• Due to Yelp's controversial business practices that often undermine small local businesses, I have stopped encouraging reviews through Yelp. My Yelp page is still up, and if you feel inclined you can post a review. However, I would encourage you to also post your review to my listing on Google, since there it will more likely be seen by others seeking my services.

    Why I'm abstaining from Yelp

    When I began opening my private acupuncture practice, I told my current patients that I would be establishing a Yelp page to help me get started. A few of them enthusiastically said "Great! I'll write a review!". These were real patients of mine who received real treatments from me and got real results. So I established my Yelp page, and within 20 minutes I started receiving calls from the Yelp Branding Department asking me to pay for ads to promote my business via Yelp - calls I answered at the beginning but then began to ignore them because I wasn't ready to invest money into Yelp advertising yet. I got 1-3 calls per day for 4 months! During those months my patients wrote their reviews, rating me at 5 stars. The reviews were up for about 2 weeks, then all of a sudden they disappeared. Why did they disappear? Well, turns out Yelp has an algorithm to determine which reviews are viable and which aren't. I've placed the list of reasons why they would take down a review below for your reference. Long story short, they effectively can take down your reviews for almost any reason - including if you have too many good reviews or if your reviewers don't have enough friends on Yelp or haven't posted any other reviews.


    This whole situation made me curious, so I started researching. Turns out that if you go to Yelp and type in "acupuncturist" in my area, 9 out of 10 of those on there are sponsored, meaning the acupuncturists pay for advertising on Yelp. If you dig deeper, you'll see that many of those acupuncturists have 5 star averages from reviewers who have very few friends and even fewer reviews posted, and if you look at which reviews are considered not viable (there's a section in very faint gray lettering that holds the reviews that are "not recommended"), you'll see that the majority of those reviews are 3 stars and under. This didn't seem right - Yelp's algorithm filters out the 5 star reviews for me, someone who doesn't pay for advertising, but keeps only 4-5 star reviews and filters out the 3 star and under reviews for other acupuncturists who pay for advertising? If this is the case, this practice is 100% predatory towards small businesses as it strong arms them into paying for advertising through Yelp.


    In an effort to prove myself wrong, I googled articles to see if other small business owners had experienced this. It turns out this has happened to countless other small business owners and that there's even a documentary called Billion Dollar Bully that exposes Yelp's predatory practices outright, a documentary Yelp has gone to great lengths to suppress (even buying the domain www.billiondollarbully.com and posting their own claim that they do not take advantage of small businesses).


    Given these Yelp practices and my deeply rooted value of integrity, I have stopped trying to gather reviews through Yelp. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and as always if you have any questions or comments please reach out to me at sydney@sydneymalawer.com.


    With gratitude,



    There are a number of reasons why a review might not be recommended. For example, the review may have been posted by a less established user, or it may seem like an unhelpful rant or rave. Some of these reviews are fakes (like the ones we see originating from the same computer) and some suggest a bias (like the ones written by a friend of the business owner), but many are real reviews from real customers who we just don't know much about and therefore can't recommend.

    It's also important to note that because our recommendation software is automated, the Yelp Support team cannot manually override the software to recommend or not recommend a review.

    • The reviewer does not have a complete profile
    • The reviewer does not have social integration
    • The reviewer has only positive reviews
    • The review was submitted from an IP located somewhere else
    • The reviews are originating from the same computer
    • The reviewer does not have Yelp friends