Paying For Reviews is Tempting
Maybe you are a new start up company and want some positive reviews quickly. Perhaps you discovered some negative reviews and want to push them down with positive reviews. Maybe you were contacted by someone offering to write a good review in exchange for money or services. Since reviews for products and services have become such a huge factor in determining where a customer is going to eat, shop, stay, buy, etc, it is easy to see why so many business owners are tempted to pay for some positive reviews. Add into the fact that there is no way to remove a negative review from many of the most popular review websites and you can see why many business owners look toward paying for reviews.
Should I Pay For Reviews?
No. Aside from the fact that paying for a fake review is unethical, it is also illegal and if you get caught, the whole world will know.
The Federal Trade Commission bans undisclosed endorsements. This includes reviews that you read online. A recent study conducted by Gartner suggest that by 2014, between 10%-15% of all online reviews will be created by someone who was paid to write it. Because of this, both the government and review websites are cracking down on fake reviews. For example, New York State recently cracked down on several companies, fining them up to $100,000 apiece for having paid others to post positive reviews online (Business Insider, 9/2013).
Additionally websites such as Yelp, are cracking down on those who post fake reviews or pay for them. Yelp in particular displays a large red box over your reviews that tells the world that you were caught paying for reviews. Ultimately, once you are caught, your reputation is harmed much more then a few negative reviews ever could do.
Legitimate Ways to Gain Positive Reviews
Here are some ideas for gaining positive reviews the legal and ethical way:
- Ask your satisfied clients to review your services.
- Provide a link to your online reviews on your website, with a QR code or sign so happy customers can easily get to your listing to review you.
- Send a thank you card or email to your customers with a note to review your listings.
- Be sure to review and stay current with the Terms of Service for each of the different review websites to make sure you are within their guidelines before you do anything.