You know the feeling. That sinking feeling. You see you’ve got a new review, you pull it up expecting to see good things, and then bam! It’s a one-star bombshell. And then the disappointment grows when you realize the poor feedback has been shared on Yelp.

With over 31 million app users and millions more web visitors, Yelp is a platform with a high level of visibility. A poor experience amplified on Yelp can have immediate fallout and impact your bottom line.

Yelp’s own research suggests that 90% of Yelp users make a purchase within seven days of visiting the platform, so you’ll need to act quickly to protect your business.

So can you delete a Yelp review? The good news is that ‘yes it can be done’ (mostly), but with a caveat that users can’t do it themselves. It takes a little work and know-how, so either skip straight to the steps, or read on to find out more about bad reviews and the Yelp platform first.

Why You May Need to Remove a Bad Review

Whether a review is a fair assessment of a customer’s experience or not, any poor review is potentially problematic because peer feedback is so intrinsic to the modern decision-making process.

Today’s consumers use reviews to:

  • Create shortlists of businesses to buy from
  • Compare and contrast potential product/service providers
  • Decide between businesses offering the same thing
  • Weed out businesses that may provide a disappointing experience

Consumers reading positive reviews are more likely to interact with that business—by visiting the website (31%), traveling to the business location (17%), or contacting the business (12%).

Conversely, negative reviews make 92% of consumers less likely to use a business. Removing fake or malicious reviews can therefore have a very tangible real-world impact.

Yelp and Fake Reviews

The Harvard Business Review says there is a “large and thriving market” for fake reviews. Given that reviews not only influence consumers and sales figures but also search engine rankings, it’s no surprise that they’re big business.

As a real-life example, data cited as part of a 10-month study of restaurant reviews suggests that Yelp filters out about 16% of reviews as ‘being fake’ with its own algorithm. That leaves a high proportion of risk for local business owners in that industry.

Yelp also says that it is a “community-driven site” and doesn’t take the removal of third-party content such as images or reviews lightly. It also says it won’t take sides in factual disputes.

Clearly, it’s not a cut-and-dried process, so the best thing to do is to approach the review as genuine, whilst also looking for any evidence that it’s fake or malicious.

1. Responding to bad Yelp reviews

The temptation will be to rush in quickly with a strongly-worded reply. Resist that temptation!

Poorly worded review responses can quickly create a negative impression of your business and put other customers off using you. In the worst-case scenario, they could also go viral, creating exactly the kind of publicity you don’t want for your business.

You’ll need to keep a cool head, and show that you’ve tried addressing the bad review in a constructive and professional way.

  • If you have a record of that customer, try connecting with them offline to fully understand the issues that led to the poor review.
  • If you can’t find contact information, leave a (very) polite reply thanking the customer for their feedback, assure them that you wish to investigate further, and invite them to reach out so that you can work towards a resolution.

For a genuinely negative experience, this should impress the reviewer with your commitment to putting things right, allowing you to ask them to update (or even delete) the original review to give a more balanced opinion.

We’ve put together an article on dealing with negative reviews like a pro.

2. Deleting a malicious Yelp review

If the above fact-finding mission fails, then take comfort in knowing you’re now in a stronger position to report the review to Yelp as being false, defamatory or malicious in nature.

Yelp has clear guidelines governing reviews left on its site. It specifies that reviews:

  • Should not be exchanged for payment
  • Should be based on the reviewer’s own first-hand experience
  • Should be factually correct
  • Should not be based on previous brand interactions
  • Should not be promotional
  • Should not represent a conflict of interest (leaving a positive review for a friend’s business or a negative review of a competitor for example)

Start with “Should be factually correct”. Collate as much information from your business records as you can, including your documented attempts to address their concerns as genuine.

See if you can prove that the review has a clear conflict of interest, such as a review left by a disgruntled former employee or a competitor.

Highlight any examples of inappropriate material, such as threats, hate speech, or harassment—either in the original review or in subsequent communications.

You can now skip to the step-by-step process of requesting a review removal from Yelp.

3. Deleting a fake Yelp review

As noted above, fake reviews are big business in some corners of the internet, and they’re a pain to investigate if there’s no genuine information to cross-reference within your business.

Instead, make a strong case for removal by gathering evidence to present to Yelp:

  1. Dig into your client records to verify that they’re not a genuine customer. This shows that they’re in violation of Yelp’s requirement that all reviews relate to that person’s own experience of your business.
  2. Take a look at how many other reviews that person has left and for what businesses. A brand new account with just your review is a strong indicator that it’s fake.
  3. Study the language and tone of the review. Is this mirrored on other reviews posted at the same time? If so, it could be a part of a wider fake review campaign.
  4. Check if you have a series of other bad reviews, posted at the same time but by different usernames. This is a common tactic used by fake review spammers.

Once you’ve collected enough evidence of fakery to present to Yelp moderators, you’re ready to submit your request.

How to Get a Yelp Review Removed

Here’s the nitty-gritty of how to remove bad reviews from Yelp—and always keep in mind that the more evidence you can present here the better.

Step 1 – Claim your Yelp business profile

If you’ve not done so already, then the first step to remove Yelp reviews is to claim your Yelp business profile.

This is easy to do—go to Yelp For Business and follow the steps outlined. This Yelp blog post also provides more detailed instructions if you need help with this essential step.

Step 2 – Log in and find the review

Log into your Yelp business account. From your dashboard, navigate to “Reviews” and then scroll down to find the review you’re asking Yelp to remove.

Step 3 – Go to the “Report review” button

You’ll see three dots to the side of the review text. Click on those dots to pull up a menu and from there, select “Report review”.

Step 4 – Complete the form

Select the most appropriate reason for requesting the Yelp review removal, and complete the form with as much information as possible. It will then be reviewed by the platform’s Moderators.

Step 5 – Be patient!

Now comes the hard part…the wait! Yelp will inform you of the outcome of their investigation, and in the event that the Yelp review is removed, the original author will also be notified.

This process can take up to a week, but either way, you should be notified of the result. If you don’t hear anything, then contact Yelp directly with your case number to try and secure an update.

What if the Yelp Review Isn’t Removed?

Yelp may not uphold your complaint. If that’s the case, then the negative review will remain on your profile.

While this is frustrating, your best course of action is to learn what you can from the feedback so that future reviews will be more positive.

Our complete guide to building positive reviews is packed with tips, strategies and advice to help you do just that.

Got any tips on how to remove reviews from Yelp? Let the community know in our comments section below.