A negative review on Yelp can be devastating for your business if it is the first or second result that people see on Google. This happened to one of our clients, a Houston, TX law firm. The law firm was losing business fast, in spite of a “US News Best Lawyers” profile sitting at position #9 in the SERPs.
Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove a review on Yelp, even if you can prove that the review is fake or malicious. They generally only remove the reviews if you can prove they violated the terms of service. That’s very difficult to do.
Fortunately, most people don’t go straight to Yelp, or any other third party review site, to find out about a business. They go to Google. And if they don’t see the negative result on Google then it’s virtually non-existent.
Purchasing Alternative Domain Names
Our client had an abbreviated domain name for their primary website. This created an opportunity. Fortunately, a domain name which spelled out the entire law firm name was still available.
We purchased the domain name and put up a second website, one with unique content. This outranked the Yelp result for the law firm’s name in just 4 days.
Takeaway: Purchase your own domain so that you can control it. Look for variations and purchase those, too.
Targeting Company Databases
The next step was to look for relevant, high-quality company databases where our clients were not already listed. Creating listings here didn’t require any particular “hype,” backlink manipulation or tricks. These sites already ranked naturally in Google.
Instead, these sites only required us to make a fair and descriptive entry for our client’s business. Since these directories rank well it was no surprise to find the Crunch Base listing in the #4 position within two weeks. The Yelp review was still visible by then, but it had fallen to position #9, where many people were already missing it.
Takeaway: If you can legitimately place your company in a popular directory, do so. Many of them will not expose your company to problematic reviews, and they rank rather well.
Launching Social Media Accounts
Our client had a Facebook page but they weren’t taking advantage of all of the social networks. We added them to Twitter, as well, and their Twitter profile became one of the results that pushed Yelp right off the first page. In 30 days the Yelp review was all but invisible.
Takeaway: Having a social media presence isn’t just about what you tweet or re-tweet, though of course you want to be mindful of how your interaction with these sites makes you look. It’s also important because it gives you a SERPs listing that ranks well and that you exercise at least some control over.
The Bottom Line: You’re not helpless in the face of Yelp or any other third-party review site. Don’t waste a lot of time fighting with these sites or worrying about them. Worry about controlling your own SERPs, instead.
Carmen Rane Hudson is a writer for www.InternetReputation.com who specializes in writing about online reputation management, SEO, local SEO, social media, sales, and marketing.