All posts by Rina Magsombol

“…Once she ran the deposit, she sent over the INVOICE and it was ANOTHER 200 dollar more than what she quoted me…I filed a BBB complaint and am disputing the deposit charges.”

Would you believe the snippet of the review above was taken from a gourmet taco company with an almost 5-star rating and 98 reviews? Would you believe me if I told you that this review was marked “Useful” 14 times by Yelpers? If I told you that the owner responded to this negative review in order to improve his business performance– would you begin to feel Yelp is untrustworthy?

Yelp 1Yelp has been labeled a “complete and utter fraud,” by business owners. Conspiracies about Yelp hiding reviews and other malicious activity have been reported in many articles in recent years. With so much loathing felt toward America’s popular local business directory site, how is it viewed by consumers? More importantly, what does Yelp have to say about all this?

Business Owners vs. Yelp

Many complaints were expressed by business owners in several cases. One case involved Yelp filtering reviews.

Bai Thong Thai, holding a 3 out of 5 star rating on its listing, explained how Yelp hid positive reviews and was told by Yelp that if the business paid to do advertising with Yelp, this would not have happened.

Yelp spokesperson, Kristen Whisenand, said there is no amount of money anyone can pay Yelp to manipulate the reviews. She also mentioned that Yelp’s filtering system protects consumers by screening out phony postings. Yelp’s algorithm was developed so businesses would not post fake reviews to deceive consumers.

Another case involved Yelp in connection with extorting business owners for ad money. A local business owner of AVA Salon & Spa in Washington D.C. believed that Yelp filtered its reviews because the owner refused to advertise with Yelp. Yelp begged to differ.

“This is completely untrue. There is no correlation between advertising and reviews on Yelp,” said Vince Sollotto, Yelp’s Vice President for Corporate Communications.  He later explained how anyone can browse a business listing that is advertising with Yelp and see negative reviews displayed, as well as tons of other businesses that are not advertising with Yelp that are carrying four or five star ratings.

A study by Michael Luca from Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas from Yale University used data collected over three years to parse Yelp reviews.

Luca, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, found that after studying a set of restaurants that advertise on Yelp, determined those businesses have reviews filtered in the same manner as restaurants that are not advertising on Yelp.

Another example of Yelp’s questionable approach involves advertising on a competitor’s Yelp listing. Supino Pizzeria in Detroit, MI (carrying a five-star rating) featured a review on its listing. Unfortunately, the first review seen on its listing was for another business, Green Zone Pizza in Grosse Pointe, MI (which has three stars) which pays Yelp for ads.  Is this one of Yelp’s schemes or just another advertising tactic?

Local Business Owners Chime In

Yelp 2With a hefty share of business owners dissatisfied with Yelp, there are also a handful of businesses which find the site useful for industry-specific marketing.

Brian Hansen, a Real Estate Agent, and Matt Cheah, Marketing Director for Classy Deer, LLC, both find Yelp an excellent source for restaurant reviews and getting leads.

“Yelp is clearly more important for food and high traffic businesses with clients that make smaller purchases. It provides a medium for happy clients to express their feedback, and even if we just get one client from it over the lifetime of the company, I would still consider it worth it,” said Cheah.

Real People. Real Reviews.

Enough with the brash comments from business owners! What do the mass of Yelpers have to say?

Many Yelp users agreed that the star rating for each business is probably the number one deceiving factor for a company.

Teddy-Allen Aguilar, who has been Yelping since 2010, said the star ratings may be misleading due to a few disappointed customers. However, the “hard-core” and loyal Yelper believes that Yelp is positive overall.

Thomas Pritchard, a recently registered Yelper has been using Yelp to discover new restaurants conveniently located to his home as well as finding mouthwatering, taste buds-dancing delights. He agrees that Yelp is fairly accurate but it is not perfect in all aspects.

“There are a few places with low ratings that I believe should be in the four star range.  Therefore, I think the ratings should be taken with a grain of salt,” said the Mexican-food-aficionado.

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With the countless, slander-filled statements discussed by business owners, consumers do see a method to these business owners’ madness.

Ian Kennedy, also a veteran Yelper, and Aguilar shared their opinions on why business owners are completely irked by the review site.

“Negative reviews can hurt new businesses. However, there is a reason why it is happening. There are always going to be people who are not happy with a business, no matter how professional the business conducts itself,” said Kennedy.

Yelping for three and a half years now, Aguilar believes businesses harbor a strong resentment and irritation towards Yelp.

“I remember one time when a business owner asked me to write an excellent five star Yelp review for his auto body collision center just to cover up the previous negative salty reviews left by previously disappointed customers. It was amusing that he would even ask me to,” Aguilar laughed.

Aguilar admitted later that he did not leave a fake review.

Don’t Be Bitter. Be Better.

Don’t forget: a Yelp listing is default sorted by “Yelp’s Sort”. This Yelp sort is determined by recency, user votes, and other factors. Users can filter the reviews by date, rating, and elites. Also, remember to read the reviews, do not just glance at the number of star ratings. We should all arrive at a consensus that those stars shine too bright (or not) to see clearly. Reviews carry a more substantial argument.

This is also noteworthy: Businesses cannot satisfy everyone. Even a five star business, such as the taco gourmet company mentioned earlier, cannot proudly wear the “1-star of shame” review. A business should be responsible for keeping up their reputation and their brand. Listen to your potential fans, unhappy customers, or first-time buyers; they will provide great insight. Respond to their concerns – present a mature demeanor – for your business, especially since the responses are displayed publicly.

Yelp holds power with consumers and businesses alike. While business owners try to protect their business’ reputation, Yelpers still want to have a tasteful meal at the end of day – along with exceptional service. We are talking about different types of Yelpers: the needy, the picky, the  former server who expects decent to excellent service, the sushi-snob, the auto repair shop connoisseur, and the Greek food guru. First Amendment – it’s probably the most useful weapon one can use. Best advice as a business owner? Give consumers a taste of their own medicine – respond back to their negative reviews!

With Yahoo! Local’s invention of the Marketing Dashboard in 2012 and Google’s recent migration to its new user interface, Bing recently evolved into something new: Bing Business Portal is now called Bing Places for Business. So what’s new and different with their completely-revamped UI? Apart from dropping the “BETA” version in its name, there are numerous differences between the Portal and Places.

Bookmark it!

The URL used to log into your Bing account has changed. You no longer log in through but rather Although, if you do happen to forget that the web address has changed, typing in will redirect you to Bing: Places for Business.


Blog 3 -1Once you have logged in to your Bing Places account, you will immediately see the drastic difference in appearances between the Portal and Places. Bing has simplified their menu for the user, dividing its menu tabs into three parts:

  • Add Your Business – This section of Bing Places allows you to add your business listing(s) or find existing listings that you can claim into your account.
  • Add Multiple Businesses – Managing a chain of restaurants? Bulk upload your multi-location business with an excel file sheet. Bing includes a template of the excel file once you export it. Use this template to add your locations making listing creation quick and easy!
  • Manage Your Listings – This is Bing Places’ dashboard. Here you will find all your Bing listings and their statuses.

Bing now provides a map on the right panel of your Bing Places account, so you can see their geographic locations. You can view the map through a “Bird’s eye” which resembles Google’s Satellite version of Google Maps. If this does not appeal to you, you can use the standard road map version. If your map marker is incorrect, you can move it. Bing still does not offer street view.

Apart from the interface add-ons, Bing removed offers and deals. When a Bing Rep was asked why they discontinued this feature, he responded that “…the engineering team wanted to simplify user experience…”

In place of this feature, Bing launched Bing Offers. Business owners can still add offers and deals to display on this new platform just as long as the offers are added on deal aggregators like Living Social, Yipit, and Yelp, to name a few. Bing pulls offers from these aggregators onto their Bing Offers site so consumers can find all deals from different industries and businesses in one interface.

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Bing Offers Is A New Offers Platform And Operates Alongside With Deal Aggregators Like Yelp, Yipit And Living Social.

Change is good

Inside the Bing Places account, you no longer have the business name, street address, city, state, and phone number to search for an existing listing. Bing has simplified the search with two search options: phone number and business name plus location. (If these fields are too narrow for your search, you can always utilize the business name field to input a keyword.) The search results returned to you will contain many results. This is great for looking up duplicates, even if it’s for an outdated business listing lingering on Bing Maps.

Users will appreciate this change: you no longer need to PIN verify duplicate listings to remove them. Bing representatives say with the new migration, users can just claim listings and hit the “delete” button. It’s a quicker process and one fewer PIN verification for cleaning up your listings.

To enhance the user experience, Bing has added a few more fields that the portal did not have. This gives the user more options to optimize their listings. These fields include:

  • Adding up to 10 categories (no custom categories permitted)
  • A field for video links (That’s right, it is plural; we can add more than one – from any video hosting site!)
  • A field for additional websites
  • A submit button! (The Portal did not have this, which mislead many users who were curious to see if their data was submitted.)

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Change is good…to an extent

We’ve reviewed the list of changes Bing has integrated, but what has been taken away from the user experience? What has been added that has challenged or restricted Bing users?

Can’t find the option to hide your business address? You are right! Bing removed that feature. According to a Bing rep, “We’re pushing the team as hard as we can to bring that feature back,” since there were many who favored that feature. For now, the user must decide whether or not they want their address displayed on Bing. Until we find out whether or not Bing decides to keep the hide-address option, users must be patient.

Here’s another: you may want to sit down for this one. You may cringe. You may cry and you may pull out a few hairs: Bing does not allow users to modify a business name, even if it is adding an “LLC,” an “Inc.” an “s” or changing an “and” to an “&.” Bing implemented this change for security reasons so that no one can claim and modify someone else’s listing.

However, there is a solution to that. If you are frantic to add “awesome” to “Harry’s Subs” or an ” ‘s ” to “Ricardo Pizzeria” to show that it’s yours and not Jared’s or Mike’s, then get in contact with a Bing representative and explain your issue. It’s free and only cost you some time, but you can resolve the problem.

Have a punching bag ready because Bing won’t allow you to change the address and phone number at the same time. Even if you need to add a suite number or modify “Street” to “St.” you may only change one element at a time. And yes, that means TWO PIN verifications are required.

If this is perplexing, you can contact a Bing rep through their chat and they can assist in changing both at once.

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Just Keep Your Shirt On!

Blog 3 -6All these changes mean we must adjust and adapt. Bing is still undergoing changes and we should prepare to see revisions to their interface, both additional features and deletions of some already present.

Bing encourages feedback. If you need to have your opinions or ideas heard, email [email protected].

“Press one to reach our customer service department. Press two for our sales department…For all other inquiries, press star. Press the pound key to return to the previous menu.”

Surely you’ve heard this one too many times: calling to complain about a T-Mobile phone bill after being charged with hidden fees, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or getting in touch with Yahoo! in regard to your local listing. Whichever the case may be, it’s a headache, a vicious cycle, and you end up not resolving anything!

There is hope. As opposed to Yahoo! and Google, Bing offers a live chat to ease your worries. It’s no automated machine, nor is it a person ready to direct you to the wrong department. It is a real person, real conversation and chatting with you – real time.

No more dealing with phone calls you dread making, as you try to get past the automated machine. Bing Business Portal Support offers a virtual chat session and will assist you with any Bing related issues. The chats are personalized and tailored to your immediate request and they are super friendly, too! Bing’s support chat is dedicated to their Microsoft and Bing users. Their reps provide answers and discover solutions to Bing business listing issues you may be experiencing. A few problems may include:

  • Previously claimed listings
  • Removing duplicate, competing listings
  • PIN numbers not registering when verifying your listings
  • General questions
  • Log in issues
  • Any other issues you’re struggling with

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Get What’s Yours

So you’ve claimed, prepared, and optimized the listing you wish, but arrive at a verification screen that displays this message: “This listing has been claimed and verified by another user.” Hey, it happens. But there is an easy fix.

Bing’s support chat will help release the claim on the listing you want. To expedite this, the Bing representative will request a verification email from the email associated with your business. For example, if your business is Panera Bread, Bing will request an email from *****, verifying that you are connected to the business.  This is so not just anyone can claim your business listing.

Once Bing receives an email from your business’ email address, the listing will be approved under your ownership. Bing representatives also will verify your listing after releasing the claim from the previous owner. No need to endure the long days of having your listing screened as you wait impatiently, unaware of what is going on behind the scenes. The listing is now yours and it is verified.

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Duplicates: Say Bye-Bye to PIN-Verify

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With Bing, there are several ways to remove duplicate listings. One of the most common ways is to claim, PIN verify, and then hide them on Bing Maps. This tactic works and may take 2-6 weeks for Bing to remove the duplicate off Bing Maps; in some instances it may take longer. Google offered the same strategy for removing dupes before they released Map Maker.

Another way to deal with duplicates – although it may not be the ideal practice – is running a community edit on the listing itself by clicking “Report a Problem.” There is an option to mark the business as closed. This may or may not remove the business from Bing Maps.

Using Bing’s support chat is a viable process for removing your duplicates. It’s simple. Once you’ve gathered all your duplicate listings, save the URLs until you meet a Bing rep on chat and instant message them those URLs. A Bing rep will take it from there, verifying and ensuring the URLs you’ve sent are legitimate duplicates – and that you are not some pretentious, first page-invested business owner who wants to wipe out all competing listings conflicting with yours. To verify true competing listings, Bing reps require an email from your business verifying that the business is active and located at the address provided. Other times, Bing reps call the phone number on the duplicate listing you want removed. The help is flexible. If you prefer one method over the other, discuss with them and determine which process is better for you.

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Bing Support chat may not make up for its search engines’ struggling popularity – proven by the majority of internet users, consumers, entrepreneurs and the remaining Google-elitists – but they aren’t the least favored either.

According to a recent statistic by eBiz  (April 2013), Bing trails Google by over 700 million users, with an Alexa rank of 22 versus Google’s Alexa rank of one. (Alexa is a well-known ranking system that audits and retrieves a website’s rank depending on its page visits. Webmasters and advertisers may use Alexa to measure their website’s efforts and that of their competitors). Bing does exceed Yahoo by 5 million users compared to past years, when Yahoo held the lead.

No machine-operated calls, unattended forum posts and headaches over your questions and concerns! Bing Live Chat   is committed to taking the initiative in providing solutions that best fit your situation. It’s free. It’s easy! All you need is a contact email and name to start the conversation. No more waiting. Help is a keyboard and mouse click away!

*Bing Business Portal has recently migrated to Bing Places for Business. Updates and changes (due to the new interface) has taken effect and few things mentioned in this article are subject to change.