The following is a true story.

It happened to a realtor who shared his experience on Reddit. Seems to be a common thing. Chances are, it’s happened to someone you know too.

A few years ago, he created a Yelp profile.

Then the phone calls started.

A pushy sales rep (who we’ll call “Sarah”), desperate to sell him on an advertising package. She kept throwing numbers at him. For about $300 (if my memory serves me correctly) he got a certain number of guaranteed clicks, an Enhanced Profile, and additional free ad credits every month.

It all sounded legit.

And, at $300 a month, it wouldn’t break the bank.

So he relented and signed up.

HUGE mistake.

The clicks turned out to be worthless garbage. The torrent of phone calls he was promised never materialized. And, the final straw — he had one of his pals respond to his Yelp ad, and his buddy’s details were passed to another realtor in town who just happens to also be a paid Yelp customer.

That’s when he realized he’d get better value for money if he just burned those three hundred bucks. At least they’d keep him warm for a few minutes. So, he called Sarah and cancelled his ad contract immediately.

What happened next — you couldn’t make it up.

His Yelp profile received a negative review from a bogus client.

Then, a few days later, another one.

Pretty soon, his profile had attracted a half-dozen negative reviews. And they all showed in the search results when prospects Googled his name.

He called Yelp to get them removed.

They told him they couldn’t do that.

“Okay”, he thought, “I’ll call some of my past clients and have them post positive reviews on Yelp. At least the negative ones will get buried.”

But Yelp wouldn’t show them.

They were removed from his public profile, because Yelp “couldn’t verify that they came from a real transaction”. In other words, these reviews didn’t come from clients who found him through Yelp. So, they didn’t count.

If he wanted to rack up some positive reviews, he’d need to attract new clients through Yelp. Which would mean running paid ads again.

Now, this may all be just a coincidence.

And it might have nothing to do with his closing down his ad account.

But it sure doesn’t look like it. It looks as if Yelp is running some kind of online protection racket, where they abuse their platform and use it hold realtors’ reputations hostage until they relent and pay Yelp’s ransom.

Disgusting.

But what else should we expect from a Big Tech company?

From what I’ve heard, stories like this one are shockingly common. Not just with Yelp. But with Google, Facebook, and other online platforms.

And, to me, it really just reaffirms what most smart realtors know:

You need to invest in your own platforms, your own marketing and branding assets that you own and control. Like a book, or an authority website.

Yelp, Facebook, and Google — these guys will stab you in the back and dump your body in the river the moment you’re no longer useful to them.

But nobody can take your book away from you.

And you don’t have to pay protection money to anybody to hand your book out to potential clients, referral partners, etc., and use it to attract listings.

Maybe it’s time to get one done?

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you author a solid, professional-looking, and officially published book with just 2-3 hours of easy work — a book that is 100% your own words, and not just something a ghostwriter churned out — check out our Speak-a-Book service.

You can request an info pack (and sample book) over here:

→ realtors.jacobsandwhitehall.com/speak-a-book/

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