According to a Harvard Business School study, reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp have an impact on small businesses gaining customers. With no opt-out option available, whether or not they would like to be, businesses can be listed. Many of them have felt pressure to buy advertising for a more favorable placement. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint brought by several small business that alleged that the advertising practices of Yelp, a well-known online review and advertising site, constituted "extortion" under California and federal law.
In an article for Lexington Herald-Leader, Faegre Baker Daniels partner Brad Dempsey says the court ruling means that businesses should not look to courts to referee the practices of online review sites. Dempsey encourages businesses and consumers to take online reviews with a grain of salt, observing that review sites are not necessarily objective review sources and that "review sites exist to make money and have tremendous control over what reviews you actually see." Dempsey cautions that "people who submit reviews are generally not an average consumer but are motivated by some other factor to prompt them to undertake the chore of writing a review."
Article source: "How can a business cope with negative reviews on Yelp?" Lexington Herald Leader. September 2014.