5 Tips on How to Get Good Yelp Reviews

If you have a small business, you know how important referrals and word of mouth are to grow your revenue and retain customers. Customer reviews from platforms like Yelp are the online equivalent of asking a friend, colleague, or neighbor for advice. If you’re wondering how to get good Yelp reviews, or how to get more reviews overall, we’ve got you covered.  

We’re focused primarily on the specifics of how to get good Yelp reviews, as Yelp is a recognized behemoth when it comes to reviews of all things. But these guidelines apply to other customer review sites and sources as well, including encouraging reviews on your own website, Google reviews, TrustPilot, Facebook, Amazon, and more.  

Why Consumer Reviews Matter

Following are a few stats to inspire you to facilitate, respond to, and learn from, and get more reviews:  

  • 80% of Americans read reviews before making a purchase decision.1
  • 83% of shoppers discover new products through reviews.1
  • 75% of businesses don’t respond to any of their reviews.2
  • 89% of consumers read local businesses’ responses to reviews and they will spend up to 49% more at a business that replies to reviews.3

How to Get More Positive Yelp Reviews

When your product is great, your service is awesome, and your customer commitment is second to none, the good reviews will come rolling in. Right? Well, not necessarily. No matter how awesome your small business is, setting the groundwork for customers to sing your praises is key. Yelp won’t allow you to ask for reviews or incentivize good ones.  But you can encourage traffic to your profile and handle reviews in such a way as to shut down the haters and hold up the lovers. Following are five tips on how to get good Yelp reviews and minimize damage from bad ones:  

Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

1. Customers: Get to Them Before They Get Online

Often, customers post poor reviews after the fact because they didn’t feel heard during the fact. Ask your customer how they enjoyed their meal, meeting, product, etc., at time of service or point of sale. Even if you know they came in grumpy, are generally unpleasable, or are simply looking for a scapegoat, resist the urge to say, “Adios, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” as they exit your online or brick and mortar business.  

Let customers vent in person or email-to-email, and acknowledge their dissatisfaction. Their feedback may contain a few helpful tidbits and if you can pull those out in a one-on-one setting vs a public review, this is much better for your business. What’s more, your chances of turning around a disgruntled customer before they post a public review are much greater than after, when they’ve committed to their position in writing and you have to yours.   

2. Respond to Reviews, Good and Bad

When it comes to reviews (and any online comments about a business or person), a good rule of thumb is to: Stay calm, carry on, and consider the source (your customers will). Fixate on the good reviews. It’s human nature to look for exceptions to the rule, so try not to get focused on the bad seeds in a bunch of positive reviews. Force yourself to re-read a good review seven times for every time you read a negative one. When you get a bad review (anyone who runs a business does), here are a few tips for a stellar response: 

  • Take a Deep Breath, Take a Step Back: Reviews that are hysterical are seen as such by potential customers. Think of the bell curve that’s so popular in economics, marketing, and statistics. The “outlier” data points (both ultra-positive and ultra-negative) are often discarded as not indicative of an accurate reflection of the potential experience of others. It’s important to respond to these reviews, but keep your cool and keep your distance as most of these guys aren’t your target customers anyway. As an example, let’s say you receive a review in this vein: “Worst place ever! Stay away! Absolutely horrible!” This reviewer is mad at the world and your business happens to be in it. Respond briefly and exit stage left. Your goal with this type of review is not to engage or escalate. A simple, “We’re sorry we were unable to meet your needs” will do.
  • Use Bad Reviews to Advance Your Brand (Really!): As an example, if you run an auto repair shop that takes pride in good, honest work done right the first time, and a customer trashes your service for taking too long to finish your vehicle, it may be that this customer isn’t your target customer to begin with. Take their review as an opportunity to support and advance your own brand.  A potential response could be, “We’re sorry that you were unhappy with the time it took for your vehicle to be completed. Here at Done Right Automotive, we pride ourselves on addressing customer problems thoroughly, so they do not recur. We provide time estimates to all customers and update them on any changes based upon the work to be done and parts to be ordered. Our most important objective is to fix each problem honestly and efficiently.”
  • Short, Respectful, and Include Supporting Details if You Have Them: No matter how fired up your patron is, respond with modesty, confidence, and commitment to your business. As an example, assume you’re a vegan restaurant and a customer came in looking for a quarter pounder with cheese. Their review was scalding regarding your menu options and lack of choices. Your response could be: “We are sorry you found our plant-based burgers subpar compared to meat burgers, and that you could not find anything meat-based on the menu. As noted on our website and our menu, here at Need4Green, we offer only plant-based cuisine. We wish you success in finding a better match for your preferences.”
  • Don’t Complain, Don’t Explain: How to get more positive Yelp reviews? Like the rock star business owner that you are, respond to reviews clearly and concisely, but allow room for your super fans a chance to shine, too. They’ll step up and leave extraordinary reviews in response to and inspired by the negative ones. Your business has loyal fans, and they’ll defend you and their decision to work with you in the same way we avidly stick up for a favorite singer, sports team, or political figure. Say less, and let your fans step up to the plate on your behalf. 

3. Proactively Engage with the Yelp Platform

Responding to (and learning from) good and bad reviews is key to keeping them coming. But you can also take a proactive approach to get good Yelp reviews by driving visitors to your Yelp profile. This is a great way to encourage good reviews without violating Yelp guidelines that prohibit solicitation of reviews.  

  • Business Updates: In addition to responding to reviews, take the initiative to inform your customers and prospects of news via Yelp. Post updates to Yelp such as menu updates, services, special offers, and changes in hours of operation. If you’re celebrating a decade in business, make a big deal of that with a Yelp check-in. This helps customers see you as part of the platform, actively engaged in it, expecting and receiving kudos from your patrons.
  • Offer Check-In Deals: Every path to getting a great Yelp review starts with getting your customer to choose your place. Check-In Deals are a great way to help customers choose your business over others, and check-ins create buzz around your business. Potential customers see check-ins and think, “Others are getting smog-checked here, why not me?” Offer a dollar amount off, a gift with purchase, or a service upgrade. Yelp will reach out to customers who check in via Yelp and ask them to post a review.

4. Promote Your Yelp Profile with Custom Merch

While Yelp will penalize a business that asks for or incentivize a good review, you can certainly make it easy for customers to leave one. “Find us on Yelp” will do the trick. Include this phrase to your website, business cards, and brochures. Hand out promotional gifts that include the Yelp icon or “check us out on Yelp” verbiage. To get good Yelp reviews, offer promotional merchandise that keeps a Yelp review, and your brand, top of mind. We like these:  

Design Wrap Color Accent Contour Pen: This pen has plenty of room for a Yelp shoutout, along with your logo, tagline, and more. Hand these out to happy customers and the disgrunteld ones you’ve turned around. Did you know an unhappy customer whose problem you’ve resolved is seven times more valuable to your business than a customer who was happy to begin with? That’s because you’ve created trust and emotional engagement in solving a problem. Let those now-happy customers find your Yelp profile and let the keyboard do the talking.  

Medium Jute-Patterned Non-Woven Tote: Encourage customer reviews and prospective patrons to visit your Yelp profile when you hand out shopper totes with your brand and a “Find us on Yelp” icon. This tote has a jute-pattern that’s popular and a price that makes generous distribution possible.  

5. Do What You Do Best

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” To a large extent, reviews about your business are ‘none of your business.’ You and your team show up every day and do your best work. You have good days and bad days. You’re human. So are your customers. 

You can’t please everyone, and you’re defined as much by your evangelists as by your enemies. The customer who leaves a bad review because they didn’t get their meal comp’d may be a good incentive for similarly-minded discount shoppers to stay away. To get more reviews, both good and bad, is a success. Absorb the positive reviews (try to respond to every one of them), take what’s helpful from the negative reviews, and leave the rest behind. Enjoy your work, celebrate your best customers, and shake off the haters.  

Tip: On a roll? Don’t stop with Yelp! Apply these same ideas to get more reviews on your own website, on Google, and other sources your customers consult before making a purchase decision. 

Photo by henry perks on Unsplash


1. https://www.reviewtrackers.com/guides/ask-customers-review/ 

2. https://gatherup.com/100-online-review-statistics/#chapter6 

3. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/how-to-get-yelp-reviews/ 

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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