We’re Increasing Transparency and Eliminating ‘Favorite Review’

User trust is the foundation on which Yelp is built and the reason 31 million consumers turned to the site last month to find a great local business. Today we’re announcing two important product changes to reinforce that trust and make it even more clear that Yelp treats review content equally for all businesses, with no connection between advertising and reviews.

Specifically, we’re adding the ability to see reviews filtered by our review filter and we’re discontinuing the “Favorite Review” feature that’s part of our advertising package.

Why? Because while Yelp has seen tremendous growth in just a few years, we’re still new to a lot of people. Despite our best efforts to educate consumers and the small business community, myths about Yelp have persisted. We’ve said all along we believe these incorrect notions stem from the combination of the filter and this advertising feature — and we’re practicing what we preach. Lifting the veil on our review filter and doing away with “Favorite Review” will make it even clearer that displayed reviews on Yelp are completely independent of advertising — or any sort of manipulation. We also hope it will demonstrate the importance of a safeguard such as our filter and the unique challenge we face daily to maintain the integrity of the review content on our site.

Now you can take a look at any business listing on Yelp and see for yourself the work the review filter has done behind the scenes. Perhaps helping to protect one business from malicious reviews that might stem from a competitor.

Or, conversely, protecting consumers from reviews that look like they could have come from an employee, not a customer.

But most importantly, you can see that Yelp’s review filter works just the same for advertisers and non-advertisers alike. There is not — nor ever has been — a bias. So will Yelp be easier to game now? No, our engineers remain hard at work to make sure that Yelp is the most useful and helpful online resource for everyone. Additionally, while the “Favorite Review” feature as part of our ad product was clearly labeled as such, it led some people to the wrong conclusions about whether businesses could control the review content on their
page. (They can’t.) So, to eliminate the opportunity for that misconception, we’ve eliminated the feature.

These aren’t the only changes we’ve made today. We’ve also announced that advertisers on Yelp will soon have the ability to add a video to the slide show on their business page — a suggestion made most recently during Yelp’s ongoing series of educational meetings with business owners across the country. Additionally, in an effort to more formally integrate feedback from the business community, we’ve created a Small Business Advisory Council whose members will provide Yelp management with guidance and perspective regarding the concerns of small business owners.

Most consumers probably won’t notice the product changes announced here, but we hope this new ability to “look under the hood” will help everyone understand the lengths we’ve taken to ensure Yelp is the most trusted resource on the internet for connecting people with great local businesses.