Our client runs a small boutique shop in Philadelphia. They are a lovely middle-aged couple who just want to share their passions with a growing customer base. The shop itself doesn’t drive enough revenue to keep them in the black. A significant portion of their revenue comes from offering a series of educational seminars to the public.
Once they started offering public lectures, they brought in the larger company to help manage and run them. After a few years, the relationship soured and our client found himself in competition with the very company he was once in partnership with.
He needed his company to survive and was willing to try almost anything. He slashed his prices, he offered discounts through Groupon, he partnered with charities, he paid a small fortune to PR people. None of it worked.
Then he contacted us. We explained what we did, and he agreed. We warned him we were the blackhat option. We would not be nice or charitable to his competition. We would destroy them. After a while, he agreed: he wanted to stay in business.
The only way his company was going to survives was if his competitor’s Yelp score dropped and his score went up.
When we began, his competitor had a sterling Yelp score of 5. We warned our client that the process was going to take time, possibly up to three years for the full project. But, we said, we would guarantee a small drop in his competition’s Yelp score almost right away.
We also gave him the promise we give all our clients: if you don’t see a drop in your competitor’s Yelp score, we will refund 100% of our fee.
The first thing we did was pour through the positive reviews, looking for weaknesses to exploit. A few items we look for are
- Location of Reviewer
- Positive Language Used
- Length of Review
- Number of Reviews
- Number of Friends
We found a few reviewers that fit those criteria. Here is one example:
There were many more. There was “Jean-Pierre P. ” with only 2 reviews and 7 friends. “Melissa F.” and “Megan D.” both with zero friends and only one short review each. All in all, we located over a dozen 5-star reviews. Our seasoned yelpers (including a few Elites) flagged each and every one of their five star reviews.
Exploiting the Yelp Filter
Once we located the weakest reviews, we started working our magic. Our team of avid yelpers started flagging those positive reviews. Employees at Yelp look very closely at manually flagged reviews.
- The farther away a Yelper is to the business, the more likely it can get filtered.
- If the review is full of exclamation points and overly positive phrases, the easier it is to get filtered.
- Any review under 450 words is pretty easy to get manually filtered.
- Yelp accounts with less than 20 friends and/or reviews are easy prey for the filter gods.
To Yelp, it just looks like good citizens are identifying fake reviews. The more reviews our team gets flagged, the easier it becomes to flag other reviews. A little-known fact about Yelp is that they have an internal metric that ranks how many fake reviews a business gets. The higher that ranking, the easier it is for bad reviews to stick and good reviews to get filtered.
By the time we were done, we crushed over 25% of their 5-star reviews. A little-known fact about Yelp is that dropping positive reviews into the filter is pretty easy. Sure, the competitor still was highly rated, but now they were vulnerable.
Within weeks, our client’s competitor yelp score dropped from 5 stars to 4.5.
Going In For the Kill
We keep a cadre of 20 fake accounts we use for truly dirty work. These are maintained by our staff and have only one purpose: character assassination. While we cannot show you links to any of our current accounts, we do have a few retired accounts we can show.
In 2017, one of our favorite accounts for reputation destruction is Chad C . He wasn’t a real person, but he always fooled Yelp, and he fooled our targets, too. It was a shame we had to retire him, but we only use accounts a half dozen times for clients. After that, we add two years of positive reviews to keep the account active and ensure that the negative reviews stay up.
We then use auxiliary accounts to vote up any and all negative reviews. We use local IP address to create fake reviews like Nancy G to vote up the negative reviews we create. This ensures that negative reviews stay out of the filter.
Want to know more?
We’ll be sending you an information packet soon. We vett all email address before we send out our unedited white paper and guidelines. That is to ensure Yelp’s people NEVER get their hands on our proprietary hacks.