Should Local Businesses Ask for Reviews?

On the surface, it might seem quite innocent. A customer visits your place of business. Once the business transaction is complete, you ask whether the customer would be willing to leave you a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook or some other site. You haven’t asked them to write a positive review necessarily. You haven’t specified what they should say. You certainly haven’t offered to pay them for the review with cash, a discount, or some other incentive. You’ve simply asked for a review, hoping that at least some customers will follow up by writing one.

For a few years now, policies around this practice, commonly known as review solicitation, have differed from site to site. It’s safe to say though that many sites have been fairly lenient about asking for reviews, some going so far as to encourage the practice. The notable exception is Yelp. In Yelp’s view, there’s a slight but crucial difference between making the customer aware that they can visit Yelp to write a review on the one hand, and soliciting that review on the other.

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