Marketing for Accountants - Is Yelp hiding your best reviews?

Yelp’s review filter drives the greatest frustration amongst CPAs and tax accounting professionals. Since Yelp relies on power users with long review histories, many tax accounting clients who are nice enough to recommend you may get filtered out from the Yelp result pages.

While Yelp says it is doing this to protect the integrity of the reviews, it does nothing to help your practice grow.

According to Yelp, the following are some of the issues the company looks at when suppressing your positive recommendations:

  • Reviews are from someone who has only written 1 review
  • Reviews are from someone who has no profile info (profile photo, additional info, link to Facebook, etc.)
  • Reviews are strongly worded (either positively or negatively)
  • Reviews are short and lack real detail
  • Reviews are from a location other than where the business is located

Here are a few tips that may help your review stay on the results pages:

  • Add the reviewer as a friend on Yelp
  • Send the reviewer a message through Yelp
  • Respond to the Yelp review 
  • Use the vote tool – click “Useful” or “Funny” or both to legitimize the review
  • If you are friendly with the reviewer, ask him/her to update his/her Yelp profile

According to Nielsen, 70% of consumers trust third-party reviews. People share, seek out and trust on word of mouth. Nothing can hurt a CPA or tax accounting practice more than negative reviews. When you Google your name it can be a “game over” if a number of negative reviews populate page 1 of the results.

With Yelp hiding your positive reviews, what can you do to safeguard your reputation?

First you need to be proactive with managing and safeguarding your brand reputation. Putting your head in the sand is not a strategy. Utilize the strategies we listed above. But if you are looking to take your online reputation away from Yelp, keep reading.

Identifying satisfied clients—and politely asking them to review you—works. And works well. We have several accountant marketing clients who already filled up their appointment calendar (in early March) for the season because they used this strategy so successfully.

Here are a couple samples of accountants doing it the right way.

The primary reason?

Proactively requesting reviews and recommendations helps build up your search engine results. When a prospect that has been referred to you Googles your name, you want your website and five-star reviews to display prominently in the search results. For credibility, the reviews themselves need to be displayed on a third-party website like TaxBuzz.com or Google+. By building up your reputation on review sites other than Yelp, you will notice that Yelp gets bumped down the result pages over time. So, a prospect's first glimpse of you is an overwhelming endorsement from your clients.

This is a year-round process that needs to be built into your business practices. Every point of contact with your clients needs to help build your online reputation. Being responsive to your clients is the #1 attribute we see when clients critique professionals in a negative way. The second most important trait is staying in contact year 'round with clients...the exact task your email newsletter should accomplish.

This is not a costly endeavor and provides a much higher ROI than relying on expensive pay per click or traditional advertising. Take control of your brand reputation before someone else does it for you.

  • Lee Reams II

  • I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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