Yelp! Reviews: What’s Fake and What’s Real?

Yelp is one of the largest community based review sites for restaurants. It’s a trusted source for millions, and as such, positive and negative reviews can have a big impact on restaurant bottom lines. The importance of the site has given rise to many fake reviews, referred to as “astroturfing” written by business owners and reputation management firms. Yelp has an algorithm which keeps out the majority of these reviews though some manage to make it through:

Michael Luca of the Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas of Boston University investigated a large subset in Boston:

Luca and Zervas analyzed 316,415 reviews for 3,625 Boston-area restaurants written between 2004 through 2012, all of which Yelp had already flagged as potentially fraudulent. These “filtered” reviews about 25 percent of the 42 million total reviews submitted for all businesses. Luca and Zervas found 16 percent of reviews for Boston restaurants weren’t legitimate. Article Source

The majority of the fake reviews were made by restaurants with a weak reputation. Chain restaurants were less likely to write fake reviews. “Those that faced more regional competition might write positive reviews for themselves and leave negative reviews for competitors.”

Despite the issues I use Yelp frequently. What sites do you use before patronizing a business?


2 comments on “Yelp! Reviews: What’s Fake and What’s Real?

  1. I use Yelp regularly to find restaurant in cities other than my own, a low. I also use it for my own city. I used to write reviews pretty regularly, but this year I pretty much stopped. I think I have over 300 reviews. I didn’t like their business practices. I find it really easy to spot a fake review or simply a pissed off customer who maybe had a one time bad experience.

    • If most of the reviews are both positive and fairly recent I’m willing to check out an establishment. I agree most fake reviews sound so generic that you can dismiss them almost instantly.

      Thanks for the comment. Hope you’re doing well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: