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Getting Yelp reviews (and responding to negative ones)

Here’s what small-business owners need to know about getting Yelp reviews and responding to negative Yelp reviews.

Hopefully you’ve already claimed your business account on Yelp. If not, go do it now. Please. I’ll wait.


In 2018, you cannot ignore Yelp. Often, your prospects will check you out on Yelp and make their decision before they contact you. It’s absolutely critical to look your best on Yelp and other popular review platforms.

Getting reviews

First, you need to know that most review sites forbid the practice of asking for reviews. Yelp is serious about this. If you want to keep your position in Yelp’s search, you can’t ask your customers for reviews or incentivize reviews in any way.

If you’re currently giving anything away in exchange for reviews—or even directly asking people to post reviews on third-party websites—you may want to have a look at the fine print on Yelp and the other review sites you use.

Here are ways to encourage reviews without asking for them directly:

  1. Put the stickers review sites send you up in your window. (Request your Yelp sticker here.)
  2. Let people know you’re on Yelp, Google, and other review sites. You can tell them you’re there without asking for reviews.
  3. Put links to your review-site profiles on your homepage. Yelp has an embed feature, which makes it easy to share reviews to your website. (Details here.) Or you can use the site’s logos, but be sure to follow their branding rules. (You can get Yelp images and see their requirements here.)
  4. Respond to all genuine reviews, good and bad. Responding in a professional, friendly way to every (or almost every) review shows that you care about your customers’ experience, and your customers will be more likely to leave reviews when they others doing so.

Responding to negative Yelp reviews:

  1. In responding to negative Yelp reviews, stay cool. First, determine whether the review is in violation of Yelp’s content guidelines or review guidelines. If so, contact Yelp directly and ask them to remove the review. Let them know which guidelines the review violates.
  2. If you receive a genuine negative review, use Yelp’s direct messaging system or contact the reviewer personally to try to resolve the situation. Provide a tangible solution (like a free class so they can try your service again) and ask them to consider removing or updating their review if they think the solution is acceptable. Let them know that they’ll be unable to remove their review on the mobile app but will be able to do it from a computer by going to “about me” and then “reviews.”
  3. Consider a public reply in responding to negative Yelp reviews. Show sympathy, state the facts, and calmly explain the situation. Offer to work with the customer via email or phone to resolve their issue. If you do it right, a public reply to negative reviews can make you look good to potential customers.

Now that you’re set up on Yelp and armed with this knowledge, you can use it as a tool to gain the trust of your current and future customers.

Go forth and crush it.

Your Partner in Growth,


P.S. Please do not pay someone to manage your Yelp profile! This is truly unnecessary. If you’re paying someone to do this, end your contract now. It’s really something you can do yourself, and it takes very little time.

P.P.S. Have you tried a new-client special? Choose from the list and email me at to get started. Don’t know where to begin? I’ll help you choose! Schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Call so we can chat about growing your business through content and copy.

New-client specials—Choose as many as you like for $97 each (normally $125). Limit one of each type per client.

  • $97 Website usability audit–I’ll look through your site and give you a full report on user experience, content, and copy. You’ll get at least five ways to improve your website.
  • $97 Email–This can be any email you like. I recommend something you’ll get a lot of mileage from, like a welcome email or a sales letter that you can send to your email list.
  • $97 Blog topic list–I’ll create a list of 20 blog posts that will be of interest to your audience, demonstrate your authority, and build trust. This includes attention-grabbing headlines.
  • Other new-client services are available. Email me at for details about a landing page, a survey, a Facebook ad, or a writing analysis.

About the Author Sarah Foster

I’m Sarah Jenne Foster. I’m a proud Texan (no, I don’t own a horse or a cowboy hat); an experienced teacher; the loving caregiver of two kids, two cats, and a frog; and a tireless advocate of the serial comma. I'm on a mission to use the power of words to help businesses that serve children and families.

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