Yelp’s November 2018 Algorithm Change and Sudden Loss of Reviews

Update 12/18/2018: I believe I have discovered why some reviews are being filtered in a new way. Please refer to this updated article: The Yelp Review Purge of 2018.

A client of mine who checks his Yelp rankings monthly at the end of the month contacted me today to inform me that a significant number of his reviews were suddenly buried in the month of November. While I’m not certain of the date this occurred, I do know these dates and numbers to be accurate:

November 1, 2018 (69.44% of reviews displayed):

  • 75 (recommended) reviews
  • 33 (not currently recommended) reviews
  • 108 total reviews

November 30, 2018 (41.66% of reviews displayed):

  • 45 (recommended) reviews
  • 63 (not currently recommended) reviews
  • 108 total reviews

All of the reviews are legitimate reviews.

They’re not alone.

I went online and as of December 1, 2018 I found several other people who were suddenly missing their Yelp reviews as well.

Maxine Evans, below, noted that she suddenly lost over 40 of her reviews in November. Currently, on her Yelp page, 88 of her reviews show and 81 are buried.

Tampa Rug Cleaners says they have seen a huge reduction in displayed reviews:

Apparently, it could be a world wide algorithm rollout:

Fix It Nick went from 66 reviews (54/12, that’s 54 recommended / 12 not recommended) to 34/32. That means Fix It Nick went from 81.81% of his reviews displaying at the beginning of November to 51.51%.

I understand this is not a lot of data. However, something has definitely changed. In the first example, the Yelp listing is closely monitored, and while the recommended review number may fluctuate by 1 or 2 points each month, never has the review count sunk so suddenly. That’s a huge change.

Why aren’t my hard earned reviews showing up?

I owned a brick and mortar business for 13 years and totally understand how difficult it is just to get a single review. To me, to have any of them disappear is gut wrenching, and to have HALF of them disappear is infuriating.

To the best of my knowledge, Yelp is not screwing you over intentionally. Yes, there are dozens, if not hundreds of websites which state otherwise. In 2015, I looked into this myself and wrote this article: Why your Business’s Yelp Reviews Aren’t Being Displayed. In the article I explain that Yelp has an algorithm which picks and chooses which reviews to recommend or filter (not recommend). The “recommended” reviews are basically when 99.9% of people are going to see as the entire review count. In fact, Yelp displays this business number as the review count in Google’s search results. I can see why most people would see that as incredibly misleading. Anyways, in the article above, I explain that the FTC looked into Yelp and determined that they are not suppressing reviews in exchange for payment.

That said, it would be nice to have some communication from Yelp. Is this a temporary problem? An algorithm change? Who knows.

Which reviews are being filtered or “not recommended” as of December 2018?

The last in depth study of Yelp’s algorithm was conducted in 2013. It’s like studying computer science so I’ll explain it in a nutshell:

  • User reviews can come and go from day to day. 
  • A user’s first review is very unlikely to display. A user’s second review has about a 20% chance of displaying. As they leave more reviews, the more likely their reviews are to display.
    From the study – here are the chances they came up with of a review showing:

However, if you’re reading this you feel that there’s been a huge change to that algorithm in late 2018. Unfortunately, Yelp hasn’t told us anything about it, and their employees know nothing about it either.

Again, I don’t have a ton of data here to go by, but after looking at the filtered reviews of a dozen or so businesses, I think Yelp has tweaked their algorithm (at least for some business types) to bury some types of reviews. Here are some theories:

  • Yelp may be cracking down even harder on reviews from users who have left 10 reviews or less
  • Yelp could be filtering reviews from users who are inactive (not sure for how long. 16mos?)
  • Yelp could be filtering reviews based on niche / business type.
  • Yelp may have simply been overdue to filter reviews from Yelpers who have only left a few reviews.
  • This could all just be a temporary error on Yelp’s side.

As you can see, I’m not 100% certain why some reviews aren’t displaying. Once a review is no longer recommended, I can’t click onto the user to see their recent activity, so I can’t check to see if they’ve become inactive. Here’s an example of a filtered review from a user who is obviously a Yelper (but again I’m not sure if they are inactive since I can’t click their profile):

Is it the niche?

I haven’t paid close attention to the performance of niches on Yelp but it does appear that some niches are held to different standards. From a quick look around, I am seeing that personal injury attorneys often retain 40%-80% of their reviews, while massage therapists seem to retain 75%-95% of theirs.

Massage Green Spa San Marcos, for example, has 74 of their 81 reviews displaying on their Yelp page.

No communication from Yelp:

I reached out to Yelp but there was no comment on the state of their algorithm; they basically have people there that say “we have a special software to recommend certain reviews, blah, blah, blah…”. In other words, if there was a huge change, Yelp employees are either completely unaware of it or have been instructed to pretend their has been no change. It would be nice if they could confirm they’ve updated their algorithm OR let us know that they’re experiencing a problem and working on it.

Please comment below if your reviews got whacked:

If you lost a significant number of reviews in late 2018 we’d be happy to hear from you. Please feel free to email me or comment below. If you happen to know the number of reviews which you had before the algorithm change or the date you lost your reviews that would be extremely helpful as we continue to monitor this situation.

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.
74 Comments
  1. Thanks so much for this post. I do SEO and offsite marketing for my clients. I received an email from a martial arts studio I’ve gotten great results for. His Yelp reviews were reduced and I was at a loss. I then checked mine and the same thing. There’s no reasoning with Yelp…as pertinent and genuine as the reviews are. I myself only have 4 out of 13 reviews showing :O. Whatever, thankful for each and every client that took the time to post on behalf of the services they’ve received.

    • Wow, you found that post fast. 🙂 This article is already getting traffic. I wonder if Yelp will fill us in…

    • This happened to me too. I hate yelp. It worked well, until it didn’t.

  2. Same issue with my business, hard work down the drain plus big mone if you pay for yelp. Software update or not yelp needs to reach out with an official explanation,I was told is was a software updated that doesn’t make sense. They making harder for small business to stay alive. In the end I’m going to terminate business with yelp if there no resolution.

  3. I have a moving company and lost about 25% of my reviews as well. Yelp has absolutely no idea what I’m talking about and says it is “their software”. I get that paying them won’t help, but I feel that they owe me a crystal clear explanation. This is a gigantic change.

  4. I lost over half of my reviews 35 unfiltered and 40 filtered. I own a small beauty salon. I canceled my YELP AD and they unfiltered my only 3 star review immediately, the client took the review down then Yelp started to filter because I won’t advertise for them.

    • Hi Biba,

      Is this your listing?
      https://www.yelp.com/biz/biba-isla-boutique-salon-new-orleans-4

      As of 12/6/2018 I am seeing 35 reviews showing (recommended) and 40 filtered. You have some good reviewers who have been filtered..

      Do you happen to know how many were recommended prior to the big change in November?

      • Hi Paul,

        Thank you for your reply! I had around 57 reviews recommended and around 13 filtered. After I canceled ads the recommended started getting filtered as of today it is 26 recommended.

  5. I have a small hair salon. Before the review rampage, i had 100 reviews (97 5*). Slowly day by day we lose a review or two every day till today 12/6/18. Currently i have only 48 recommended & 88 unrecommended. It is painful as it took me 3 years to get all that reviews… My competitor seem to lose a few reviews every week. But I’ve been hit so hard by this.

    • Wow. It’s normal for 2 or 3 to come and go and rotate out. I’ve never seen so many reviews disappear so suddenly…

  6. I went from 118 reviews and a 5 star to 60 reviews with 4.5 stars. Lost 40 reviews from 2018 alone.

  7. Our Carpet Cleaning Company went from 325 (5-Star) to 238 (4.5 Star). We pay for a small CPC plan with them, so I don’t believe it’s because they want to push you into paying them. These are all documented customers reviews that our team went above and beyond to get. Never paid for fakes or pressured clients.

    This is very unfortunate and we are questioning whether it would be wise to focus our Yelp efforts elsewhere

  8. Yep! Happened to us! End of october we had 80 beautiful reviews we know to be real and we worked really hard for those. Now we have 45? More then 65 in filtered? We gotta start a petition here.

    • Please! I had almost 150 reviews, now barely 80 something. Let’s start something

  9. I own a tattoo shop and our reviews suddenly dropped from 144 recommended reviews in early November to only 78 today (Dec 8). This morning we had 79. Last night we had 80. Yesterday morning we had 82. Since this sudden and quite drastic rapid drop in visible reviews, we have noticed that none of the other tattoo shops in our area have fallen victim to this “random algorithm”.

    Some of these newly filtered reviews are from just a few weeks ago, from seemingly active yelpers. And all are legitimate reviews. And of course, only 5 star reviews are filtered, while our few one star reviews (from inactive yelpers) remain as “recommended reviews”.

    Yelp has been absolutely no help at all and in fact their lack of help or knowledge has resulted in our decision to cancel our Yelp advertising package (we were paying a small monthly fee for the ability to sort our photos and prevent competitor ads on our page).

    Hopefully this is a temporary problem. But if Yelp is trying to extort small businesses to get our reviews back, they need to start playing fair.

  10. Additional note: Perhaps this article about Yelp’s stock plummeting in November explains the sudden loss of recommended reviews. Yelp may be grasping at straws trying to bully small businesses into purchasing ads.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/11/09/yelp-craters-30percent-as-advertisers-abandon-the-site.html

    • Well, as a long-time Yelp advertiser, I am going say that this strategy is a sure-fire way to lose me!!! There is no way I am going to pay them a penny more, after they slashed my hard work like this. In fact, I have already decided to cancel my advertising plan with them altogether and advertise elsewhere. I am so turned off by them.

  11. I am in the resume writing business. During the past few weeks, Yelp has slashed my reviews from 98 down to about 53 and it is going down by the day. I have noticed that this was not persona. In other words, they haven’t done this only to my business. In my city, there are about two or three dozens of resume writers listed on Yelp. Yelp slashed everyone’s reviews except two of its resume writers in my city: 1) The one who had the most number of reviews, and 2) The one who was (and is) paying the most for advertising.

    Even the merchant who had been the winner of #peopleloveusonYelp Award for three consecutive years, was subject to Yelp’s November review massacre. Oh, that winner is me, by the way. No respect for the very awards they granted me after all my hard work!!! What kind of a game is that? I had a review from a 2018 Yelp Elite member. His review of my business was also slashed!

    When I say they filtered me down from 98 to 53, it is important to note two things:
    1. I am a Yelp advertiser already for a long time
    2. When I was showing 98 reviews, I already had 26 filtered. So here is a comparison:
    BEFORE –> Total: 124 = 98 visible + 26 filtered
    NOW —–> Total: 124 = 53 visible + 71 filtered

    To remove 71 reviews from my page, is like calling me a liar 71 times.

    THAT IS NOT ALL…..
    Ever since this review massacre began, the in-flow of quote requests totally stopped. There are no more quote requests from Yelpers at all. Gone! It’s like all Yelpers died and went to heaven! I get the odd quote request once every few days, from someone who is using Yelp as a Guest, and has no account, no reviews, ho friends, no profile… It’s really weird. I wrote to Yelp and sent them 17 snapshots of these weird quote requests. They completely ignored me.

    AND NOW….
    They have started to call me, leave me vm, and send me follow-up emails. There isn’t even a remote tone of courtesy in the emails they send. On the contrary, their emails are very cocky… They write things like: “For an opportunity to discuss your account with us, call us at blah, blah, blah..” For an OPPORTUNITY to discuss my account??? I don’t know about you, but I think that is so rude.

    At this point, all I am going to say is that “I used to be a fan!”

    • Hi Mandy,

      Thank you for your detailed comment. I too have seen several people in the same niche impacted in the same city. It is unfortunate that two others were not impacted; that doesn’t sound good.

      From your numbers:
      79% of your reviews were displayed prior to this change..
      42% of them are bring displayed afterwards..

      Yikes.

  12. Oh boy, let me pile on. End of October I had 64 reviews showing. As of this morning I have 36 and I added 3 the past few weeks so I lost 31 reviews-all 5 stars. I have spoken with 3 separate yelp employees and its all the same BS answer. I had been spending 4k a month with them through September and I cut it to $2500 starting October. $2500 a month and 31 reviews gone!!! Legitimate ones as well. Of course the only 1 star one I have is still recommended. This company is horrific and I cant wait one day to waive the flap at their funeral. The owners should be put in jail. What other company solicits money from you just so your competitors ads do not show up on your own profile, then filters so many great reviews and leaves the bad ones up? These owners should be personally liable and I hope one day they get theirs for all the pain and deceit they have done to us small business owners. I mean I have sales/credit card receipts that I can show them and still they dont care. Their answer is that if every business tried to verify their reviews they would not have enough staff to go thru it. yet I am sure if the people who want to advertise with them triple they would find a way to hire more people. You know, its all and always will be ABOUT THE MONEY!!!

  13. Wow! I have home furnishing company and saw my reviews drop every day since November. They filtered 8 of my 11 reviews. Thanks god they can’t pick and choose since they are all 5 star and real reviews. I started campaign with them after my yelp traffic dropped by just ended it after reading similar stories. I am better off advertizing with google! I am going to ask for google reviews instead after all! Thanks everyone for sharing!

  14. Thanks so much for posting this Len. I have a digtial media background (sold my agency 4 years ago) and now, in my second life, I own a wine tasting tour company. In November, my displayed reviews (29) slowly throughout the month continued to decline to where I have 10 reviews that are displayed and 31 that are hidden.

    This has been SO infuriating and I felt as though it was retaliation for not advertising with them. This article at least helps me feel better knowing that I’m not alone and that others in my situation are experiencing the same feelings.

    I just find it hard to believe that Yelp would penalize users for giving a review. It doesn’t make any sense and it would be so amazing if Yelp would pull their heads out of the sand and identify that what they are doing is hurting local businesses. People just aren’t as active on Yelp as Yelp would like for them to be. Nor do they give the education to the end-user to understand that their initial reviews won’t really ever display.

    While it’s a necessary evil for a small business, it makes my company look small because it won’t display the true amount of reviews that we’ve genuinely received.

    • Thank you Gary. Yes, to the best of my knowledge, Yelp is not extorting you. 🙂 Glad I could clear that up! That’s a really interesting business you have there, too! 🙂

  15. Yes, more than half of my Yelp reviews are gone. Very frustrating. I work hard for my clients and when they take the time to leave a review, I am very grateful. I don’t know what to do. Greatly impacts my business. I pay $1500/mo for advertising on Yelp. I may switch to Google.

  16. Update: The company I mentioned at the top of this article is now down to 38 recommended reviews. The review slaughter is indeed continuing through December. Now only 35% of their reviews are showing. Wow..

  17. Len,

    Appreciate the write up, but I think your leaning away from what is really going on here.

    Couple great write ups on how their stock tanked. They need the ad money, plain and simple. Without that source of revenue, yelp goes down, and fast. While it is possible it could be a system glitch, that is highly unlikely. Yelp would have addressed this by now.

    Clear as day what they are doing here.. google “billion dollar bully”. Kaylie and her partner have done a wonderful job with the film.

    • Hi Mark,

      Shortly after typing this up I was pinged into a conversation which mentioned their stock price dip. I had no idea. That said, I don’t see how businesses losing their reviews would want to suddenly spend more money with Yelp. In fact, I’ve been hearing just the opposite. But, who knows what people will do.

      I also do not subscribe to the theory that Yelp is holding reviews ransom. In the comments above, there are plenty of paying customers who have lost their reviews. Of course, I do not know the CEO, but as mentioned in my article, Yelp has been investigated before and there was no foul play found.

      I do know that “recommended reviews” are tanking for all sorts of businesses all over the world, and that the reviews displayed are controlled by an algorithm.

      • Correct. An algorithm that they built. They can make it do whatever they want. When they say otherwise they are full of it.

        Taking away reviews levels out the playing field, so smaller companies with less reviews aren’t discouraged to advertise. More competition equates to more needs to advertise.

        I believe yelp will be like MySpace in no time.

        • That’s interesting. I haven’t thought of that. That’s definitely worth looking into… I just looked at my client’s niche – and everyone has lost a ton of reviews.. However, not every niche in every city is like that.

          This is still rolling out and reviews are still going away. People are not happy. I don’t know if the average user will ever care (or even notice) though…

          Anyways… Their silence is deafening…

  18. My company went from 136 reviews to 101 reviews. I am a longtime advertiser and part of the “Yelp Biz All Stars”. I tried to express concern to my ad rep and local biz rep but as far as I can tell, they are choosing to ignore me. Sending a note to Yelp resulted in only a generic and condescending message stating that they can’t treat my business differently than anyone else’s… obviously not the point of my feedback. Yelp was a great thing for my business for a long time, but it’s time to invest in other avenues. The outlook for Yelp is not looking good anyway. I am among those that think this was a desperate ploy to shake things up after their lackluster earnings report.

  19. Update 12/12/2018: Maxine Evans (mentioned in the article above) is now down to 79 reviews.

    Fix It Nick, mentioned above, is now down to 28 reviews.

  20. Yep, I work in the home cleaning in industry and EVERYONE has been hit very, very hard. I’m down from 21 reviews to 7 (only the 5 star reviews are getting hidden). A lot of people I know in this industry have lost over 50% of their positive reviews.

    Personally this has cut my revenue in half. I wonder if we will be able to survive another year.

  21. I have gone from over 60 to less than 30 reviews since I first noticed the changes in early November – now with over 100 filtered, many from visibly active Yelp users with lots of friends, reviews and photos. I am the #1 spot in my market, and thus far still am although not sure when the filtering will stop. I have always checked every so often to monitor the competition’s reviews, and as far as I can tell no one else is losing reviews at this rate. There was always a gap and most others behind me had 5-25 reviews or so. I am not a paying user, but have a colleague in a similar related industry who’s in the #1 spot and is losing reviews at a similar rate — he was paying thousands a month in advertising. So the target doesn’t seem to have anything to do with paying vs non-paying users — instead seems to be targeting the top tier of businesses with the most reviews and hitting them with the biggest percentage of lost reviews; next tier a lower percentage and so on. So they are certainly NOT treating everyone’s business the same and seemingly have applied different algorithms to different users. If it was a mistake on Yelp’s part, they would have fixed it by now …the question is when/if it will stop.

    @Len My theory. I agree with you that Yelp’s ad money is the driving factor — nowadays if you do a search, 4 ads come up before the organic rated businesses – which alone shows how Yelp has shifted gears from an organic website that started as a way to connect small businesses with customers, to this. But many of these advertised businesses have little to no reviews. Poor guys think people will go to Yelp and call them without a review, but those are the businesses I imagine Yelp gets a chunk of their advertising income from. And when there’s so many businesses with lots of reviews, how could they ever catch up? Yelp is somehow trying to level that field — in effect hurting the businesses that have been on Yelp for many years and built up reviews by actually providing amazing customer experiences (which is what Yelp supposedly stands by!) – all in attempt to get new businesses to sign up with them.

    Anyways, that’s my blurb – it’s very frustrating – but my guess is Yelp will lose both many paying customers and consumer confidence with this move, both quicker than they think. I will be focusing my efforts towards building my Google presence and reviews there in the future.

    • I generally focus 90% of my efforts on Google but I guess that totally depends on the niche…

  22. We lost our reviews as well (we had well over 20 and now have less than 12). In response, we are going to cancel our monthly spend on yelp, which is about $1,500 and spend it elsewhere. Very frustrating as we worked hard to get those reviews in the first place. Bottom line, we will NEVER use Yelp again as it is far too unpredictable/unethical.

  23. I’m in the under the Notary Category in San Francisco and we went from 68 5 star reviews in October to 29 today 12/14/18. This is scary stuff for small business’s. I hope someone buys Yelp and fixes this garbage. The platform has so much potential, but this is just making things worse for themselves.

    The problem with Yelp is their inconsistent ad revenue. They had a huge sip in the markets for their 4th quarter and then as soon as that happened the review for many started dropping into the not recommended area. They’re probably trying to level the playing field, but this is not the way.

    If any one has used both Adwords and Yelp ads, you know how absurd it is trying to use Yelp ads. The preferences, search terms, geography settings and categories are so general. They do this because they think it will create more revenue for them…but they’re wrong. If you gave people the options like Adwords does to customize their ads, I guarantee a lot more people wold be interested in advertising. That’s just my two cents.

    But to do this to companies that work so hard for their good reviews is so sad. I’m very disappointed and hope that this get’s sorted out.

  24. Like many people on here, our reviews suddenly dropped. At the time I write this post, Yelp is showing ONLY 14 of our reviews and HIDING 38 of them. http://www.yelp.com/biz/one-wave-designs-honolulu

    Of course, our only 2 non-5 Star reviews are shoved up top, one by a reviewer who only has 2 reviews and I know for a fact she left the country a couple of years ago to a place that doesn’t have Yelp, so she’s not active.
    This all happened shortly after I quit responding to their sales calls. We have worked very, very hard to be the top rated company in our area, but now for the first time in over 10 years, I am not a 5 Star Company on Yelp. I hate to say it, but it’s very seriously effected our business. We have less phone calls and emails from new people than ever in 10 years, and December is usually on of our busiest months.
    Of course when I call Yelp, they offer no help, only “$900 in bonus advertising IF I pay them.” Everyone I’ve spoken to their simply does not care. One guy even told me, “I’m not even obligated to talk to you about your reviews. I don’t have to spend anytime talking to you about these reviews because YOU don’t own your reviews. I’m not even obligated to offer you an additional $900 in bonus advertising if you sign up, so I’m really doing you a favor even offering that.”
    It’s terrible how much Yelp can effect and hurt businesses. We work long hours and hard to earn our reputation, only to have Yelp tear it completely down and hurt us.
    I would never pay to advertise my business on Yelp right now. I told them, “Why would I pay you when I have a less than 5 Star Rating for the fist time in over 10 years? Why would I pay to promote my Yelp profile when it’s at it’s worst?” THey only said, “We believe you will be ok, plus we’re offering you a generous $900 bonus.”

    I really, really wish everyone would just simply quit paying Yelp for advertising. They do so much relentless damage. If everyone would stop paying them, they would finally have to respect the businesses they hurt.
    IF you haven’t Googled “Billion Dollar Bully,” you should. It’s a movie being made about their tactics being identical to mob style, extortion tactics.
    STOP PAYING YELP! They’re killing our business for their own profit!

  25. I own a tutoring company and had over 30 reviews for a long time- I think I was at around 37. I checked around Thanksgiving and saw 25 (this ruined my holiday btw) and just checked yesterday and I’m at 19. Another tutoring company I sometimes refer to has gone from 50 to 25.

    I wrote yelp who gave me a pat answer in reply. Then I wrote the following complaint. I would encourage everyone on this thread to go here and file a complaint

    “I more just wanted to file a complaint in hope to be a part of a critical mass that leads you to change this dire mistake in the new algorithm. It seems like the story that yelp has put out there from the beginning with their filtering algorithm is “Do good work, put your yelp emblem out there, and trust that the chips will fall where they may”. I have done that for several years and built up a good yelp (and real life) reputation. Nowhere in there does it say, “Work years to build this up and then yelp will change their algorithm overnight in a way that will make you lose half of your reviews”. This kind of move is just not a way to build a relationship with your customers (in this case, the businesses). You say that this review thing is about building trust. This type of sweeping change is unnerving and undercuts businesses primarily and also the reviewers who take their time to write reviews. It does exactly the opposite of what you intend. I’m telling you because I have been in many email conversations and Facebook conversation with other business owners who have said they are going to start to de-emphasize yelp in their strategies due to the unpredictability (and untrustworthiness in the sense that you sweeping change can be made to remove all of your hard work) of it all. We all understand you have to filter reviews- but this is very excessive and is not helpful to anyone. It won’t be perfect but you have way overstepped. It can’t err on the side of removing the hard work customers have put into having their voice heard and the hard earned reviews our blood, sweat and tears (and lost sleep) as business owners have earned. I hope this is changed before it’s too late.”

    Thanks for writing this. I think I have finally reached a point of abandon with yelp It’s just so extreme what they have done. I love reading through these- I also have dramatic words like review slaughter and massacre coming to mind. I wish we could do more, but, in desperation and panic, it’s nice not to feel alone.

  26. Update: The company I mentioned at the top of this article is now down to 36 recommended reviews. That’s 33.33% of reviews showing…

  27. I’m in the magician (entertainment) category in Phoenix. After having between 29-33 reviews posted the last few years with about 14 hidden/filtered – as of a few weeks ago I’ve been chopped to 14 unfiltered and over 31 filtered. All my reviews are legit.

    One of my local competitors had a similar experience. I’m tired of Yelp. I’ve just deleted thieir app and I will no longer advertise or support them. They are a dying platform. Fir years I’ve known the main territory manager here – and she accurately reflects YELP – a company with far too much swagger that has burned bridges with businesses (long term contracts) and customers.

    Goodbye Yelp. They are ripe for disruption.

  28. Update 12/18/2018: I believe I have discovered why some reviews are being filtered in a new way. Please refer to this updated article: The Yelp Review Purge of 2018.

  29. The slaughterhouse just rolls on. I am baffled that this is still happening. When is yelp going to realize that’ small businesses are their customers? They’re hurting hundreds of small businesses across the states.

    I feel very bad for those who had all their eggs in one basket (yelp).

    I will share a bit of in site on my personal experience.

    Two years ago, yelp hit the moving industry hard. Cities in Seattle, portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago we’re hit big time. We went from 339 reviews down to 204 in that three week span. There were some companies in LA that lost thousands. Those companies too were hit by the recent algorithm change in November. However, several of these companies have started to get their reviews back. Several in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are re populating reviews.

    Not sure if this means it will happen to everyone that’s being affected, but let’s hope so.

  30. To add on to my comment above. I have no idea when it will stop, or if it even will. I will say, I personally will not be looking to rebuild my page. Since late October we have lost 116 reviews. It’s so much work to build a review base. We personally would rather abandon it.

  31. For those who lost reviews, we’re really sorry to hear this. Conceptual Minds has some new information about why Yelp recently changed the review mix on a lot of profiles: ****************************

    • Your comment was deleted because it is spam, it is a junk article and it only spins what I’ve already posted. The icing on the cake is you posting a link to it here in the comments section. Is today your first day on the Internet?

  32. Len, I read your updated article. Thanks for researching more. It’s still a mystery why so many have only lost one or two every other day vs all at once (I’ve lost about 40 since early November)— if it was an algorithm change; and also it’s certainly not applying to everyone. All the businesses below me have maintained the same number of reviews and all have 5 star ratings as well. I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t have even one review that didn’t meet a filter requirement, but I have 40 newly filtered since. I’ll keep following your articles — aside from comments on twitter and the better business bureau, I can’t seem to find much written about such a major change that is affecting so many small businesses — but from those comments I have seen, there’s a lot of upset people out there.

  33. Yes it’s happened to my yelp page Too!
    I have a locksmith business And Yelp mark 55 from 81 review is not recommended!!!

  34. I suspect, based on my initial observations, that the review purging is biased against the highest search ranked businesses.

    Of course the goal can only be to try and increase advertising revenue, therefore my theory is that Yelp is gambling on a strategy of lowering the profiles of the top ranked businesses with the hope that this would force them to begin advertising, if they are not already, or to increase their advertising budget. There is some sense to this thinking . As a longstanding top ranked business, we never felt the need to advertise much on Yelp. What is the point of getting your listing to appear as an ad just few inches higher when you already hold the top # 1, 2 or 3 organic position? Additionally, these top ranked businesses are likely the ones with the most means to spend heavily on ads. Of course, this goes completely against the whole purported concept of ranking business according to customers ratings and feedback. Could Yelp have gone so far as to turn that upside down in order to try and save a sinking ship?

  35. I have also noticed that the purge takes place at 4 am est.

  36. We share ALL your pain. We have recently suffered from the Yelp SLAM. One of our dental brands with stellar reviews across all platforms also has a Yelp page. Yelp deleted ALL of our 5 star ratings leaving the 1 bad review we had. Unbelievable. I move that we all start a CHANGE.ORG movement to get Yelp shut down!

  37. Please see new information in my updated article, The Yelp Purge of 2018:
    https://www.telapost.com/yelp-purge-2018/

  38. Well I might be a winner lol
    From 14 reviews in September went down to 8 in October to 2 by ending of November to 1 as of today , I had all 5 starts working hard since open biz in southernn California in 2017 , now just to one.

    Here how start imo
    I request API key so could display my 5 stars reviews on my worldpress website. Since than calls from yelp about advertising with them tripped to few per week. That time “gentlemen” called me from yelp and same old same old told me he’s my new representative and trying sell me advertising on yelp . After explaining him that I’m not interested Bc I’m middle of doing extra certifications and I might be interested but not till I will finish them witch will be eaither late 2019 or early 2020 year. And than he told me that: “ well I will follow up with you in few more months and we will see what you will have to say than ( I had many many phone calls and email since than anyway coming form yelp witch I didn’t respond to) , he said eaither you like it or not yelp is and will be part of your business “ and he hang up.

    I looked other competition in my area some ppl who having less than 5stars reviews seems to stay intact , one business that to be honest even that is my competition had 250+ 5 stars reviews , currently went down to 110 , I looked him and see that still only 4 reviews out of that he has have 1 star , that’s not even 1% but his 5 star went to 4 and orange color. I think they might give him pass now since they accomplish his 5 stars perfect rating.

    I’ll be honest that guy from yelp is right about that unfortunately Yelp is part of the anybody business witch is listed on yelp. Automatically yelp reviews will show up on Apple maps and bing/yahoo searching. One thing I don’t agree with that is that will be part of life forever. Them stocks no matter if market was going up or down just going down. With that business practice and online competition growing just matter of years that yelp will be history.

    Personally I would recommend any business out there to use FREE social advertising via FB Nextdoor ( Nextdoor is great ) Twitter Instagram etc , for paying use wisely keywords and advertising on google and bing ( you can manage everything yourself , budget , demographics, etc ) FB ads are cheap too for $15 in 14 days I can hit 400-500 views locally so even few calls from that will pay back.

    Wish everybody best of luck
    Merry Christmas happy new year
    And to yelp go to hell !

  39. I went from 131 5 star reviews to 95 in less than a month.

  40. Down to 29 from 80 and still dropping every day. One of my competitors had 359 when this started for me and they are still at 359. They advertise heavy. This is clear cherrypicking of higher rated non-advertisering firms.

    • Hi James, Be sure to see the new information in my updated post: The Yelp Purge of 2018. I wonder if they had a mix of reviews and you all/mostly 5 stars. Any input on that would be greatly appreciated..

  41. Hello I’m a makeup artist and spray tanner in Ventura California. I have 36 reviews total. Currently only 3 show. In September 31 of the were recommended. And every couple days they started to dwindle until now there is only 3 left. All of my local industry friends have also been impacted losing several reviews
    https://yelp.to/qTKq/AlDlykovaT

  42. I have a mobile tanning business in Portland. I worked so hard for my reviews and I really was picking up momentum. Sadly I am only shown 3 out of 20 5 star reviews now. I do not compensate clients to post either. They were all fairly earned

  43. Our company lost ALL but one 3 star review although it was actually positive all people are going to see is that 3 star and think we aren’t a good company.

    We’ve been in business and an advertising subscriber for 2 years now. I don’t think I will be after this.

  44. I have owned a finer men’s clothing store in So California for 36years. http://Www.jdavids.com We have prided ourselves in incredible customer service and I literally check our Yelp reviews on a DAILY basis. There was always the fluctuation of a couple reviews per week or so and we maintained a solid 5-star status. I had tried to contact Yelp long ago when 20% of the reviews were considered Not Recommended. In October we had 170 Reviews displayed and 30 Not Recommended. A total of 200 on the nose. End October as I recall was the first HUGE drop. We now sit at 111 recommended and 102 Not Recommended. 101 of the 102 are 5 Star Reviews! The reason for my being totally irate is that last week we were at a precipice of if they just dropped 1 more review we would fall to 4 1/2 stars which would be a disaster for us! It takes 10 5-star reviews to counter 1 1-star review so to lose 101 5-star reviews is devastating!!

  45. I’ve an cell phone repair business for the last 4.5 years and with over 105 recommended 5 star reviews and now with the new algorithm since November my reviews dropped over 50-60 percent to not recommended reviews .
    I’ve only 50 recommended reviews with 4.5 stars and 107 filtered not recommended reviews now . My reviews was dropping each day since November ..
    Our reviews are hard earned and we strive to provide the best repair services to the customers ..
    It’s just devastating to see our reviews dropping to not recommended or filtered reviews

  46. Same problem with my business. I design websites and also provide marketing services to small businesses. So, Yelp is a BIG focus for my own marketing as well as most of my clients.

    I went from having 18 reviews showing to (now) 8, with the rest (29) filtered, or “not recommended.” WTF? These are all legitimate reviews. What’s more, quite a few of those that are not recommended have multiple reviews and friends on Yelp.

    Whatever Yelp is doing is not working for me, and I am considering discontinuing my advertising program with them as the only form of protest I have available.

    Yes, I know that there is supposedly no connection between advertising and reviews. But it might at least get their attention.

  47. Interesting I just had another review this week after finishing a 3 month project, So I figured I would do some Yelp adverting middle of next month, went to my business page,and lost all but the latest review to the not recommended filter
    Called Adv Rep: was given People trust yelp because of the algorithms bah de blah.
    I checked a couple of the local small businesses and their numbers are similar 2-4 active reviews and dozens of non recommended,.

    Needless to say I Told The yelp adv rep I see no reason to advertise (koff pay them) if they are not publishing genuine reviews

  48. Man oh man am I grateful to have read this. Yelp has been hiding all of my positive, legitimate reviews and then is constantly contact me asking if I’m interested in “expanding” my business. It’s extremely unfortunate. Yelp is such crap to small businesses and ultimately doing a great job of manipulating the public – I really feel like this needs to be investigated further and that serious advocating measures should be taken to inspire a change.

  49. OMg I had the same I had 52 5 star reviews and yelp starting in NOV wiped me down to 28 . Sine we have had about 5 legitimate reviews from patients that LOVEDE our office and yelp removed those and others and no I am down to 22 5 stars but of course the one star reviews stay put.
    IT is beyond unfair and I find it hard to believe that this is fair and they have not had a government intervention for unfair business practices.

  50. I own a tour company in San Francisco, and more than 50% of our total reviews have been thrown in the “not recommended” section. I cancelled my Yelp ads and will never advertise with Yelp until they stop biting the hands that feed them.

  51. Great article. There is NOT enough info on this being published online.

    We have a company (Watercraft Adventures Rentals) with 7 locations in business for 27 years. All are in NV except one in AZ that competes with other local companies there.

    Our AZ operation in Bullhead City which gets 95% 5 Star reviews has lost almost all our great reviews. We have 14 through the filter and 117 NOT RECOMMENDED!

    Ironically, our Laughlin flagship location at Harrahs Laughlin has 45 through the filter and 13 not recommended which is in line with local averages. We are pretty certain turning our seasonal pay per click ads off is having a negative affect.

    Would love to hear from anyone with similar issues.

  52. I went from 48/60 to 21/62 reviews being shown. Their algorithm clearly can’t discern what the truth is either. If a review is legitimate, then why would it disappear and then reappear and disappear again? I never known the truth to be fluid, but I guess it depends who you are.

    This has certainly impacted my business as I went from getting clients regularly from Yelp to a sliver. While the stars matter, the count matters just as much because no one wants to go somewhere that is not visited. Their whole ecosystem makes no sense. Hey- we are on Yelp, but I can’t tell you to review me, but I want to get the hint by me flashing little stickers on my website and business. If you don’t ask someone to dance- you will be standing around all night. Like most things in life, someone has to take the initiative if anything is to happen. I understand they want to preserve review integrity. However, I think even if the shadiest business paid 1000 random people to leave 5 star reviews. If they can’t deliver that level of service they are representing, the market will quickly correct that 5 star because people will clearly see that reality fails to meet expectations. The real truth is always going to come out.

    I don’t want to believe that their algorithm is tied to you paying for their ads, but it can be hard to feel that way without transparency. One frustration I’ve always had about paying for any ads is that you don’t have a way to truly gauge if that click was a legit lead or if it’s some SEO wiz or competitor clicking on your ads. With their ads, they always tout the user views with Yelp ads metric at important- but anyone knows who works in retail can tell the difference between a window shopper and a serious buyer. Calls to the biz and clicks to the website should be the only thing that gets them paid.

    I’m not surprised their revenue took a beating in November. I expect it’s going to take some more too because I’ve cut the advertising budget significantly with them. The irony of this whole situation is that for a company that is so focused on helping customers, they sure don’t take very good care of their own.

    Google reviews it is.

  53. I hovered around 120 visible reviews for a few years and then in late 2018 it reduced to my current level of 67. My visible reviews were cut in half. I have 99 filtered and 67 unfiltered. I own a Chiropractic Office and my closest competitor is know within a few reviews of my total. His number of reviews has not changed though. I analyzed his visible reviews and many of them have only one review, zero friends or zero content on their profile, yet they’re still visible. He does have a much more elaborate Yelp page that you can only get if you pay for. I know it’s been said that it’s only coincidental, but is it?

  54. This article has been incredibly important to me because I have been going crazy watching my good reviews go down the toilet in Yelps unrecommended column. I am a building contractor so it is extremely hard for me to get excellent reviews because most jobs take months to get an every detail has to be perfect or I get bad reviews. I have a total of 68 reviews.I have all 5 star reviews except one review where I did not want to give the lady a bid and she gave me a bad review for that. Each and every person I have worked for has given me five stars. At one time I had 58 showing. I understand from yelps point of view that they filtered out ten reviews and that seems normal. Well since November of last years all my hard earned reviews have left. I now have only 15 showing. That is 78% of my excellent hard earned reviews are gone. I have had people give reviews with pictures, I have had people that have given me reviews that had given over 75 reviews. I have had long detailed relevant reviews and they are all basically gone. I am down to one review for 2018 and the rest are older. I have 16 reviews for 2018 and 2019 that are in the toilet and each and every new review gets hidden. It is beyond frustrating how my last 16 reviews have all gone away. Not one new review has stuck and it makes us look like we havent done one job since March of 2018. I call yelp and they have their canned replies like the users didn’t have enough replies, there wasn’t relevant content etc. etc. Well being all my new reviews are gone I don’t look relevant any longer and it has hurt my business. When I call yelp about it they sent me a salesperson. The salesperson said well since you don’t have that many reviews up what you now need to so is advertise more! So yelp has taken all my reviews away even though they were relevant, good quality, many with pictures and many of the reviewers with over 10 reviews and guess what? There solution is for me to advertise more with them. What is even more amazing is my biggest competitor is also a building contractor whom had his first review in 2017 so his company is not that old. He has a total of 14 reviews and 12 are showing and 2 are in the unrecommended column. He has 84 percent showing and I have 78 percent not showing. He even has reviews where the reviewer has one review and the review has stayed. So I asked my salesperson yesterday if the contractor advertises with Yelp. He said they do but would not give any other information. It’s funny that my biggest competitor has has only 3 less reviews showing than myself, has been in business for two years and advertises with yelp. If something isn’t wrong here I don’t know what is. Yelp is not only not fair but hurting businesses badly and just doesnt care. I don’t know what to do because pretty soon I will have no reviews even showing. It is sad that a review site built on reviews has all my reviews hidden. Oh and one more note, I called one of my newest clients and said thank you very much for writing the review, I am sorry it went into the unrecommended column. He said no it didn’t it shows on my account that it is showing. So I called another client whose review is gone and she said her reviews show as well. So yelp lets people whom write reviews think their reviews are showing because they don’t want to make them mad and stop writing reviews. Yet they hide the reviews of business people while asking for more money to up the advertising. It is so unethical, mean and cruel to do this to people. It has hurt me badly. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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