How to Avoid Yelp Traps: Tip #1

This is part of a series of articles: How to Avoid Getting Trapped by Yelp’s Self-Centered Algorithm.

As I have said previously in many places, small businesses who don’t take care to set themselves up properly from Day 1 may quickly find themselves to be unintentional victims of Yelp’s self-centered algorithm.

One of the most important things to consider early on in your relationship with Yelp is the email address you will use when you claim your business account.

Using an owner’s personal address is a very bad idea. Even using your general customer service email is potentially fatal.

Here is why.

When an individual — one of your customers for example — joins Yelp, they are immediately pressured to share their facebook contacts and email contacts with Yelp. Most people fall for it.

Yelp tells new users that sharing this info will immediately connect them with their friends on Yelp. And since most people are suckers for almost any promise of added convenience (myself included), we fall for it and click OK.

However, this is a very bad idea. The minute we do that, Yelp knows who we have prior relationships with. So if your email address is in my contacts or if we are connected on Facebook, Yelp assumes we are genuinely friends.

So if I review your business of Yelp, my review is likely to be suppressed, hidden or otherwise discounted — because Yelp assumes that our prior connection creates a conflict of interest.

It is essential, therefore, for businesses who are claiming their business accounts on Yelp to use a clean email address. By clean, I mean an email address such as yelp@example.com that will not be in anybody’s contact list.

Setting up a clean email address will help you avoid what I call Yelp’s Prior Relationships Trap. It takes a few minutes to do, but it is absolutely essential if you want to increase the chances of reviews by friends and family to actually be displayed on your Yelp business page.