More and more customers prefer reading online reviews before making a final purchasing decision, and statistics reveal that more than 93% of consumers check online product reviews before purchasing.
Online reviews strengthen the core of any business and help them highlight their authenticity, but some businesses use illegal tactics such as buying fake positive reviews in Google to try to improve their online reputation quickly.
This approach may seem harmless for expanding your business, but it doesn’t come without risk. The harm caused by these tactics may damage your brand’s online reputation, hurt your rankings, and cost you a considerable fine from the regulators, but most importantly, you’ll be missing the point of what the reputation game is about.
Reasons why you should never opt for buying REVIEWS
You can be tempted to buy fake reviews after seeing your business on Google Maps with unfair customer reviews and disappointing review ratings. But before you consider doing it, take a look at these reasons why trying to cheat the system can destroy your digital marketing efforts.
Reason 1: Google will find out. For real.
Google has the best engineers, technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and computing power in the world. If that’s not enough reason, they have spent the last 20 years polishing their spam & fake content detection machine. That’s why we still Google in Google and why advertisers still trust Google Ads for their campaigns.
The point is that whoever is selling you fake reviews from a basement, fake reviews will be eventually flagged by Google (even if they still appear), and your brand/business will be penalised.
We’ve seen the same in the SEO world, and the impact that Panda and Penguin updates had on the businesses who spent years buying fake links and spamming content across the web.
Buying fake online reviews is the fastest way to inform Google that your brand is not authentic and trustworthy.
According to Google’s Guidelines, the following things are considered deceptive:
- Fake Engagement
Google also says that:
Don’t post fake content to mislead your customers.Google Guidelines for local businesses
When Google detects fake reviews it can remove them or even take tougher measures like suspend your listing, leaving you in serious trouble. According to Google its Fraud Detection Program stopped 3 million fake company profiles and 55 million fake reviews.
Reason 2: It’s an illegal Practice
Buying fake reviews will not only leave your business in trouble with Google but also face the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC) penalties. According to section 5 of the FTC act, using fake engagement to improve business exposure is illegal. This act considers fake testimonials and reviews deceptive for the following reasons:
· The deceptive content of fake reviews misleads the customers
· Fake reviews are not based on authentic customer experience
The FTC puts severe penalties against the allegations of customers frauds. For example, in 2017, 9 vehicle leaderships in California had to pay $3.6 million for buying fake online reviews.
In 2019, a weight-loss supplement retailer was fined $12.8 million for purchasing fake reviews, in this case in Amazon.Inc.com
Reason 3: Customers will Identify Fake Reviews
Identifying a fake review is not as complicated as business owners assume. More than 80% of users have reported reading fake checks in 2019.
Your customers are not foolish; they can differentiate fake reviews from real ones as well as you can.
Fake reviews have the following things in common that can help customers notice them at first read:
- Fake reviews are written only in particularly niche or industry
- The reviewer is not very active on Google, typically has 1 or 2 reviews
- Different accounts often post the same fake reviews
- They never leave images (obviously)
Besides this information, customers can use several online applications to spot fraudulent reviews. These applications help customers identify the red flags that don’t often appear in reviews based on authentic customer experience.
There’s also what some experts call “persuasive imperfection paradox”: more than 95% of customers suspect you’re censoring fake reviews if they don’t find anything wrong with your product or services.
Yes, sometimes 4.8 is better than 5.
Reason 4: Lack of Authenticity
Fake reviews are easily identifiable by the type of content and language they use. These reviews don’t highlight why your product deserves five stars and It can give no value to your business page, rather than temporarily increase your real rating. If you buy fake reviews by offering some incentives in return, you risk that the reviewer can mention this in the review, making your business look insincere.
Potential customers will never trust your offerings when they see these fraudulent reviews. Instead of targeting new customers, your company can end up with customer churn. Things can worsen if you’re running a small local business.
Reason 5: It’s bad for SEO
Google uses an array of factors to decide the ranking of your business page. It looks for hundreds of signals looking for authenticity, and as we very well know, is doubling down in the spam & fake reviews detection algorithms. If the platform finds any deceptive or misleading content on your business page, it can waste all your SEO efforts, affecting the ranking of your page in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Besides that, fake reviews lack authenticity, which is what Google is looking for, so they are really hurting your business in the long run.
Investing in fake reviews is becoming increasingly popular among desperate business owners who want to improve their rating in Google maps within no time. This illegal practice can make your business end up with heavy fines, terrible reputation and probably fired. It can also damage the reputation of your business more than negative organic reviews, which when properly managed can be used to our favour.
Instead of buying fake reviews and putting your business at risk, you can grow, amplify and manage your Google reviews with Localboss. It is a practical and super-easy application that helps micro and small businesses get control of Google reviews.
The app connects securely to your Google Business Profile account, analyses your data, and provides actionable suggestions such as if you get X number of 5-star reviews, you’ll reach 4.5 ratings.
So why not give it a try?