Though Yelp does its best to moderate comments and weed out the artificially glowing or deliberately cruel ones, the online service permits "fair commentary" – it's OK to post they received poor service, but it's less OK to write something overreaching like, "This place is terrible and why does anyone still have a job there or any customers at all. y???"
Since your future income depends on new and regular business, is there anything someone interested in reputation management can do to remove negative Yelp reviews for the site or from other search reviews? The short answer is no, but the longer answer is maybe, but it takes time.
For those saying "what about my company and my future?" here's what tools work.
- Comment on the comments. If you receive an unflattering online review, you are allowed to share your side of things. You could explain the situation or even offer a simple apology, saying that everyone received refunds and process were improved. The original poster may even have a change of heart and remove their comment.
- Employ a reputation management firm, or try software or apps. Some companies offer a free analysis or give you a no cost evaluation which monitor mentions of you on Google or search engines, or help create environments for people to sound off. Even the free best companies have people who lose their loyalty.
- Focus on SEO, but differently. Some people discover Yelp while searching for a business, so if Google/search engines produce more positive results about your business, the searcher may not make it to the Yelp page. Forbes offers solutions on other common ways to rebuild your online reputation. (1)
- Encourage positive reviews. There's a fine line between deliberately instructing your fans to post glowing reviews, but Ragan's PR Daily suggests (2) there's value in asking them politely to consider honest reviews. It takes time, but the more reviews you receive, the less value a few negative ones will have.
- Get started now. The longer you're in business earning future income and not monitoring the cheapest shots, the more they'll come.
Yelp is one of those great tools that let you see what "real" people think about a particular business. Unfortunately, "real" people sometimes have bad days, which can lead to overly critical reviews from customers, to staff having a bad day, which also leads to bad reviews online.