We should say from the start that we understand why someone might be tempted to game Google’s reviews. Online reviews have become an extremely important signal for consumers. If a company’s Google listing features overwhelmingly good reviews people are more likely to trust the company and hire them.
Having lots of poor reviews have the opposite effect. These reviews can make or break a company’s future business prospects. There’s a lot at stake, so we understand why buying Google reviews or paying to have fake reviews written is a tempting strategy.
But it’s a terrible idea.
Apart from the obvious ethical problems, (it’s just plain wrong), the chances that it will work in your favor are far outstripped by the chances that it will cause more damage than good. And the more often you do it, the more likely the house of cards you’re building will come crashing down around you, taking your business reputation along with it.
Here are the reasons you should never buy Google reviews or have fake reviews written on your behalf:
1. Fake reviews go against Google’s terms of service
“Sure”, you say. “But that’s only if they catch you.” Okay. That’s fair. But they will catch you.
Google takes the authenticity of reviews on their site VERY seriously. And they have the world’s best software engineers on their payroll. You can bet they have extremely powerful algorithms pouring through reviews looking for fakes. With AI and machine learning, these algorithms are very good at spotting bogus reviews.
So maybe if you did it once you MIGHT get away with it. Maybe. But probably not.
Certainly, the more reviews you purchase, the chances of Google figuring things out increases dramatically. And if you are caught, and you will be caught, Google will likely terminate your business listing and blacklist you from the site.
You’ll go from a business on Google without a lot of reviews to a business that’s not on Google at all. That’s a terrible conversion.
Google is the single most trusted business review service on the internet. If you don’t even show up in their listings, your future prospects start spiraling badly.
2. Fake testimonials online aren’t fair to your customers.
Let’s pretend for a moment that Google isn’t good at spotting counterfeit reviews and you manage to get yours into your company profile. Have you won?
Not at all. People are naturally very good at spotting fakes, and they certainly won’t reward you for dishonesty.
People normally react to fake reviews one of two ways:
- Either they spot them immediately and punish the company by completely discounting them from their future purchasing decisions.
- Or the person just gets a bad feeling about the company and completely discounts them from their future purchasing decisions.
In the latter case, they may not know why they’re getting a weird read off of the Google reviews on the company’s page, but some part of their mind is picking up on subtle cues that tell them these reviews shouldn’t be trusted.
So whether a person spots your fakes immediately or just senses them on a subconscious level, the result is the same. You’ll be out of the running for future business.
And when your fake reviews are spotted outright, they can breed negative reviews, from people trying to warn others about the obvious fake reviews in your listing.
3. Technically, it’s illegal to pay for Google reviews
And you could get hit with a hefty fine if you’re caught. In 2013, after a year of investigation, the FTC revealed the results of a sting operation it had been carrying out under the name “Operation Clean Turf”. Nineteen companies were busted for either writing fake reviews for Google and other sites or for soliciting them. Fines reached as high as $100,000 in some cases. This made it clear the FTC was no longer tolerating the practice.
It’s illegal because it amounts to false advertising.
You aren’t allowed to lie to consumers, and soliciting fake reviews is an attempt to do exactly that. If you’re caught you’ll suffer a fine, and a permanent stain on your reputation.
Buying Google reviews or having fake reviews written simply isn’t worth it. The small bump in your Google listing they might get you isn’t worth the much higher penalties associated with getting caught.
And you probably will get caught.
Is the inevitable loss of your Google listing, your reputation, and the cash taken via fines really worth it?
Bottom Line: Don’t buy Google reviews. Earn them.
If you’re really interested in building value for yourself on Google, you should be earning your positive reviews.
Yes, this takes more time, but the value to your business is far higher.
For one, they won’t self-destruct, destroying your reputation in the process. They’ll actually positively influence customer behavior, driving more business through your doors, and with more business, handled properly, should lead to even more positive reviews.
It’s a positive feedback loop.
So how do you get more positive reviews? Ask for them.
Seven out of ten customers say they’d leave a review if asked.
2 Step Reviews helps you get real reviews from real customers
Our easy-to-use app automates the process. Just enter your customer’s name and contact info and let the app ask for the review for you.
We know how to ask for a review, and our specific language greatly increases the chances of getting one.
Want More Google Reviews?
Customers come and go, but reviews last forever. Try 2 Step Reviews for 30 days free, no credit card required, and see what you can accomplish for your business. Each review is an investment into your next customer.