Yelp Extortion

Every business Yelp page is owned by Yelp and symbiotically with the people who express their views. The business owner can access certain parts of the page to provide basic information, but for the most part the reviews are posted by Yelpers and the rest of the page is controlled by Yelp.

They control the page and make their money by an aggressive sales team that solicits the business owner for a handful of services. Services start with the removal of ads that they placed on your page of near-by competitive businesses, paying for clicks that bring people to your page and where your business shows up in the searches to name a few. Please also notice that all the review content is provided by the public, not something that they pay for.  

After six months my restaurant had accumulated so many five star reviews that Yelp started to roll them over to the "not recommended" section of the page to prevent a five star overall rating. The restaurant was coming up as number one in many different searches for Las Vegas and Henderson, and in my weekly report from Yelp (because I used their reservation system), we were getting 600+ clicks to our site from "our" Yelp page per week. 

I thought that because of our dedication to quality food and genuine service, we were enjoying our rightful earned place in the process. Right at the six month mark I was strongly approached by Yelp Sales Team and presented with a plan to now pay for what I had already been enjoying in an advertising package that also included the removal of competitor advertising that they place on your page. I had not been familiar with the concept of "paying not to have something", and that is exactly how Yelp shakes down the business owner. I did not pay for advertising package and my restaurant no longer came up in search's, the clicks to my page were reduced by two-thirds and our business levels were reduced by half.

Having legitimate forums for patrons to express their views of a business is a positive thing. For the conscientious business owner it provides great motivation to make sure they give an exceptional experience. Whether it be great advertising from good reviews or constructive criticism, the process pretends to be a balanced and legitimate forum. It is quite apparent from my experience that Yelp has created this venue to manipulate their system to use unethical methods to coerce and extort the business owner.

Oh, I almost forgot. After your business starts to suffer and your trying to figure out why. The Yelp Sales Team will "notice" how the clicks to your page have dropped off as a sales tool of why you need to purchase more advertising!