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5 Ways to Combat Negative Reviews on Yelp

10/07/2013 08:01 pm ET | Updated Dec 07, 2013

Love it or hate it, Yelp and all of its reviews will be around for the foreseeable future. As a business, for every positive review you can pat yourself on the back for, you'll agonize 10 times as much for each negative post. Negative reviews affect a business's overall Yelp "star" rating and this is the first thing users see next to your Yelp listing. As an avid Yelp user, I know firsthand that what customers have to say about you, can influence others. Good reviews bring in new business. Bad reviews scare potential and even existing customers away.

Picture this: You're with a bunch of friends looking for a place to eat after the movies. You whip out your smartphone and open your Yelp app to search for nearby restaurants. You find a couple of suggestions that you run by your buddies and the first thing they ask is, "what does Yelp say about them?" In other words, they're already programmed to weed out the establishments with the weaker ratings. It happens all too often to the frustration of many businesses since it's not something they can easily control. But unless something drastic happens, Yelp is here for the long haul and it's up to businesses to embrace it and make the most of it. Here are five ways to combat negative reviews on Yelp:

1. Take ownership. It's important to "claim this business," on Yelp. By doing so, you'll be able to respond to reviewers, or "Yelpers," who have given you a weak rating in a public forum so that future visitors can see that you're working to amend any issues.

2. Fix it. After responding to negative reviews, the obvious thing to do is fix the problem. For example, a fish dish that doesn't pair well with round cabbage may be better served with spinach. The light varnish you use for your particular wood products should be dressed with a heavier coat. However, it doesn't make any business sense to throw out all of your wood products because one Yelper thought the varnish coat was too light. You should at least make the effort to resolve any problems or areas of concern but within reason.

3. Flag it. Flag any false reviews. False reviews are not permitted by Yelp and can be flagged for removal. A false review can be a post that is hearsay or even one that is misleading such as telling users that the bikes at a certain shop are of poor quality when the shop actually serves Korean food.

4. Get the most out of Yelp. As a business you can subscribe to an array of tools that can help bring more customers through the door. With more Yelpers utilizing your products and services, this creates an opportunity to boost your overall rating. You can also partner with Yelp to participate in events where the majority of those attending are active Yelpers. Put on your best showing at these events and watch your Yelp rating grow over time.

5. Create a social following. Build your reputation through other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If your business can build a community and establish itself within local social groups, active Yelpers are more than likely to be lenient and go a little easier on negative reviews. To put it simply, you don't want to be talking trash about everyone's friend.

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