How To Remove A Yelp Review Hurting Your Business (For Free)

How to Delete a Google Review

Learn how to remove a Yelp review that’s hurting your business. And what to do if Yelp refuses to remove the review.

Yelp business reviews pose many dangers to local businesses. Just one of those dangers is that Yelp systematically filters out more positive reviews than negative reviews, skewing results toward lower star ratings. This leaves business owners with no choice but to actively combat negative reviews.

This article gives you a few strategies to combat bad reviews.

Here are the specific topics on how to remove a Yelp review that we cover in depth in this article:

The long-term answer: Drown out bad reviews with good reviews

Negative reviews are a fact of life in our modern digital world. Whether or not you remove a Yelp review that’s hurting your business today, you’re going to have more negative reviews to deal with again in the future.

There’s only one way to protect your business from negative reviews that have a lasting, long-term impact: Drown them out with positive reviews.

It takes a lot of positive reviews to drown out just 1 negative review

If you have an average 5-star Yelp rating based on 5 reviews—each of which gives your business 5 stars—and you get hit with a 1-star review, your average rating will drop by an entire star to 4.0 stars overnight.

But if that same 5-star Yelp rating is based on 10 reviews instead of just 5 reviews, then that 1-star review will drop your average down to 4.5 stars instead of 4.0 stars.

Better yet, if your 5-star Yelp rating is based on 15 reviews, then your 5-star average will remain 5.0 stars since the total review average of 4.75 will round up to 5.0 stars on Yelp.

What kinds of reviews will Yelp remove?

Yelp is open to removing a review that violates Yelp’s Content Guidelines or the law.

You may be able to get Yelp to remove a Yelp review if it violates one or more of these rules:

  • Inappropriate content – Threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, bigotry
  • Conflicts of interest – Reviews written by employees, competitors, or vendors
  • Paid reviews – Reviews written by people who were paid to write the review
  • Promotional content – Reviews designed specifically to promote some other business
  • Irrelevant content – Reviews that have nothing to do with reviewing a customer experience with the business—like political rants, responses to other Yelp reviews, or the incoherent ramblings of a madman
  • Indirect experiences – Reviews written by people who were never customers of the business, such as someone writing about a friend’s experiences instead of their own
  • Wrong business – Reviews written about a different business than the business represented by the Yelp page
  • Privacy violations – Reviews that include people’s private information, including personally identifying information like people’s full names or photos of other customers
  • Copyright violations – Reviews with content that the reviewer didn’t create and doesn’t own the copyright to redistribute
  • Extortion – Reviews in which the reviewer demands payment to remove a Yelp review

How to remove a Yelp review that violates Yelp’s policies

Yelp is often happy to remove a Yelp review that violates their policies.

First, check the list under “What kinds of reviews will Yelp remove?” to identify which specific rules you think a Yelp review violates.

Next, follow Yelp’s instructions on how to report the offending review.

Yelp has a team of people who will then decide whether or not to remove a Yelp review.

If the Yelp team decides not to delete the review, try sending Customer Support a Questionable Content report to get them to reconsider their decision.

In the comments section, be sure to describe the exact Yelp rule you believe the review violates, including the specific language in the review that violates the rule. You have a much better chance of getting Yelp to remove a Yelp review if you make a clear and strong case, connecting the dots from a specific Yelp policy to a specific language in the review you want Yelp to delete.

How to reply to a bad Yelp review (to reduce the damage)

While waiting for Yelp to remove a review that violates Yelp’s policies, your next best option is to minimize the damage.

The best way to minimize the damage of a negative Yelp review is to show everyone who reads it how laser-focused you are on satisfying your customers.

Take a look at this negative review about a locksmith…

How to reply to a bad review - example bad review

Sounds pretty bad, right?

You probably would think twice about hiring this locksmith.

Now look at the locksmith’s reply to the review….

How to reply to a bad review - example reply

Did your opinion of the locksmith just get better after reading that reply?

He said he tries not to make the mistake the reviewer complained about, showing that he sympathizes and doesn’t dismiss the problem.

Yet he didn’t argue or make excuses. He took responsibility.

He also committed to doing better in the future… so if you hire him, this probably won’t be a problem anymore.

This is a great example of how—even when the business is wrong and a customer is right to write a negative review—the business owner can still write a reply that wins over everyone who ever reads the review in the future, including people actively looking to make a buying decision.

Here are 7 pro tips for how to write a reply to a negative review that will win over everyone who reads it….

Tip #1) Reply quickly

Reply as quickly as possible after a negative review comes in.

If you reply quickly, the customer will see that as a sign that you’re extra responsive, which might help you get them to change their review, turning a negative review into a positive one.

And if the customer updates their review, they just might also mention how quick and responsive you were. (We’ve seen this happen many times.) That’s a great message for prospects to read when making their buying decisions.

Tip #2) Sympathize

Truly sympathize with the fact that your customer still feels pain. Never make light of a customer’s problem, nor try to minimize how bad it is.

This is a person who had a need, and turned to your business for help but didn’t get satisfaction. So they still feel the pain of that need. Sympathize with them, and show it in your reply.

Tip #3) Take responsibility

Always take responsibility for the fact that the customer did not get the satisfaction they expected from your business.

Never use language that even slightly hints that the customer is to blame.

Even if you did everything possible to satisfy the customer and they were entirely in the wrong, the fact remains that they sought satisfaction from your business and didn’t get it. Take responsibility for that, even if you don’t feel your business is responsible for any wrongdoing.

Once you’ve taken responsibility, don’t make excuses. It’s tempting to try to avoid looking bad by explaining away why the customer isn’t satisfied. But if you do this, readers will think you’re just trying to avoid responsibility. Just don’t do it, no matter how tempting.

Tip #4) Stay positive

Make sure the tone and attitude of your reply stay positive at all times.

Adopt the attitude that you’re here to help the customer in any way you can. Stay focused on trying to deliver that help. Don’t get bogged down in who’s to blame or what went wrong in the past. Instead, stay hopeful about how to satisfy the customer in the immediate future.

Also, make sure your language uses all positive words and avoids negative words as much as possible.

This includes simple, innocent negative words and phrases like not, don’t, can’t, bad, too much, too little, worried, etc….

Even if you use these words innocently (like, “I’m sorry you’re worried about the bad service that was too late”) some people will not listen to the meaning of your words, but just absorb the “vibe” of all the negative words and react emotionally to those words.

Marketers like us who have worked in this field for decades know that people respond to the positive or negative connotations of words just as much as the meaning of words. So take our word for it. The “tone” of the words you use matters just as much as their meaning.

Tip #5) Keep it short

Make your reply no longer than 5 sentences. If you can fit your reply in 2 sentences without losing the important parts, that’s even better!

The reason to keep your reply short is that people prefer to skim reviews, not read them thoroughly.

When a prospect looks over your reviews, if they see a short reply, they’re far more likely to read the entire reply. If they see a long reply, they’re more likely not to even read the first few words, since they know it will take them too long to read the reply in its entirety.

Tip #6) Fix the problem (if possible)

If the unhappy customer gave your business a negative review because of a problem you can reasonably fix, then you’re in luck!

Do everything you can to fix it. Go out of your way. And make sure your review reply reflects how far you’re going to try to fix the problem.

You want to seriously impress all prospects who read your reply. You want them to come away thinking, “Wow, that business bent over backward to make this customer happy. That’s the kind of business I can trust.”

Tip #7) Inform (especially if you can’t fix the problem)

Sometimes you can’t reasonably fix the problem an unhappy customer has. When that happens, go to great lengths to help the customer with information instead.

You might give them information that will help them fix the problem themselves. Or you might give them information about a different product or business that could help them.

Don’t give them low-value information, like “motherhood and apple pie” statements that are just common sense. You’ll come across as dismissive, lazy, and unconcerned about your customers.

Instead, spend the time to do some research and come back with some truly insightful, on-point, useful information. Perhaps include links to other informational resources the customer could use to dive into more detail after you make a useful suggestion.


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