3 next-level Yelp tricks for business owners

Struggling with Yelp reviews? Columnist Brian Patterson shares his tactics for understanding and improving your review score.


Brian Patterson on November 21, 2016 at 9:24 am


I’m always on the lookout for interesting tips, tricks and strategies that marketing managers and business owners can use to improve their Yelp pages. From dissecting Yelp’s own videos about their product, to building detailed review analysis, to straight up asking Yelp for clarification on their mixed messages, I’m on the hunt for every little edge I can find.

Yelp is far more complex than it seems on the surface. Following are three great tricks that you can use to take advantage of the nuances of Yelp to improve your Yelp page(s).

Yelp calculator

A big difference between Yelp and Google Reviews is that Yelp rounds to half-star increments, and Google does not round (though they do use complex Bayesian averaging). So, on Google, you can have a 4.1, 4.2 and so on. But on on Yelp, you can only have a 4.0 or a 4.5, and nothing in between.

Because of this, you never quite know where you stand on Yelp. Are you a solid 4, just about ready to jump up to a 4.5, or teetering on the edge of dropping to 3.5? So should you be excited or scared? Yelp doesn’t make it clear.

To help bring some clarity and help you test out different scenarios, you can use this Yelp Improvement Calculator. This lets you enter in your current rating distribution, and then it lets you know what it will take to get to various higher star ratings. You can also tweak your rating distribution to see if you could potentially be close to dropping to a lower rating.


Yelp review removal video

Yelp has a very strict set of content guidelines. These guidelines provide a lot of detail on what a reviewer is allowed and not allowed to do. If you are a business owner, commit these content guidelines to memory. Yelp allows you to flag reviews that violate these guidelines, so if you know the rules, you can flag any negative reviews you see and have them removed.

There are a lot of rules, and it can be a lot to remember, so my colleague Daniel Russell recorded a video to break down the common content guideline violations. This helps make it clearer what you can flag for removal. Don’t underestimate the power of flagging — we’ve improved clients’ pages by half and full stars, simply by removing the reviews from their page that violated the content guidelines.

Find the profile of a filtered/not-recommended reviewer

On Yelp, nothing is more frustrating for business owners than the filter. The filter sometimes sucks in great five-star reviews that you would love to have. As I mentioned in a previous article, for any positive review that is filtered, you can do the following:

If you can identify the customer who left a positive review in the filter, you can reach out to them and let them know their great review is being hidden because they aren’t active on Yelp. Additionally, you (and other employees) can add them as a friend and mark their reviews as useful and cool.

Here’s the problem: For any review that is in the filter, Yelp does not provide a link to the reviewer’s profile. It also doesn’t show the useful/funny/cool buttons. So it makes it impossible to interact with the reviewer, follow them or mark their reviews

Now here’s the solution: Dig into the code on the page a tiny bit and you can find the information needed to access their profile. Follow the instructions below, and you’ll be able to rebuild a link to the user’s profile to access it. Hooray!

First, open up the filter (not-recommended list) by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the arrow next to “not currently recommended.”


Scroll/page through the filtered reviews to find the review/person whose profile URL you’d like to find. Highlight their name, right-click, and click “Inspect” (I do this in Chrome, but you might be able to tweak this for other browsers).


Now, this next step may look daunting if you aren’t used to digging into code, but it is easy, trust me. Chrome should show you a little window of code. Look for the last “< li>” in the area of code it is showing you. Now, look at the line of code under it, all the way to the right. You should see something that says “user_id:______.” Everything following the colon, up to the end quotation, is the magic ID you need, so highlight that and copy it.


Last step! I usually just open another tab and go to any other user’s profile that I can access. Then I just delete the existing User ID in the URL and plug in what I copied. Hit enter and voila! You are on that reviewer’s profile. You can now mark their review as useful and cool, follow them, compliment them and so on.


There you have it. Three of my favorite Yelp tricks that I hope you use as part of your arsenal to increase your Yelp score and bring in more business. If you find these helpful and really want more, check out my previous article that contains some useful Yelp tidbits, “5 Yelp Facts Business Owners Should Know (But Most Don’t).”

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