How to Remove Spam Comments on Yelp & Protect Your Restaurant’s Reputation

By Katherine Pendrill

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Yelp reviews can make or break a restaurant. Yet many restaurant owners and managers don’t realize how easy it can be to remove Yelp spam comments – if you know what you’re doing, that is. Spoiler alert: by the end of this article, you will!

There are two main categories of review spam, which can appear as written reviews, attached videos, or attached photos: 

  • Reviews that were posted with the intent to hurt the business or drive personal gain
  • Reviews that aren’t relevant to potential customers, reference the wrong restaurant, or are repetitive
  • Reviews posted (or paid for) by a business to improve its own reputation

This article addresses the first two categories. These are the reviewers who post images of pasta dishes with their own hair in it, leave multiple one-star reviews with no comments, or criticize another restaurant on your business page. 

They all have the same potential to harm your business (at worst) or annoy the people looking for legitimate reviews on your page (at best). Removing spam comments, video, and images are one component of restaurant reputation management. Let’s dive into the details.

How to Remove Yelp Spam Comments

If someone leaves a spam comment or video on your business page and you don’t know how to remove spam comments on Yelp, help is on the way. Here’s what to do:

1. Claim Your Business Page

Your first step is to gain some control over your business page by claiming it, if you haven’t already. To do this, visit the Yelp for Business website or download the Yelp for Business app. The website and the app will both provide step-by-step instructions. 

If you run into problems, you can open a ticket by emailing Yelp customer support at [email protected] or calling (877) 767-9357 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

2. Make Sure You Have a Case for Having Yelp Remove Spam Comments

The platform prioritizes customers over businesses, and emphasizes accuracy and authenticity in its reviews. That means you won’t always succeed in having Yelp delete spam comments. If a negative review looks (to Yelp) like it was left by a legitimate customer for valid reasons, they’ll likely ignore your request for removal. 

Fortunately, there are a number of scenarios where Yelp will consider removing spam comments and videos. But before you send a request to remove Yelp spam comments, make sure the comment or video goes against one of their Content Guidelines. If they do, they’re more likely to qualify for Yelp spam removal. Trust us, this step will save you time and frustration later on! 

The Content Guidelines prohibit comments that are:

  • Inaccurate or based on second-hand information – for instance, written based on a friend’s experience or in reaction to media coverage
  • Mainly focused on disputing another customer’s comment
  • Posted on the wrong business page
  • Inappropriate or offensive – for example, they contain hate speech or threats
  • Posted by someone with a conflict of interest, like a business competitor or someone who has received a financial incentive
  • In violation of someone’s privacy, meaning they include personal information
  • Promotional in nature, which excludes content posted through a business account or associated with a Yelp advertising product
  • Plagiarized or unoriginal, which includes AI-driven content

Yelp also has extra guidelines for photo and video content. Just like comments, these guidelines prioritize relevant photos and videos. They prohibit content that:

  • Includes violence, drug use, nudity, and suggestive acts – even if these kinds of images are somehow relevant to your business
  • Attacks or disparages your business

3. Back Up All Requests to Have Yelp Delete Spam Comments 

Once you determine that the spam comment goes against Yelp’s Content Guidelines, spend some time gathering evidence. 

First, check to see if the reviewer’s comment history. Are there a lot of similar comments posted on a variety of business accounts in a relatively short period of time? If so, make a note of this. Does the reviewer complain about a dish that’s not on your menu? Snap a photo of your menu. Does the reviewer work for a competitor? Screenshot their LinkedIn profile. 

Any evidence you can share when you send your request to remove Yelp spam comments will help. 

4. Respond to the Reviewer (But Be Professional!)

Next, respond to the reviewer and attempt to resolve the situation. The goal? Showing Yelp that you’ve attempted to resolve the situation in a professional and reasonable way. And you never know—maybe you will resolve the issue and they’ll edit or remove their review. 

Not sure how to navigate this? Scroll down to the ‘How to Respond to Positive and Negative Comments on Yelp’ section of this article for a few helpful tips.

5. Report the Spam Comment, Video, or Photo

Okay, you’ve investigated and attempted to resolve the issue yourself, but you’ve gotten nowhere. Now, you’re ready to report the spam comment. Here’s how. (Please note that this information may differ based on Yelp for Business product updates).

  • Step 1: Go to the ‘Reviews’ section of your Yelp business account.
  • Step 2: Find the spam comment you want to remove. 
  • Step 3: Click on the three dots on the right-hand side of the review.
  • Step 4: Select ‘Report Review’.
  • Step 5: Choose your reason for the report from the drop-down menu (the options will include Yelp’s Content Guidelines violations – good thing you already looked at these earlier!)
  • Step 6: Leave a detailed explanation explaining why the comment, video, or image goes against the Content Guideline you’ve selected, using the evidence you gathered earlier. Yelp will confirm receipt via email.
  • Step 7: Wait for a few days for a response. You’ll receive a second email if the comment qualifies for Yelp spam removal. If you don’t hear back, pull up the review and hover your cursor over the flag. A status update will appear.  
Two restaurant workers looking at a laptop.

How to Prevent Spam Comments on Yelp 

Yelp has strong safeguards to protect against spam comments and other content that goes against its guidelines. 

There are two levels of Yelp content moderation. First, an automated system detects and flags potentially problematic comments for review before they make it onto the platform. Second, human content moderators conduct coordinated fraud investigations, verify business data, correct inaccurate business categorizations – and yes, respond to spam comment removal requests. 

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to know how to remove spam comments on Yelp. Unfortunately, plenty of reviews slip past these safeguards. But you don’t have to rely on Yelp for everything – there are Comment Moderation settings in your business account that allow you to approve reviews yourself, before they appear on your restaurant page. If you have trouble finding the Yelp content moderation function, contact Yelp customer support.

Here’s what to do next:

  • Step 1: Set aside time every week to check reviews. 
  • Step 2: Look for the authentic reviews first. Positive or negative, you’ll recognize these ones because they’ll include details that clearly represent an experience with your restaurant. 
  • Step 3: Look at the remaining reviews. Does the same one-line comment appear multiple times? Did someone recommend another restaurant on your page? Did the reviewer post comments or pictures of multiple businesses in different parts of the world, all on the same day? Based on all of this, decide what your standards are going to be for filtering your reviews and stick to them.
  • Step 4: Apply your new standards to all reviews. If they pass, approve them. If they don’t, decline them.

Note: Don’t delete all negative comments. Customers are increasingly skeptical about the authenticity of online reviews, and accounts with only positive reviews tend to set off their Spidey senses.

A yellow speech bubble with a happy face, neutral face, and sad face.

How to Respond to Positive and Negative Comments on Yelp 

When you’re running a restaurant, it can be difficult to find the time to respond to reviews. But if you do, recent studies have shown that the results are well worth it. 

In fact, “88% of consumers would [support] a business that replies to all of its reviews, compared to just 47%…for a business that doesn’t respond to reviews at all,” according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey for 2024.

Here are a few ground rules for responding to comments in general:

  • Reply to all reviews. Responding consistently creates the impression that you genuinely care what your customers have to say (and hopefully, that impression is accurate!) 
  • Respond in less than 24 hours. This is especially important for negative reviews, when there’s a concern to be addressed.
  • Make it personal. Refer to specific review comments and details in your response.
  • Show gratitude. Whether the reviewer took the time to share a compliment or to bring an issue to your attention, thank them.

How to Respond to Positive Yelp Comments

Life is busy. When a reviewer leaves a positive comment about your restaurant, they’re taking time away from doing something else. Show them you appreciate it with a prompt response. Here are a few tips for responding to positive reviews:

  • A name is a powerful thing. When used in a response to a positive comment, it gives the reader the sense that you see them as a human, not just a reviewer.
  • Say thank you. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s the most important part of this kind of response, so make sure you include it!
  • Respond to a specific detail in the review. If the reviewer mentions they were celebrating their birthday, for instance, tell them you hope they had a wonderful birthday and that you’re glad your restaurant was a part of it.  
  • Welcome them back! Let them know you’re grateful for their patronage and that you hope to see them again soon.

 How to Respond to Negative Yelp Comments

Negative reviews can be harder to reply to, but it’s just as important – maybe more important – to get it right. Unless these reviewers have an ulterior motive, they generally just want to know that you care enough to take them seriously.

A few tips:

  • Cool down before responding. Be professional, even if the review isn’t.
  • Correct any confusion or errors, if you spot something that doesn’t seem quite right. Just be careful with your phrasing – always give the benefit of the doubt.
  • Have a few pre-written options ready to use in these kinds of situations. Write them before you need them, so that you’re cool-headed when you choose your words. Just make sure you personalize them every time you use them.
  • Start with a comment instead of a direct message to show other potential customers that you cared enough to try and resolve issues professionally.
  • In your comment, offer to move to Direct Message to discuss and potentially resolve the issue without creating clutter (or further negativity) on your account page. 
  • Genuinely try to make up for the customer’s experience, if the concern is valid. Apologize and consider offering a discount or a gift certificate for next time.
  • Tell the customer what you’re doing to prevent a similar experience in the future.

Looking for more help? Learn more about how to respond to negative restaurant reviews

With 44% of customers using Yelp to evaluate local businesses, it’s more important than ever to keep your restaurant page free of spam comments, videos, and photos. The information in this article should get you off on the right foot – especially if you want to have Yelp remove spam comments from your page – but if you want to take your customer engagement further, there’s lots more you can do.

Want to attract more customers and boost sales? [Explore 31 new restaurant marketing ideas

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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