20% of Yelp Reviews are Fake

September 26, 2013

If you're a business owner, you know about the problem with Yelp. One of the most common problems is fake reviews criticizing your business. Then, Yelp contacts the business owner offering to remove the negative reviews if you "advertise" with them. In July, a group of business owners appealed a court case accusing Yelp of extortion.

Just this last week, the New York Attorney General has fined 19 companies over $300,000 for paying for fake reviews for their businesses. The owners of the businesses were offering people up to $10 each to write positive reviews on Yelp.

And, finally, researchers from Harvard and Boston University published a paper this month demonstrating that 20% of Yelp reviews are fake, often written by paid shills in foreign countries.

Clearly, Yelp has some serious problems with authenticity, but it's frustrating, because negative Yelp reviews can seriously affect your marketing plan.

Has your business been the subject of review fraud on Yelp or any other site? Let us know in the comments below.