Don’t buy Google reviews — do this instead
Given the power of online reviews and positive reviews, it may be tempting to buy five-star reviews for your business pages on review sites, such as Google reviews, Yelp, local search engines, Amazon, TripAdvisor and social media channels. Especially if your small business relies on Google reviews to grow your customer base.
But here’s why you should never buy reviews: Buying good reviews could cause legal trouble, harm your online reputation and turn potential customers away.
This article will share top ideas for getting legit Google reviews from real people and delivering sustainable business growth by standing out in Google Search.
Free Guide & Checklist: How To Respond To Reviews
Why do businesses buy Google reviews?
Businesses may be desperate to get more five-star ratings or increase their number of reviews and decide to buy positive Google reviews, especially if they’re just getting started and don’t have many high-quality customer reviews.
But you’ll see from this article, it’s never a good idea to purchase Google reviews — or fake reviews on other platforms either.
If you want to get more online reviews and positive reviews, the best strategies for doing that include:
- Asking real people who have done business with your local company to submit customer reviews, helping your company stand out in search engines and on Google Maps
- Paying attention to your online presence, learning what your customer base has to say about your business and using these insights to optimize your products and services
- Working to ensure a positive customer experience for everyone who does business with your company
- Responding to your negative reviews in a way that shows consideration and respect so that customers can change their minds about your business and maybe their star rating
- Showing appreciation for customers who have submitted positive reviews by writing a thank you comment, so others will be motivated to do the same
Is it illegal to buy Google reviews?
Yes. Paying for fake reviews on Google, other review sites and review platforms (such as the Google Play Store) could result in legal action. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) actively pursues cases and files complaints when it believes the law has been violated, such as when companies buy fake reviews or service providers create fake reviews for other businesses.
For example, in 2022, the FTC announced it reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with a company that suppressed negative reviews and used a third-party company to automatically post four- and five-star reviews to the brand’s website. Similarly, in 2019, the FTC announced a legal case against a company that used fake reviews to bolster its online reputation.
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection director explained the FTC is taking fake reviews seriously because consumers today rely heavily on online reviews when making purchase decisions. Buying fake reviews is harmful to both shoppers and companies that generate genuine positive reviews.
What are the risks of buying Google reviews?
There are several risks to buying Google reviews. Doing so could result in:
- Legal action, as explained above
- Suspension of your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business (GMB)) for violating the search engine’s guidelines
- The fake reviews you’ve paid for being removed, either automatically by Google’s spam detection filters (see more details below) or manually after being flagged as inappropriate by individual users
- Damage to your online reputation, which could turn away potential customers
Can Google detect fake reviews?
Yes. Per Google’s guidelines, the company has automatic spam detection filters to flag fake reviews and other reviews the platform perceives as inappropriate or that violate the company’s policies.
Does buying Google reviews work?
The Google search engine has automatic spam detection filters to detect fake Google Business Profile and Google Maps reviews. For instance, overly positive Google reviews are an indication that a company has been buying Google reviews.
If fake five-star Google reviews go undetected and get published on your business listing, potential customers aren’t likely to be fooled. Anyone can flag inappropriate Google reviews that seem suspicious. Individuals can distinguish between genuine customer feedback and overly positive reviews resulting from incentives.
Why you shouldn’t buy Google reviews
There are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t buy Google business reviews.
1. Buying Google reviews violates Google’s guidelines
Not only is it against Google’s guidelines for businesses to offer incentives for reviews, but the company also prohibits any content with a conflict of interest. Per Google’s guidelines, content is “most valuable when it is honest and unbiased.”
2. Customers will notice if you buy Google reviews
It’s easy to spot the differences between fake reviews and honest customer feedback. Companies that pay for disingenuous five-star reviews risk losing customer trust.
3. There are legal ramifications to consider before buying Google reviews
As detailed above, the FTC goes after companies that influence customer reviews, whether they attempt to suppress negative reviews or inflate positive reviews through buying or selling fake positive reviews.
What you can do instead of buying reviews
Instead of buying Google reviews, the best thing you can do is get Google reviews the right way by asking real customers for real reviews.
Step 1: Send clients a review link via:
- Email marketing
- SMS marketing (WhatsApp or text messages)
- Social media outreach
- Direct mailing
Step 2: Use these templates to ask for customer reviews.
Step 3: Know how to respond to Google reviews to show customers you value their opinions. And yes, responding to reviews helps SEO.
Step 4: Use your positive reviews as part of your customer review marketing to grow your online reviews.
Step 5: Track Google reviews your company receives to monitor and maximize your online reputation.
Why do you need Google reviews?
Customer reviews on Google are vital for your business because they:
- Strengthen your online reputation and online presence, as long as they are high-quality, positive Google reviews.
- Give business owners a clear picture of the overall customer experience. As new reviews come in, it’s easy to see what leads to positive feedback and happy customers versus bad reviews.
- Help local businesses gain new customers’ trust. After all, potential customers often turn to business listings on popular review sites to:
- See the star ratings on Google Maps.
- Read through bad reviews and the experiences of happy customers.
- Inform their own purchase decisions. According to researchers, 93 percent of customers check out online reviews before buying a product, and 84 percent say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their family and friends.
- Improve your placement in Google Maps and local search/local SEO. According to Google’s guidelines, online reviews are essential to maximizing your company’s visibility through search via your Google Business Profile listings.
According to the search engine, relevance is one important factor the company uses to determine local search rankings with its search algorithm. Detailed Google reviews help add meaning and context to your listing. That’s why asking for reviews is an effective digital marketing strategy.
Let Broadly handle your business reputation management
Broadly helps business owners and local businesses grow their online reviews, understand customer feedback and improve the customer experience.
Digital marketing, review management and reputation management tools can help you enhance your business profile. Learn how to get more customer reviews on social media, Yelp, Google Maps and other leading review sites to fuel your business’s growth.
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