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Recommendation software

Highlighting the most reliable and helpful reviews

Automated software evaluates every review based on hundreds of signals of quality, reliability, and user activity on Yelp. The reviews it identifies as the most helpful and reliable are recommended.

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Why does Yelp recommend reviews?

Our recommendation software is engineered to provide a level playing field for all businesses on Yelp. Having a great reputation on Yelp shouldn’t be about who has the time and resources to ask the most people to write reviews. Great Yelp reviews and ratings should come from consumers who had a great experience that they’re inspired to tell others about.

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Why software?

Hundreds of millions of reviews are posted on Yelp, and the recommendation software works in the background to showcase the reviews that it determines are most helpful. These are typically written by active members of the Yelp community who are self-motivated to share their personal, detailed experiences about local businesses.

The software does something no human can — regularly analyze billions of data points from all reviews, reviewers and businesses to evaluate the usefulness and reliability of each review (see some of the criteria below). This automated process levels the playing field for businesses, so they can focus on what they do best: providing great products and experiences that naturally inspire customers to write reviews.

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How does it work?

The recommendation software is entirely automated. It applies the same objective rules to every business and treats reviews of advertisers and non-advertisers exactly the same. The reviews that are recommended for any business can change over time as Yelp’s software learns more about the reviewer and the business. Sometimes, a review appears in the “not recommended” section simply because the software doesn’t know enough about the reviewer to recommend it.

The software also looks for things like unfairly biased reviews — such as reviews people may write about their competitors or businesses they’re affiliated with — which other local search platforms may fail to catch. We work hard to protect the integrity of the content on Yelp so consumers get authentic information and businesses are protected from those that might try to “game the system.”

Reviews that are not recommended are still accessible via a link at the bottom of a business’s Yelp page, but they don’t factor into the business’s overall star rating or review count.

Some of what the recommendation software looks for

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Conflicts of Interest. These include reviews that it suspects were written by people with undisclosed ties to a business, including competitors, disgruntled employees, friends, or family.

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Solicited reviews. These are reviews that it suspects the business owner or an employee asked for. Reviews that consumers write when asked to do so tend to be biased compared to reviews that consumers are motivated to write on their own.

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Reliability. Potentially unreliable reviews include those written by less active users that it doesn’t know enough about to recommend their opinion to our community.

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Usefulness. The software looks for useful reviews and tries to exclude unhelpful rants or raves, or irrelevant information.

Learn to navigate Yelp like a pro

We offer guidance and free tools to help businesses get the most of Yelp.
Learn more at the Yelp for Business site.

Learn more

Don’t Ask For Reviews: Why Yelp Does Not Recommend Solicited Reviews

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Yelp vs Google: How they deal with fake reviews

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FTC Economist Analyzes Review Quality On Google, HomeAdvisor, Facebook, Yelp

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Is Yelp A Bully Or Just Misunderstood?

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FTC Concludes that Yelp Is Not Up to Any Funny Business

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Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud

Read study

Frequently asked questions

Can Yelp employees manually override the decisions of the recommendation software for a business?

No. No employee at Yelp has the ability to override the decisions that the software makes. This approach is deliberate to avoid conflicts of interest.

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Why shouldn’t businesses ask their customers to write reviews on Yelp?

When asked to write a review by a business, a customer may feel pressure or influence to positively inflate their rating compared to someone who was inspired to write a review on their own. Businesses are also likely to only ask for reviews from customers they know will give them a great rating. This makes the information less helpful to all consumers and gives an unfair advantage to businesses with the time and marketing savvy to ask a lot of customers for reviews.

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Do businesses that advertise on Yelp get special treatment by the recommendation software?

No. There’s no connection between advertising on Yelp and how the recommendation software treats a business’s ratings and reviews. The recommendation software applies the same objective standards to all businesses, meaning reviews of advertisers and non-advertisers are treated exactly the same.

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Why are different reviews recommended on different days?

Our recommendation software runs and learns regularly, evaluating signals across the hundreds of millions of reviews on Yelp, so reviews can move from not recommended to recommended (and vice versa) over time.

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For what locations is the recommendation software used? 

The recommendation software looks at every review on Yelp worldwide, regardless of the location of the user or the business.

Yelp Trust & Safety Report

Learn more about how we’re safeguarding the information on Yelp. 

View the 2020 report
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