Yelp is in a constant battle with fake reviews, and although its algorithms help to catch questionable reviews, it also takes a more involved approach.
According to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, the company has a team dedicated to running “sting operations” that catch businesses in the act.
“The way we have decided to combat that is we have a team that is dedicated to running sting operations. So we pose as review writers who are interested in selling reviews to whoever would like to buy them. It has been incredibly successful in that we have been able to catch businesses red handed.”
Getting caught by Yelp can have serious affects as the review site will display the following notice on a business’ page for three months:
“Essentially what we’re doing is stepping in and trying to nip it in the bud. It’s not an activity that we’re reacting to – meaning we’re seeing a business is getting a great reputation because they’re paying for reviews – it’s we’re going after them at the moment they’re trying to cheat.”
Yelp is currently only running these sting operations in the U.S. with plans for expansion in Europe, and since the campaign started, it’s caught over 285 businesses.