The Yelp Review Filter


I recently wrote a post discussing the importance of having a system for getting online reviews. In one section, I broke down different review sites and which ones are most important to ask for reviews on. The top two, in my opinion, are Google+ Local and Yelp.

While there are other sites, such as Avvo, that are relevant for the legal industry, Yelp and Google both play important roles in the local search ecosystem and should be prioritized in your efforts. The importance of getting reviews on your Google profile should be obvious as it impacts your local visibility in search. Yelp’s importance got a boost with the release of Apple’s iOS 6 and integration of Yelp into Apple Maps.

However, a comment left on my post about online reviews made a good point about the Yelp review filter that many attorneys may not be aware of:

….For your next post you should consider talking about Yelp and their filter. It’s often not enough to get satisfied clients to post a review on Yelp because if it is their only review it WILL be filtered. You almost have to ask them to review up to 10 other businesses (restaurants, spa, health club, etc.) in order for the review to stick.


While I don’t think it’s a good practice to ask someone to leave a testimonial for 10 other businesses besides your own, the larger point here is to understand that legitimate reviews are susceptible to Yelp’s review filter.

What Is The Yelp Review Filter?

In the following post, Yelp explains what their review filter is and how it works. Here is a short video as well:

To summarize, I’ve pulled a few over-arching concepts about how the filter works directly from the artice:

  • Reviews that reflect perfectly legitimate experiences are sometimes filtered out by the review filter’s algorithmic processes.
  • Reviews are never “deleted” by the review filter; they are always shown on users’ profile pages (but will not necessarily show up on the business’s page)
  • We’re purposely not elaborate about all the variables that go into defining an “established” user, because it’s a Catch-22: the more descriptive we are about what makes an established user, the less effective our filter is at fighting shills and malicious content.
  • Both positive and negative reviews can be affected.

So What Does This Mean For My Firm?

This means that while you need to be conscientious about getting reviews on Yelp, you might want to be strategic about asking people if they use Yelp frequently to review businesses. If they don’t than perhaps it makes more sense to direct them to your Avvo or Google+ Local profile (Although Google recently implemented a similar type of review filter) if they have more active review accounts there. If however they are a frequent Yelp user/reviewer they are more likely to be considered an “established” user and their reviews are more likely to remain visible and active.