While social travel review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can be helpful for trip planning, one constant criticism is how easily it is for business owners to write or pay for fake reviews of their establishment to boost its rating. In Yelp's latest effort to discourage this kind of manipulation, they will be publicly shaming these businesses by displaying warning signs to readers (shown above).
The travel site is putting on their detective hats and watching for suspicious activity by business owners. For example, if many reviews are being submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, this can be an indicator. Once they find these "rogue solicitations," they warn users. According to Digital Trends
, the alert will stay active for 90 days and will be removed after this period, as long as the business quits gaming the system.
"We want to make sure consumers are making informed decisions," said Eric Singley, Yelp's VP of Consumer & Mobile Products. "Yelp's automated review filter is working around the clock to flag these types of biased reviews, and we believe that you deserve the right to know when this type of activity is taking place behind the scenes."
Although this new idea has only been in place for a couple days, it's already working. For example, a Texan business owner who had purchased 200 positive online reviews was caught in Yelp's filter due to its overly "impressive results."
Mr. Singley notes that, while Yelp does have to be aware of these scams, for the most part their travel community is full of honest business owners.
For more information, check out Yelp's official blog post
on the new initiative.
[Image via Yelp