Although it may seem like a good idea to purchase fake online reviews or incentivize your customers for positive ones, this is not the best course of action. We will explore why paying for reviews is an absolute no-no. And why you’re better off with another viable solution instead.
It will require one thing though. Working hard to draw in more favorable feedback about your business can be an efficient way to expand its reach and success.
Ultimately, customers depend on reviews to determine which businesses should be promoted and which ones deserve your ignominy.
Why do you need genuine online reviews?
A recent survey revealed an overwhelming majority of consumers, 84%, rely on online reviews just as much as they would trust in-person recommendations.
Moreover, an overwhelming majority of consumers trust a local business more if they read positive reviews about it – 74 percent to be exact. Additionally, approximately 70 percent will write a review when asked.
The fact is – reviews work. But should you be paying for reviews?
Without a doubt, the answer to this question is a resounding no. Let’s explore why this decision is final. We will also look into discovering ethical ways with which you can easily get more positive online reviews.
Paying for Reviews does not work out
Everyone loves a good deal, so it’s understandable why businesses might be tempted to offer incentives like coupons, discounts or free merchandise in exchange for online reviews. However, this strategy can backfire and damage your business’s credibility if customers suspect they are being manipulated into writing favorable reviews.
Despite the temptation, this isn’t a prudent solution for numerous reasons.
It doesn’t work (again)
If you’re daring enough to hand out coupons to a few close friends in exchange for five-star reviews on Yelp, only to discover that there’s no trace of them after they’ve redeemed the coupon – it can be quite discouraging.
Ok but they said they reviewed you on Yelp. So why isn’t there any sign of those fake reviews?
Did the reviews vanish into thin air? Chances are they were blocked by Yelp’s review filter.
Yelp keeps its review filter’s inner workings a secret, but leverages complex algorithms to eliminate any reviews that could be written by those with vested interests.
If you want to guarantee that people see your Yelp reviews, make sure they are written by active Yelp users. Even with these precautions, it is not unusual for a review to be held up in the site’s filter system. In fact, many of the major review sites use algorithms that vet consumer feedback and only post genuine reviews from real customers.
Consequently, if you provide incentives for people to post reviews, it is possible that those reviews may not be visible publicly due to Yelp rules – leaving you with a financial or material loss.
It hits your reputation
Visualize a new business opening up in your neighborhood. You haven’t visited yet, however, you have noticed that the company is already receiving heaps of favorable feedback.
Would you still have faith in a business and its reviews if they had claimed to be rewarded with something free for writing that five-star review? This exact situation can occur to your company too. All it takes is one person mentioning the discounts available when leaving online reviews. Word has an uncanny way of getting around quickly!
You don’t want to be caught in this scenario.
Have you considered what could happen if that one person is an avid reviewer who posts a negative comment accusing you of attempting to manipulate them into writing a positive review?
In that case, your review didn’t just fizzle out, it spectacularly blew up in your face.
You may be surprised to learn that this is more common than you assume. Furthermore, don’t forget what the survey earlier on revealed – consumers take reviews into serious consideration when deciding where to spend their money. Your review tactics could even cause public embarrassment for your business too; many websites have a zero-tolerance policy towards businesses attempting to manipulate the system and will punish them accordingly if they are caught trying to buy positive reviews.
For instance, Yelp takes a zero-tolerance policy in regard to businesses they find soliciting reviews: they will display an imposing Consumer Alerts banner on the business’s page for 90 days. This period is sufficient enough to cause lasting damage to your reputation and not just a minor inconvenience.
Consider the Legal Consequences
The legal system is now rigorously prosecuting those who maliciously attempt to fabricate positive reviews on the ever-growing online review sites.
In 2013, a major investigation conducted by New York’s Attorney General uncovered 19 corporations that were engaged in the illicit practice of producing fake reviews. Consequently, these companies had to pay hefty fines totaling more than $350,000!
Although you may not be purchasing false reviews, if you’re providing incentives for your genuine customers to post their opinion it is possible the Federal Trade Commission will be paying attention.
If you create ads that feature customer testimonials, quotes from incentivized reviews, or any other form of endorsement in your campaigns, the FTC may issue fines for not following their regulations. Therefore it is essential to ensure compliance with all relevant guidelines when developing advertisements.
It is unlikely that you will incur any legal repercussions for exchanging products or services in exchange for positive reviews, but why take the risk? Authentic customer feedback can be acquired without a reward, making it easy and worthwhile to do so.
Reviewers are smart in spotting fake reviews
Although you might be able to pass the filter, your danger is far from over! If users on review sites like Yelp catch wind of any fake reviews published by your company, it can quickly become a PR nightmare.
Expert reviewers can easily distinguish fake reviews from real ones. As an example, if a business with few followers and connections has too many positive reviews without verifiable evidence, it will be immediately deemed untrustworthy.
What occurs if you’re found out for your deceitful tactics? Not only could the paid review be exposed and removed, but also some other reviewers may retaliate by leaving negative reviews about you in public.
It harms your SEO efforts
Are you aware that customer reviews are one of Google’s top three ranking criteria for local SEO? Yes, what your customers think and say about your product or service is an important factor in search engine results.
Bogus reviews can drastically damage your company’s local search ranking, not only on organic searches but also from Google Maps’ 3-map bundle.
Google has sternly warned advertisers and brands to stop purchasing fake reviews, as their spam detection algorithm will unearth any illicit activity. If these fabricated reviews are detected and taken down, your overall amount of reviews will decline which can cause a plunge in your SEO ranking. To avoid potential consequences, it is highly advised that you remain honest with the feedback acquired for both ethical reasons and to protect yourself against unfavorable search engine results.
In addition, Google will demote your rank significantly, leaving behind a large portion of organic traffic.
Buying Reviews is not Worth The Risk
While it may be tempting to post online reviews by paid reviewers, they won’t truly convey the reality of your product or service. These false narratives are not only a misrepresentation but can also lead to dissatisfied customers and long-term harm to your business brand. Real customer testimonials that capture actual experiences will do far more than falsified reviews in gaining trust with potential buyers, giving them an honest review that is all too rare today.
Fake reviews are discernible from legitimate ones. They often over-flatter and feature too much praise to be realistic. Having fake reviews can inflict plenty of harm on your business; once customers find out about them, it will damage the faith that they have in you or your company. Relying on artificial endorsements is nothing but a disservice to yourself and potential customers alike!
For small business owners, having a good reputation and positive word of mouth is essential. Not only do customers need to be aware that fake reviews exist, but review sites will too. Additionally, it’s easier than you think to accumulate genuine customer feedback; as long as your product or service meets the standards and you are providing satisfactory customer service, reviews should come naturally.
While the majority of reviews will be positive, there may also be a few bad ones. Unfavorable reviews should still remain on your website if they are real and you make an effort to reply to them – this can add another layer of trustworthiness for potential customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is paying for reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp harmful?
Paying for reviews on platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp is harmful because it is a form of fraud and deception. It artificially inflates a business’s reputation and misleads potential customers about the true nature of the business. These platforms have strict policies against buying reviews and will penalize businesses that are caught doing so by removing or hiding the reviews, or penalizing the business in its search ranking or visibility.
What are the consequences of paying for reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp?
The consequences of paying for reviews on these platforms can include penalties from the platform, such as removing or hiding the fake reviews, and a lower search ranking or visibility. Additionally, it can damage the business’s reputation and credibility and can lead to mistrust from customers.
What are some other ways to improve my rating on Google, Facebook, and Yelp?
Some other ways to improve your rating on Google, Facebook, and Yelp include providing excellent customer service, encouraging satisfied customers to leave honest reviews, and responding to reviews, both positive and negative. Additionally, a business can optimize its profile by providing detailed information and high-quality photos of its products and services.
How can these platforms detect fake reviews?
These platforms use sophisticated algorithms to detect and filter out fake reviews. They use a number of factors such as review content, IP address, and user activity, to identify and filter out fake reviews. If a business is found to have purchased or fake reviews, the platform will penalize them as described above.
Is it a common practice to pay for reviews?
Unfortunately, paying for reviews is a common practice among some businesses, especially those that are struggling to attract customers. However, it is important to note that this is an unethical and prohibited practice by these platforms and it can cause long-term damage to the business’s reputation and credibility.
How can a business avoid paying for reviews?
A business can avoid paying for reviews by focusing on providing excellent customer service, encouraging satisfied customers to leave honest reviews, and responding to all reviews, both positive and negative. Additionally, they can avoid scams or services offering fake reviews and focus on organic growth by promoting their presence on these platforms and working on their SEO.
The last word on fake reviews
Offering discounts or other incentives in exchange for positive reviews may seem like a good idea, but it is simply too risky to accept. The consequences of going down this path can be drastic and include damaging your reputation or incurring hefty fines. Don’t risk it – the potential rewards don’t justify taking such chances with your business! Paying for reviews is just not worth it both in the short as well as long term.