We've been tracking the lifespan of reviews for about a month now. We have about 200 other reviews yet to archive, but this snapshot is particularly interesting because it came right after we canceled our advertising contract with Yelp.
Summary of the data:
- With one notable exception, none of our 5-star reviews stayed visible longer than five days.
- The one that did stay up for 29 days was taken down three days after I cancelled the contract.
- The average number of days 5-star reviews stayed up WITH the one outlier is 5.3 days.
- The average number of days 5-star reviews stayed up WITHOUT the one outlier is 3.5 days.
Granted, this is a very small slice of data, but it's interesting when analyzed in light of our cancellation. I can't wait to dig in to the numbers when we can figure out how to track down the archive dates for our 200-some other archived reviews.
First pic: the cancellation email. I thought it was pretty friendly and to the point -- nothing antagonistic and straightforward. I wrote our Yelp rep on December 29th, 2011, and told her we wouldn't be renewing our contract. Since then, all but one positive review has remained, and that's only because, as of this writing, there's one recent five-star review since we declined to renew. Given the pattern, I expect it to be gone in the next day or two.
Now, here are the numbers. I plugged in all the reviews along with other information and ran a report.
Almost all of our 5-star reviews were archived within a week of being posted. The one exception is particularly interesting -- Justin S.'s review was "disappeared" three days after I canceled the contract. We only have somewhat-educated guesses as to why his review survived as long as it had -- other, more active reviewers' posts have disappeared more quickly, and about-as-active reviewers' posts have stayed longer -- but it seems just a little TOO coincidental that his review would be taken down right after I cancelled the contract. And since he posted his review, no other 5-star reviews lasted longer than five days.
Yelp is going to have to do some 'splainin' sometime soon. Even if their algorithm works correctly and they DON'T futz with the numbers or review placement, it APPEARS to be very shady. The backlash is growing, and I'm not the only business owner paying very close attention to the numbers. My guess is that they don't want anyone probing their servers too closely, even if everything's legitimate.