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Buying fake reviews is never a good idea. Laws are changing, the downsides are many, and it's important to know the risks. You're better than that.
The Short Version (We're All Busy):
Don't buy Google reviews. Or any other sort of online feedback. Ever.
The Long Version:
There are many varieties of online review fraud. One of the most prevalent, which comes with the highest risk to your business, is paying for disingenuous and fraudulent customer feedback.
Sure, it’s tempting. Fake reviews and star ratings can give any business a short-term boost - but don't be fooled: in the long run, buying online reviews is an awful idea. Abysmal. Simply too terrible to risk. We implore you not to consider it.
Fake Reviews: A Definition
Fake online reviews encompass any feedback that is not a genuine opinion or experience related to a product, service or business. They can be either positive, neutral, or negative depending on whether the intent is to help a business or hurt a competitor. Fraudulent reviews do not reflect the honest opinions of actual customers.
Still mulling it over? If you think you can get away with playing fast and loose with customer trust by manipulating public opinion through fabricated five-star assessments, guess again. You're going to land in hot penalized water, lose customer trust and/or end up with a massive fine quicker than green grass goes through a goose.
Not 100% dissuaded as of yet? You will be by the time you’ve finished this article. Not only are fake reviews simply fraudulent (and beneath you), but there's a whole host of other reasons why this sneaky tactic won't pay off for marketers. Keep reading to find out what they are, and we had very little trouble coming up with so many.
Where do we start? There’s no way the (debatable) upside of paying for reviews is worth, or matches in terms of pros, the myriad of likely cons(equences). Let’s break down some of the potential negative effects:
There are many companies that offer legitimate review management services and effective feedback generation strategies - but all of the reviews are from real customers in those cases. If you’re not sure if a vendor’s offerings are within FTC or major platform guidelines, ask. If you don’t like their answer, walk away. Quickly.
Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Look out for vendors who are overly pushy, have a lack of knowledge about their products and general guidelines, or try to get you to make a purchase without giving you time to think. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a dodgy review charlatan trying to make a quick buck. So, keep your guard up and your wallet/reputation safe.
When it comes to online shopping, what's worse than a product with no reviews? One with fake reviews, dear reader.
Not only is it morally questionable, but it's also risky business. Platforms like Google, Amazon and Yelp (not to mention the FTC) are cracking down on fake reviews left and right, and if they catch you red-handed, the consequences can be severe. You must put in the work to build up a collection of genuine, trustworthy social proof instead. Your bottom line, reputation and conscience will thank you.
Forget about surveys and focus groups, real customer feedback is what truly matters when it comes to your potential for success. I mean, who knows your product or service better than the people who are actually using it? You might think you know what your customers want, but they’ll always surprise you with original insights. So listen to your customers, whether it's good, bad, or ugly, because their opinion is the only one that really counts. Phony reviews don't offer these benefits, and who can’t benefit from brutally honest feedback?
All in all, the takeaway is simple – buy reviews at your own risk. Despite what vendors may claim, you probably won't outsmart anyone and you're certainly not going to fool customers, platforms or the FTC. Not for long, anyway. Instead of taking shortcuts to build rock-solid online reputations, put effort into creating products and services that can stand behind themselves.
To stay above board, consider a review generation software, like Invite, that automatically texts each of your real customers to leave a genuine review - so you never even need to think about paying for fake ones.
A digital marketing dinosaur, my SEO career began in 1999 at one of Boston's first digital marketing agencies. Prior to becoming Widewail's Director of Search I had a long focus on GMB, reviews and local organic visibility for automotive dealerships in competitive locales. Regardless of a specific industry, this decade of experience was the perfect precursor for a role supporting our innovative Engage and Invite services. Originally from Canada, I enjoy hockey, Frank Sinatra, writing on a variety of subjects, old movies - and am the proud parent of a geriatric Boston Terrier. Customers, peers, or anyone with online review-related questions are encouraged to contact me, anytime.
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