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How we moderate content at Yelp

Safeguarding content through a human touch

We believe reviews that represent a wide range of voices and opinions are relevant and helpful to the community.

Our User Operations team, which operates separately from the Customer Success team, is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the content our community posts on Yelp. When a community member, business owner, or our automated systems alert us about a potential issue, a member of our team will manually review the case. This is a separate process from the operation of Yelp’s recommendation software, which is automated.

We are committed to showcasing helpful and reliable Yelp user experiences throughout the platform. Our User Operations team continuously seeks out, investigates, and stops fraudulent and inappropriate activity through a variety of techniques, including removing users engaged in deceptive behaviors from the Yelp platform.

If you are suspicious of a review that’s currently on your page, we encourage you to report it to our moderators for evaluation.

Before you report a critical review

Critical reviews are a normal part of owning a business. How you handle them can have a big impact on your reputation.

People will naturally form an opinion about your business and it can be difficult to accept when it’s a critical one. Before you report a review, consider if the review constitutes tough feedback that can help you improve or if you truly believe the review violates our Content Guidelines.

Tips for responding to critical reviews

If you need extra support, we’ve got your back with some tips and guidance for how to handle critical reviews on your page:
Respond in a professional manner

Yelp allows business owners to respond to reviews publicly. Take this opportunity to address the customer's concerns, and if appropriate, offer a solution or explanation. Remember, you’re not just writing for the reviewer—you’re writing for potential clients and customers too. 86% of respondents say they’re more likely to look past a business’s critical reviews if they demonstrate their commitment to customer service by responding and adequately addressing the issue. How you respond when something goes wrong can show others that you’re committed to great customer service, and can go a long way towards building consumer trust. Learn more about responding to reviews.

Take the conversation offline

If possible, offer to take the conversation offline and resolve the issue directly. This can show the customer that you take their feedback seriously and are willing to work with them to find a solution.

Learn from the feedback

However you’re feeling, take a step back and remember that, at the end of the day, reviews are an opportunity to learn more about your customers and improve your business. No business is perfect—and your potential customers know that, too! The occasional critical review is expected as you can’t please everyone. The important thing is to pay attention to bigger themes you’re seeing in those reviews to identify areas for improvement.


Removing reviews

Yelp won’t remove a critical review after it is reported unless it clearly violates our Content Guidelines. We don’t typically take sides in factual disputes and generally allow Yelp users to stand behind their reviews. We do this to ensure every Yelp user has a voice to share their experiences - positive or critical - and to ensure we’re a trustworthy platform for your potential customers.

In addition, you can’t remove reviews from your business page yourself. If Yelp users believed businesses could manipulate the reviews on their page, they probably wouldn’t trust that business or Yelp.

We stand firmly on this policy and make no exceptions to the rules. We won’t alter or remove reviews because they contain criticisms. While we know it’s not always a popular approach, this firm commitment to consumer trust is what keeps potential customers coming back to our platform each day.

How to report reviews that violate Yelp’s guidelines

To make Yelp a useful and safe platform for everyone, our policies prohibit conflicts of interest, hearsay, irrelevancy, or hateful content. Help us keep our community safe by reporting reviews that violate our Content Guidelines:

  • The reviewer has an apparent conflict of interest (former employee, affiliated with the business, promoting a competitor, etc.)
  • The review doesn’t reflect an actual firsthand customer experience with the business
  • The review contains inappropriate content such as hate speech, harassment, or private information about employees or customers

Read our full Content Guidelines

Once a review is reported, our moderators will evaluate it and send you an email letting you know their decision. Keep in mind that simply reporting a review does not guarantee its removal.

How to respond to any review

Responding to reviews on your Yelp business page is an important way to engage with your customers, address any concerns or complaints, and showcase your business's commitment to customer satisfaction.

As a business owner, you can respond to reviews in three ways. Note you must be logged into your Yelp Business Account to do so:

  1. Public comment: A public comment is a response to a reviewer that is visible to everyone on your Yelp page. We believe it's a good idea to respond to reviews with a public comment whenever possible, addressing the reviewer's concerns and thanking them for taking the time to provide their feedback. This demonstrates your commitment to customer service and builds trust with potential customers.
  2. Direct message: A direct message is a message that you can send to the reviewer. It's not visible to other Yelp users, and it's a way to address any concerns or complaints that the reviewer may not want to share publicly. Direct messages can be a good way to resolve issues with customers discreetly, and they can also help to build a more personal connection with the reviewer.
  3. Thank the reviewer: This is a quick way to show appreciation for a 4 or 5 star review left by a customer. Simply click the Thank the Reviewer button to send a note only visible to the reviewer thanking them for their feedback.

Tips for crafting your response

Craft the right response for your business by following a few general guidelines:
Thank the reviewer for their feedback

Regardless of whether the review is positive or critical, it's important to thank the customer with one of the three methods above for taking the time to share their feedback. This can show that you value their opinion and are willing to listen to potential concerns.

Address any concerns or complaints

If the review contains any concerns or complaints, make sure to address them in a respectful and professional manner. Try to provide a solution or offer to make things right, if possible. This shows both the reviewer and potential customers that you are willing to go the extra mile to make things right.

Highlight positive feedback

If the review is positive, highlight the aspects of your business that the customer enjoyed and thank them for their kind words.

Keep it professional

Always maintain a professional tone and avoid getting defensive or argumentative. Any public responses that violate our Content Guidelines may be removed by our Content Moderation team.

Be timely

Respond to reviews as soon as you can, ideally within a few days of the review being posted. This shows you're engaged with your Yelp listing and if the reviewer mentions any concerns, you can address them sooner rather than later.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How does Yelp handle hateful content?

We do not tolerate hate speech, bigotry, racism, or similarly harmful language on Yelp. Any Yelp user with a logged in account can flag content like this for our Content Moderation team to investigate.

Do I have to respond to a critical review?

While it’s not required, responding to critical reviews can show other customers that you are committed to providing excellent customer service and that you take feedback seriously. 86% of respondents say they’re more likely to look past a business’s critical reviews if they demonstrate their commitment to customer service by responding and adequately addressing the issue.

I’m an advertiser, will a bad review affect my performance?

Absolutely not. Your advertising program and your reviews are separate. If you have concerns about how your program is performing, please contact our Customer Success team for a consultation. Please note that our Customer Success team cannot alter or remove reviews from your page and can only assist with your advertising campaign.

Is it worth advertising with critical reviews?

Canceling your ads because you have critical reviews on your page may do you more harm than good. In fact, canceling your advertising program will likely reduce the number of potential customers and leads on your page.

Things to keep in mind:

  • If you cancel your advertising, that review is still going to be there. And on top of that, you’ll have less exposure and leads than you did before because you’re losing out on that additional exposure that's bringing more people to your page.
  • When a potential customer comes to Yelp and searches for a business, they’re going to see business ads like yours in search results. Yelp Ads only feature positive reviews or customized text that you select in your ad. Once a potential customer views your page, they’ll be able to see all of your reviews there.
  • Customers visit your page to see if you are a good fit for their business needs—they aren’t there to simply dig through reviews. Show them you’re the right business by using all of your available page upgrades and ensuring your page has content that tells them about your business and drives them to take action.
  • Yelp has you covered with a variety of free and paid page features to help you stand out among the competition. Without this content, the only thing they have to evaluate your business are those reviews. Don’t let those be the final word—give potential customers as much information as possible so they can make the most informed decision.

At the end of the day, potential customers want to know what kind of experience they are going to have at your business. If you're concerned that a critical review will prevent you from getting new customers, your best course of action is to address the review and focus on winning people over by demonstrating your commitment to customer service right from your Yelp business page.