How To Write a Less Than Wonderful Yelp Review

As you may have noticed I am fairly active in the Yelp community. I write reviews on, attend Yelp events, and I’m even a Yelp Elite. I’ve become one of those people that thinks about taking pictures at restaurants because I know I’m going to write a review at some point. I collect business cards, take pictures of menus, and take note of the small details. I love writing Yelp reviews about my favorite places. But one of my “responsibilities” as a Yelp Elite is to also write reviews about my not so favorite places. Yelp wouldn’t do anyone any good if we all only wrote glowing reviews right? How would we know which restaurants were the best and which ones to avoid? But writing “bad” reviews isn’t easy.

During a recent dinner out with friends (who ALL happened to be very active Yelpers) we had a not so great experience. During our meal we talked a lot about writing our not so great reviews and how to do it properly. I decided that I’d share my thoughts on just how to write a “bad” review. You want to get your point across but you don’t want to sound like a whiney baby either. You want the owners to see what mistakes they are making, but also know if they were doing anything right. How do you do that? Follow these simple steps.

**These steps would apply to wonderful reviews as well. 

1. Use your words! If you are going to say that the service stunk at a restaurant, explain why. Was it the waiter? The hostess? Did you have to wait too long for your food? Were people rude? Make sure to explain WHY you feel a certain way about an establishment. The same goes for compliments. Explain WHY something is so awesome.

Example: “The Grasshopper [cupcake] was by far my favorite one! The mint frosting was just minty enough and the chocolate cake was super moist.  Also, the cake to frosting ratio on these cupcakes was perfect!”

In a review about cupcakes I not only made mention of which one was my favorite I went on to say WHY it was my favorite. I understand that sometimes you eat something amazing and the only thing you can think to say is OH EM GEE, but try to follow it up with a couple reasons why if you can.

2. Use your pictures! Take pictures! That saying that a picture is worth a thousand words REALLY applies here. Its way easier to show someone that wasn’t there that your fries came out burnt if you can post a picture to go along with it. Or a picture of your sandwich, the hand written sign describing it, and your buddy chowing down on said sandwich to show how tasty it was 🙂

3. Be fair! Always make sure to tell the whole story. I wrote a review of a hotel I stayed in recently where the service was pretty awful, BUT the hotel itself was amazing. Even though I had every intention of making sure that my disappointment with their service was noted in my review I made a point of starting by saying how the hotel itself didn’t have any issues. The rooms were beautiful, the hotel was clean, and it was in a great location…. BUT, the service sucked.

So there ya have it, my 3 simple steps to writing a good “bad” (or good) Yelp review. If you want to see how I do it first hand, feel free to head one over and check out all my Yelp reviews. I actually hit review #100 on Sunday and I’m stupidly excited about it. Yep, I’m a super nerd.


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