month and did significant brand damage.

The Consumer Yelp Review

The removal submission to Yelp from our client

The "review" that XXX has left our dealership is not only extremely far from an accurate account of her attempted transaction, but is a blatantly published defamation of our dealership’s character and slander. We are a locally owned business for over 30 years and our owner, XXX, is a former recipient of the "XXXX" award. For "XXX" to name my salesperson and call him a "Racist Idiot" is nothing short of slander and is an embarrassment to my salesperson and his family and to YELP for allowing such verbal abuse to occur on your site. [Dealer Name] works extremely hard in encouraging our customers to leave reviews on sites such as YELP because of the relevancy and authenticity of your reviews. However, this particular review is neither authentic or relevant and most of all it is defamation and slander. XXX other reviews also need looked at. They are also racially motivated and distasteful. We ask that you please remove this immediately.

Response from Yelp within 24 hours


We have removed the review by XXXXX because it falls outside our Content Guidelines. Please keep in mind that if the user chooses to edit their review so that it falls within our guidelines, we will allow it to remain on the site.

Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Yelp Official Blog |
Yelp Frequently Asked Questions |
Yelp for Business Owners |

A huge victory for our client considering Yelp is not easily swayed in favor of the dealer. With dealers becoming more and more aware that Yelp dominates the mobile experience for iPhone users, now is the time to make the move to get content removed. If you’re not challenging defamatory reviews and instead, engaging in war, that’s like throwing cotton balls at a moving train.

If you’re wondering if filtered reviews on your Yelp listing are unjust and ludicrous, check out The Definitive Guide To Avoid the Yelp Review Filter

Yelp can help you submit your removal request

Jerry Hart

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Many dealerships today view online reputation management as a reactive job of monitoring social media and product reviews and then responding to them to make certain customers know that they care.  Proactive reputation building is where you want to be today.

The reputation of your dealer or your reputation as an expert is a precarious thing. Any negative press about your dealership or a new product or service can spread online like an STD, so it’s imperative to make the most of all the positive content you do have. It is also important to proactively protect not only the dealer reputation, but that of each vehicle brand or service repair or part you represent.

Get the Good Word OUT!

I suggest you first gather all the positive dealership content and about each product or service you offer.  Positive content could include but is not limited to:

  •     testimonials / reviews
  •     success stories
  •     give back to the community stories
  •     results of survey or trial
  •     case studies
  •     certifications and other marks of quality

Continually strive to get more positive content that can be maximized for the benefit of the dealers online reputation. You know it's critical to be proactive and build positive reviews that boost your local search score and ranking.

Publicizing Positive Content
What’s critical is syndicating your content online in as many places as possible so it shows up in the first page of search results. A great place to publish content with one click of a button to social networks is

Testimonials that are as Real as they Get!...on your website
For the most believable testimonials, create an image from your 3rd party review sites, such as Yelp,
Google Local, etc. Meaning, take a screen shot of your customer reviews from 3rd party review sites and place those on your website. Testimonials copied than pasted to your testimonial website page is much more believable to a visitor than testimonials published by the company who owns the website.  I’m shocked when companies only publish raving testimonials with all 5 stars. Is this really a trustworthy dealership when I see no negative feedback or interaction with unsatisfied customers? Also incorporate testimonials into your social media strategy with links to this page. Publish them in press releases, articles, and other online and offline materials.”

Next, set up a Press, Media, or News page
Got a big announcement? Toot your horn with a simple press release (success stories are the best) and publish it first on your corporate or business news website page. This way, all other online press releases will link back to the original content on the corporate website as the source of the information.

Most important! Success stories illustrate how your dealership has helped an individual struggling with a problem. If your dealership is married to the community and gives back then broadcast it all over your social networks. The pay it forward good deeds go viral so fast and build a dealers online reputation with the power of storytelling, while appealing to a different segment of your target audience.

Jerry Hart

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After speaking with my peeps at Google here in the San Francisco Bay Area, a tsunami wave of reality is on its way to the auto industry shores.

If you want to use an IPad in the dealership to generate reviews, reconsider. Is that truly the more candid and truthful approach to building reviews? I’ve heard some instances where the sales rep is coaching the customer over their shoulder while the customer submits to a 3rd party review site from the IPad?

Google’s algorithms frown on customer reviews posted from the same IP day after day and consider this not “validated content”. Use an IPad from the same IP day after day and your SEO ranking will be compromised and consumer alerts potentially slapped temporarily on your 3rd party review accounts.

Their is a wave of consumer sentiment that will revolutionize dealership Online Reputation Management current practices. Here’s what I mean…

You want accurate reviews or validated content. Consumers are beginning to sniff out reviews that are veneer and fabricated and even worse, do not publish at the moment the consumer clicks to publish. I know I'm skeptical when my negative review is not published when I click submit. Validated means reviews on a 3rd party review site that are controlled by the consumer with no publishing delays or mediation time for the dealer to filter, alter or delete the reviews. For negative reviews we see that once posted, a manager response was later visible with the original consumer review unchanged.

The public has already begun shouting how a dealership in their community has manipulated the public and do not have their best interest at heart.  The majority of ORM tools today with the right sized payment of cash to the OEM, allow dealerships to manipulate and filter reviews. Essentially dealers are not being transparent and truthful when they delay, embellish, alter, filter, and delete reviews or simply not publish at the time the consumer clicked ‘submit’. 

When are America’s dealership decision makers going to face the brutal reality that the public will defeat the sly dishonesty of review practices used by dealers to protect the dealership interests, not the customer? The public is becoming more suspect and are onto the scent that the company that they wanted to buy from has manipulated the process of getting positive reviews and have altered their dissatisfaction with that respective brand.

Did we forget the stigma our industry faces with public perception of dealerships as crooks? Are we perpetuating the stigma of car dealers who bait and switch for profit propelling the stereotype that the auto industry is dishonest?

The Dealership Site Reviews
Consumers will not completely rule out a dealer site as not credible, perhaps only if all the testimonials and reviews are positive.  I’m just saying, some dealerships are only populating positive reviews with 0 negative. This is hardly believable, and extremely out of touch with what consumers will start demanding of dealerships they want to buy from in the future. The trend of consumer sentiment will continue to ostracize the dealers that project anything inauthentic. The public demands and respects what their peers say about a dealer much more than a dealer’s website review page or a review site that’s littered with manipulated reviews.

The same concept applies to the American media today.  Tomorrow at the Thanksgiving table, Uncle John’s opinion will be much more believable than any article I can read in the Wall Street Journal. In a world where small is big, respected bloggers, relatives and friends are more of an authority than the wavering media establishment.  In this analogy, the dealerships website is the Wall Street Journal.

When a consumer viral truth telling explosion online happens, expect a paradigm shift. Just like any other wave of consumers that force the hand of an industry to be honest and stop altering reviews to get a higher rating; this will be no different. 

As we prepare for the shift, are you building REAL reviews?  Is the customers IP the safest most SEO compliant place to ask for a review? Yes!.

Are you emailing a follow up message with options to either post positive or share their complaint directly with you?

Are you willing to ask the question everyday via email and then fix what's broken at the dealership?

Do you own deep down in your gut that the most powerful brand loyalty building tool is your response to negative whether one on one or on 3rd party review sites for all to see?

When a customer complains, isn't this benefiting the dealership to improve quality assurance AND securing employees that exceed expectations and over deliver? The winning sales performers will squeeze out slackers that think they can hide behind their half-'assed customer service.

You can't body block cranky customers from posting negative reviews or alter them. You have one special moment to intercept unsatisfied customers before days pass and they start banging on their keypad to diss your brand across the web. You can respond for all to see but why not stop it to fix it at the pass shortly after they made a visit to the dealer? Your customer survey is surely OK, but no where near how effective you could be with the option to have complaints heard by you first or in that very moment, if happy, a positive review published from the customers IP.

Start asking for feedback and encourage a customer to post a review from an automated organic drip” email following the customer purchase from the customers IP.  Will you ever know for sure all of the rules of ORM? Don't think so, but you can count on a review building conduit that deters manipulation and propels radical transparency.

Jerry Hart


Ask a Question: jerry(at)erepbuilder(dot)com
For more information, visit

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I asked General Managers and Internet/BDC Directors at Digital Dealer, why Online Reputation Management is on the front burner for 2013.

Response I wanted to hear more and did not:

Google’s algorithms are aggressively measuring the amount and authenticity of positive and negative reviews, impacting your overall SEO score with Google. Online reviews appear with every Google search.
I need a solution PRONTO!

Common Responses:

1) Our reputation is everything and my competition seems to be doing better in the online review internet game.

2) With Siri and Yelp in bed together the stakes are even higher to get moving.

3) I need a solution to generate more reviews on a regular basis and be proactive at catching unhappy customers before they post a poor review.

4) We don’t have a plan to get to the source of the problem of what’s going on that’s generating those bad reviews.


1) ORM algorithms will drastically affect your SEO rankings.

2) Businesses who want to win in the search results will encourage customers authentically to post fresh feedback to their preferred reviews sites on a regular basis.

3) ORM will shift the dealership’s operational culture in terms of the increased volume of handling unsatisfied customers by rectifying the situation with those affected, making certain that the customer service or product failings that generated them are fixed.

4) Dealerships with no online reviews or only negative may be losing valuable customers.
You have the option to automate ORM by pulling closed R.O’s and closed sales from the DMS.

5) Automated emails that offer options to post positive or complain directly to you is fully integrated, simplified and compliant with blacklisting rules.

6) Steer the Conversation and reply to negative posts and interact with reviewers to create a more positive brand image. You’re more believable when you make an effort to understand and respond to unhappy customers.

7) If your business has no online reviews or only has negative reviews, then you may be losing valuable customers.

eReputationBUILDER adds juice to your SEO ranking by making sure that the positive reviews and constructive feedback shows up when our clients are searched, and that the false and inflammatory comments are suppressed in searches so no one can find them.

We automate ORM, pulling closed R.O’s and closed sales from the DMS everynight sending a video email that encourages positive reviews with active links to highly ranked review sites and intercepts complaints. 

Jerry Hart

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Yelp's Kharma Police will be citing Dealerships

Some dealership decision makers may not be aware that Yelp has 78 million monthly visitors and Yelp is now Yelp'ing that 78 million visitors “can be a strong incentive for some businesses to try to game the system.”

I’ve heard first hand from dealerships the audacious truth of how they game Yelp, then wonder why they can’t get customer reviews published. Dealerships have been known to inflate their ratings with glowing testimonials submitted by friends and employees.

The stakes just went up again! They should. Up to 40% of online reviews are sketchy, according to experts.

The San Francisco-based website, which already tries to filter out dubious reviews, said it will now start posting visible consumer alerts on websites suspected of soliciting reviews-for-hire to boost ratings.

The alerts will stay up for at least 90 days – longer if the suspicious activity continues, according to Yelp.

Users, many of whom consider Yelp to be the last word on whether a business is worth visiting, can click on the alerts for more details.

Yelp also said it will start informing visitors when a business has a slew of reviews posted from the same computer – often a red flag for inauthentic reviews.

My suggestion? Integrate an online management solution that proactively builds "REAL" reviews and STOPS negative ones.

The one missing major takeaway from Yelp’s announcement is…

Review sites with too much negative feedback or dealerships not found on highly ranked review sites will be moved down the Google search stack and compromise their competitive advantage.

Even more reason to encourage customers to post positive feedback on highly ranked review sites from their computer and also make a gentle request to share directly to key internal contacts IF they are unsatisfied

Plus, leverage every customer touch point and follow up with communication incentivizing them to tell you directly they are unsatisfied or passively encourage posting positive feedback on review sites.

Eric Singley, vice president of the site’s consumer products and mobile division said because of Yelp’s clout, “some businesses will go to extreme lengths to bolster their reviews.”

Auto consumers seem addicted to peer review sites such as Yelp, Google Local, CarHelp, DealerRater and more. Good web reviews now weigh so heavily on spending decisions that satire group the Onion recently spoofed the phenomenon with an article titled “Brave Woman Enters Restaurant Without First Looking It Up Online.”

Jerry Hart

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Look at all the conversation online about you and your dealership. That point alone reiterates to all of us that dealerships don’t necessarily own their brand. The consumer owns the brand.  Monitoring online comments helps us understand the consumer perception of our brand and, if necessary, make changes to our communications efforts.

There are proactive measures that you should take BEFORE a negative review is posted about your dealership. Not only do you need to constantly encourage your customers to post positive reviews about the dealership, you need to ensure that each customer was completely satisfied with their experience.

The dealerships who proactively short circuits negative reviews and encourages positive reviews shortly after the customer visits the dealership won't have to worry down the road why they waited to long to come to us.

Schedule an eReputationBUILDER Demo

It's only when it becomes a real issue and starts costing companies in lost sales and damaging their reputation do they normally come to us. It's much easier and cheaper if you come to us before issues arise, taking a preventive measure will help not only protect your brand but also stop unscrupulous competitors taking your space or even worse, getting negative content high up in the search results.

Make or Break time for dealerships

With the proliferation of user-generated content online, the online reputation of businesses are being tarnished by incorrect and misleading posts or comments that can stay on the Internet forever. One post by a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer can have a damaging effect on your company’s image, as well as sales.

The thing to keep in mind is that online reputation management is one of those things that works better if you implement it before you actually need it.

Did you know….
• 62% of consumers surveyed said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews about a product or service.***

• Dealerships are expected to spend $100 million on tech tools or platforms to monitor customer opinions on the Web over the next year, more than double the spending in the past 12 months, according to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., media-research firm.

• YELP! About 27 million user-generated reviews were posted on the site between January and March, up 59% from the same period a year earlier, according to Yelp’s most recent quarterly report.

• Google says on its official blog that businesses can reduce the visibility of negative content about them by “proactively publishing useful, positive information.”

By Jerry Hart

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