No. From time to time we hear this theory, often from those that have tried and failed to artificially inflate their ratings on Yelp. But the truth is there has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to alter reviews or ratings. Yelp exists to connect consumers with great local businesses and we work hard to feature content that reflects real experiences that consumers are inspired to share.
We use an automated recommendation software that analyzes billions of data points from all reviews, reviewers and businesses to evaluate the usefulness and reliability of each review. There’s no connection between the time a business starts, stops, or declines to advertise on Yelp, and how the recommendation software treats a business’s ratings and reviews. In fact, claims to the contrary have been repeatedly investigated and rejected by government agencies, in multiple courtrooms, by independent scholarly studies and in the media. The recommendation software applies the same objective standards to all businesses, meaning you'll find plenty of non-advertisers with five-star ratings, as well as advertisers with one-star reviews. No employee at Yelp has the ability to override the decisions that the software makes for any particular business. This approach is deliberate to avoid conflicts of interest.
Learn more about Yelp's recommendation software here, or watch this video for an overview of how our recommendation software works: