Yelp is no business’s favorite website, but in the modern online landscape, it’s impossible to avoid. So you really have two choices: be mad about it, or take some action to make Yelp as friendly as possible for your dealership. I can’t offer any perfect rule that will turn Yelp into your new bestie, but there are a few things you can do to make the whole thing a little friendlier.
- There’s a way to get deleted Yelp reviews back
Have you ever gotten a great review on Yelp only to find that it’s vanished somewhere into the bowels of the internet? It was five stars, it talked about your exceptional customer service, and raved about the vehicle you put them in, and now the entire review is just gone? It happens a lot.
Yelp’s primary goal is to aggregate what it believes are real reviews. It has a specific formula that it uses to make the determination, and that formula isn’t being shared. Think of it as the Colonel’s 11 herbs-and-spices blend—it’s a trade secret. While we don’t know precisely what the criteria it uses are, we do know a few things.
Real reviews come from real customers. Yelp is going to regard any account that isn’t complete with suspicion, and if such an account has only ever posted a single review, then it’s likely that review won’t be around long. If it’s a 1 star review, no problem. If it’s a 5 star rave, then you have an issue. All is not lost.
The first step is contacting the person that left the review. See if you can convince them to complete their profile, connect it to their Facebook, add a few friends, or, if nothing else, review a few more businesses. Even adding another couple of reviews can raise a formerly filtered review back from the dead. It’s worth noting that Yelp also prefers more detailed reviews to vague ones; the detailed reviews are far more likely to be real in the algorithm’s considered opinion.
- Keep an eye on your page
It’s a good idea to check in on your Yelp page once or twice a day. The first reason is one that loyal readers will already know: you should respond to every review, positive or negative. And regardless of the review itself, your response should be upbeat and constructive. If it’s a bad review, thank them and promise to improve. And give it a little bit of time—an immediate response is likely to stoke the same anger that inspired the review in the first place. Let the customer simmer down a bit. If it’s a rave, well, you should already know how to take a compliment.
There’s another solid reason to be vigilant on your Yelp page and it ties in with the problem of vanishing reviews. You have between 24-48 hours to legitimize a review that has been filtered. If it’s one of those raves, you need to strike while the iron is hot to get it back where it belongs.
- Even if the review gets filtered, all is not lost
Let’s say the reviewer wasn’t interested in legitimizing their account or didn’t do it fast enough to save that review. Contact the reviewer anyway and ask if you can use their review as a testimonial on your site. It’s not going to factor into your Yelp rating, but it’s a good way to keep from losing everything. It also gives your customer the sense of ownership and community, which is great for loyalty.
- Get some more reviews
While getting reviews is hardly an exact science, there are certain things you can do in order to push customers in the right direction. The simplest is to get one of those “Find Us On Yelp!” Stickers or cardboard stands to put on your front desk. While it’s second nature to review a restaurant, one might not think to do so for a car dealership, and a gentle reminder can’t hurt.
Another way is to offer a Yelp deal. These are deals posted directly on Yelp (and are not rewards offered for writing a review—you can’t do that). The purpose here is to target active Yelp users, who are the ones most likely to offer you a review, whether good or bad. Just make sure, with your competitive prices and attentive customer service, that there’s no way it’ll be a bad one.
- Don’t neglect your business page
While this should go without saying, your business page is yours. The first step is registering it, but there’s more. Think of your Yelp page as any of your social media outlets, and treat it as such. If you had a popular photo on your Instagram, think about reposting it over on Yelp. Whatever resonated with one crowd is likely to resonate with the other. Putting a human face on your dealership makes it likely that your customers will treat it with kindness.
Once you start looking at Yelp as a temperamental tool rather than an annoyance, you can start getting more out of it. It’s never going to be your favorite site, but it’s possible to change it into a moderately helpful new outlet.