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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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