Changes to Yelp Review Protocol If your business has a lot of positive online feedback, it’s probably because your staff has become very savvy at asking your customers to post reviews online. Marketing firms are always pushing their clients to ask customers to write reviews because it’s one of the main ways to boost your search ranking and lead generation. It’s often harder to get people to say great things about your products or service if there is no reward. (Remember, it’s frowned upon to pay customers for reviews.) However, if the customer has an awful experience, those feelings are sure to end up online for all to see. Some marketers believe that for every 1 negative review, it takes 40 good ones to counterbalance the damage. So it is beneficial to get as many good reviews as possible. Until now, the act of asking your customers for reviews was perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, this trend may be changing. Yelp recently updated their policy regarding the act of asking for reviews. Businesses can no longer ask customers for reviews in Yelp. In addition, businesses can no longer use wording such as “Check us out on Yelp” in emails, text messages, etc. You can read more about Yelp’s new policy by clicking here. The reasons for this change? Yelp wants to make sure that the information found on their review site is as genuine and trustworthy as possible. Any type of customer prodding to gain reviews, prize/monetary incentives for reviews or even internal contests among staff to encourage customer reviews is now forbidden by Yelp. Yelp is taking review solicitation very seriously. Businesses that continue to solicit reviews will be warned by Yelp but may ultimately find that they drop (or are removed entirely) from Yelp search results due to their continued practices. There are Other Review Sites While it is indeed popular, Yelp is not the only review site in town. Google and Facebook are the fastest growing review sites today. Your business can still ask customers to post online reviews on other platforms without being penalized for this solicitation. Your business can also generically ask customers to post online reviews in the hopes that some land on Yelp without you having to specifically ask for it. Get External Help to Monitor and Generate Online Reviews One way to help improve your online reputation – without crossing any lines in the online review world – is by signing up for the Reputation Ramp Up program at Fast Track Marketing. The program includes 24/7 monitoring of online reviews across 200+ review, local business listings and social sites (yes, there are that many!). We provide timely responses to all positive reviews and coach businesses on the right way to respond to the negative ones. Our program will auto-post the best reviews to your website, custom review microsite and social media pages to improve your search engine optimization (SEO). In addition, our program can help your business generate new reviews through automatic emails and text messages. Reputation Ramp Up: Proven Results An ophthalmology practice in Maryland hired Fast Track to improve their online review status. When we were hired, the practice had 19 online reviews since 2010. In just 2 months with our program, we had generated 17 new reviews. Another ophthalmology practice in New York City had averaged 10 reviews a month prior to starting with Fast Track. After sending out drip emails to a database of 20,000 people, 45 new reviews were generated in less than 2 months – a 78% increase in the first month alone! Fast Track Marking has a team of SEO experts that stay on top of the ever-changing world of online reputation management. Any news we hear is immediately shared with our clients to ensure the best search results and compliance – even HIPAA compliance for specialty medical practices. To learn more about online reputation management or our Reputation Ramp Up program, please contact Fast Track Marketing’s Director of Business Development, Brandi Musgrave, at (303) 731-2634 or firstname.lastname@example.org.