Over the years people have come to use Yelp to find out about how good a restaurant or local business is before they decide to become patrons. Several 5 star lengthy reviews at the top of the page will help a business attract new customers, while negative 1 star reviews may deter new and previous customers alike.
You may think you can trust these reviews because they seem to be written by legitimate customers with real experiences and that every single review is visible, sadly that isn't always the case.
What many Yelp users and business owners may not realize is that Yelp is a social network with its own set of algorithms and rules. It is also a business out to make money for its services. Not all reviews are seen for each business. So we have to ask, why can't we see all reviews good and bad?
Is it possible that, for a price, Yelp will make the good reviews visible and the bad ones get lost somewhere out in cyberspace? Many business owners have claimed over the years that if they don't pay for ads or upgrade their Yelp pages, suddenly old negative reviews would resurfaced and the new 5 star ratings disappeared. Some claim that they were told by sales representatives that Yelp would even hide negative reviews if they paid for ads.
In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco actually gave Yelp legal permission to change reviews for money after several small business owners took them to court. The company denied they were biased to paying customers and it is all based on random algorithms, even if it was completely legal. This is why more businesses and users are not taking the review site so seriously anymore. Many small businesses simply can't afford the advertising to keep their company in a positive light.
It is always good to get a second opinion for anything. There are plenty more good review sites out there, such as Google My Business and Facebook, that is why you just may want to take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt.