Fake Yelp Reviews: How To Spot & Tackle Them

Jul 25, 2023 9 min read

Yelp is the go-to review site for businesses, especially those in the services and hospitality sector. Founded back in 2004, Yelp has grown to host over 184 million reviews, covering various businesses like shopping, restaurants, and home services.

Consumers love Yelp too! About 45% of them read Yelp reviews before making a purchase decision.

But just like other review platforms, Yelp is no stranger to fake reviews. They can come from unhappy customers, trolls, and even your competitors, trying to mess with your reputation.

So, have you come across a fake review? Here's what you should do next. Let's dive in!

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How To Spot Fake Yelp Reviews: 6 Easy Ways

Use of pronouns like I and me: A study by Cornell University found that people leaving online reviews tend to use terms like "I" and "me" more often. It's interesting, and you can guess they do it to enhance their own credibility.

How To Spot Fake Yelp Reviews

Check the dates of reviews: If you notice a bunch of reviews left in a short time frame, it should raise a red flag for you as well.

Fake reviews are often either five-star or one-star reviews: You rarely come across a fake three-star review.

How To Spot Fake Yelp Reviews

Lack of language skills: If you come across terms like "bespoke" (custom) or "trading" (operating), or mention of a price in USD, it could be an indication that the reviewer is from overseas.

Generic names or no photo attached to the review: If you suspect a reviewer's authenticity, click on their image to see more of their content and any responses from business owners.

How To Spot Fake Yelp Reviews

Hate speech or abusive language: Look for extreme or overly emotional language, excessive use of capital letters, excessive exclamation marks, or repetitive phrases. Fake Yelp reviews use extreme language to either praise or criticize a product excessively.

How To Remove Fake Yelp Reviews

Claim Your Yelp Business Profile

This step is important because it gives you the power to respond to customer complaints and report any issues to Yelp's review management team.

Take the time to fill out your page with all the necessary details - your address, contact info, operating hours, and some pictures of your business or products.

The more info you provide, the better impression you will make on potential customers, especially if you are a small business aiming to keep up a positive image.

Claim Your Yelp Business Profile

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Have The Reviewer Remove The Review

This is the simplest way to deal with fake Yelp reviews. Your first go-to step is to have the author remove their own review. It might not always be possible, but it's worth a shot.

On the Yelp mobile app, reviewers can't remove their reviews. So, let them know they should log in through a computer to delete their review.

They can go to the "About me" section, then click on "reviews," and finally, hit the little trash bin icon at the bottom right next to the review. If they want to edit the review, they can do that on the app, like changing the star rating or altering the wording.

Ask them nicely to consider removing or editing the review, and you might just have a chance to resolve the issue.

Respond To Fake Yelp Reviews

It's not the end of the road - you still have another option: replying to the review. But be cautious with this approach!

If the customer's review seems like a whiny rant or completely unreasonable, it's best not to respond. Sometimes, people will see it for what it is and ignore the review.

When crafting your response, choose your words carefully. Your reply's tone is just as essential as the content itself. Here's what you can do:

  • Ask the unhappy customer to contact you directly to resolve the issue.
  • Respond in a way that clarifies the situation for others who might read the review.
  • Be helpful and avoid getting into arguments.
  • If the review is fake, state that you don't have a record of the reviewer as a customer.

Report Reviews That Violate Yelp’s TOS

If the fake Yelp reviews violate Yelp's terms of service, you should report them to the platform for immediate removal.

Here are some examples of customer feedback that you should report:

  • Harassment
  • Threats of violence
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Irrelevant content
  • Fake Yelp reviews
  • Promotional material
  • Private information

To report a Yelp review, just click on the three dots next to the fake review and select "report review." The Yelp moderators will then assess the situation and decide whether the review actually violated their terms of service and should be removed or not.

Keep in mind that the process might take a few days, but you can check the status anytime. Just hover your cursor over the flag icon next to the review. Once the moderators complete their evaluation, they will let you know their decision.

Even if the fake review remains, don't worry too much. Yelp's automated software might still recognize it as unhelpful or unreliable and hide it behind more useful reviews. So, reporting those violations can make a difference!

Report Reviews That Violate Yelp’s TOS

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Make Them Irrelevant

It's infuriating when your competitors or ex-employees spread falsehoods about your business. It can rile up even the most composed business owner.

What you can do here is build a solid review system with loads of genuine reviews. Did you know over 88% of Yelp reviews are 4 or 5 stars? So, the more reviews you have, the better your chances of having an overall high rating. Those fake reviews won't even matter, then!

Take Legal Action

This should be your last resort. You would need strong evidence to show that the review is defamatory, libelous, or a malicious attempt by a competitor to harm your business reputation.

Going to court can draw unwanted attention to your business, so be cautious. If things don't go your way in court, your bad situation could turn into a disaster.

But, if a court of law does determine that the reviews are indeed defamatory, you will get those fake Yelp reviews removed. Explore other options first before heading to court, as it can be a tricky and risky path to take.

What Not To Do With Fake Yelp Reviews

What Not To Do With Fake Yelp Reviews

Don’t Flag The Review As Inaccurate

Yelp doesn't take sides in such situations where the reviewer and business owner disagree on the facts, and they even say it themselves. So, even if the review is totally false, don’t bother arguing with Yelp about factual truths.

Don’t Retaliate

Resist the urge to reply to their comment on Yelp with anger. Yelp's filter sees reviews with replies or upvotes as more legit, so you don't want to add fuel to the fire.

So, what's the best move here? Wait because the review might get filtered on its own. You can always send them a private message, but if they are being malicious, don't expect them to back down easily.

Don’t Spam Your Page With Positive Reviews

It might seem like a good idea, but your users are smart enough to understand that it's fake. You don't want that!

Also, don't be tempted to write reviews yourself or ask your friends and family to do it. That's against Yelp's terms of service, and you don't want to get in trouble for that.

Reasons For The Occurrence Of Fake Yelp Reviews

You know what? Yelp has its fair share of fraud issues, just like other review platforms. They have a review filter that's supposed to catch anything violating their terms of service, but sadly, some false reviews still slip through.

Now, spotting fake Yelp reviews might not be easy for the average consumer, but we've got your back. Keep an eye out for these red flags:

Reasons For The Occurrence Of Fake Yelp Reviews

Disgruntled Former Employees

Ex-employees who got fired or feel mistreated might seek revenge by posting dishonest reviews to slander your business. If you suspect employees are behind it, check out job review sites too.

Personal Enemies

Your own enemies or your employees' foes might try to pull your business reputation down. Sounds illogical, but it happens more often than you think.


This one's a classic in many industries. Competitors may create fake accounts or even pay real people to post negative reviews about your business. They might recommend their own business in the process.

Accidental Posts

People can make honest mistakes too. Someone might post a negative review on the wrong Yelp business page by accident. It happens, but it's still irrelevant to your business.

So, when you come across one of these bad Yelp reviews, respond appropriately. Even if the complaint is completely fabricated, be professional and apologize.

Politely let the Yelp user know that you can't find any record of their transaction. This shows other "Yelpers" that you take customer service seriously. Plus, it casts doubt on the authenticity of that fake review.

Examples Of Legitimate Negative Yelp Reviews

There's a thin line between fake Yelp reviews and negative ones.

Negative feedback happens, and actually, having only positive reviews can look a bit suspicious.

It's important to also know which Yelp review might be negative feedback from a genuine customer so that you avoid removing them.

Let's explore a few reasons why customers might leave negative Yelp reviews:

Negative shopping experiences: Maybe an employee wasn't on their best behavior or the customer couldn't find what they were looking for. Those experiences can lead to negative complaints.

Product or service not meeting expectations: If a product or service doesn't live up to what was advertised, customers won't be too pleased. The same goes for when refunds are tricky to obtain. Mismatched expectations or defective products are sure to trigger negative complaints.

Honest mistakes: A cashier might have given incorrect change or left something out of a customer's bag. These unintentional errors can lead to customer frustration online.

Constructive criticism: Some customers genuinely want to help you improve. It's especially common with new businesses. They might point out areas where your business could use some improvement or where your customer service needs a boost. Take their advice to heart and use it to better your business.

Examples Of Legitimate Negative Yelp Reviews

Ready To Tackle Fake Yelp Reviews!

If you do get a legitimate low star rating, respond using your business account. Offer a sincere apology and take quick action to resolve the issue. If you go the extra mile, you might even persuade the customer to delete their negative review.

Fake Yelp reviews can really hurt your pride, but don't let them damage your business reputation. If you come across a damaging and false review, you can ask Yelp to take it down.

Keep an eye on those reviews and make sure your business image stays in good shape. Don't let those fake reviews bring you down!

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Here are some commonly asked questions on fake Yelp reviews:

Does Yelp delete fake reviews?

Yes, Yelp does delete fake reviews. They have a team of human moderators who review potential issues flagged up by business owners, community users, or its own automated systems. If a review is found to be fake, it will be removed from the platform.

How does Yelp stop fake reviews?

Yelp's software uses algorithms to identify and filter out reviews that are likely to be untrustworthy, fake, or ranting. The software then selects about 75% of the remaining reviews to be "recommended" as high-quality, trustworthy reviews that were most likely written by real people.

Why do reviews disappear from Yelp?

Here are 3 reasons why reviews might disappear from Yelp:

  • The review was flagged as fake and removed by Yelp
  • The review was written by a user who has since been banned from Yelp
  • The review was simply deleted by the user who wrote it
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Rushali Das

Rushali is a B2B SaaS content writer who specializes in writing research-driven blog posts around marketing for B2B SaaS brands.

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