It's easy to buy online reviews for any site you want to get more reviews on. But there's some risk involved too. Here we take a look at what's on the line as well as some alternative options.
You can buy a real coyote skull, bacon-flavored floss and a coffin on Amazon, so suffice it to say you can buy pretty much anything these days.
Business owners or managers might want to order bulk office supplies, a "World's Best Boss" mug, and maybe a few five-star reviews...
It's remarkably easy to pay for reviews, and often quite tempting too, especially since even just a few positive reviews can have a big impact on business. But there are some risks involved - sometimes very big risks (we'll get to that in just a minute).
Buying reviews is also totally unnecessary when getting positive reviews in an ethical way is just as easy (we'll get to that in a minute too).
Why Buy Reviews?
The temptation to buy reviews is real. They're a powerful tool for generating new business. Most consumers (almost all) consider online reviews when making buying decisions, and they take seriously what they read:
- 85 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends, according to a recent survey.
- 49 percent said they need a business to have a rating of at least four stars before using it.
- The average person wants a business to have 34 reviews in order to trust its rating.
- 77 percent of people surveyed say that reviews that are more than three months old aren't relevant.
- 68% of people say that online reviews affect their purchasing decisions.
So what does that tell us? For one thing, businesses need to get a steady stream of positive reviews in order to keep the customers coming.
And those reviews really do directly translate to sales. One study of restaurants found that a one-star increase on Yelp translated to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
Your business needs positive reviews, and your actual customers might not be delivering at the rate you need. Paying someone to write fake reviews would be easy to arrange...
A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Reviews
- Repeat step 1.
- Have some ice cream to celebrate doing the right (and smart) thing!
Wait, That Didn't Work!
Buying reviews just isn't worth the risk because this practice can backfire spectacularly in one of several ways:
- Review sites are very good at figuring out when reviews aren't real, and they're getting better at filtering out these reviews every day. Yelp, in particular, is known for its sensitive recommendation software, which is updated constantly and hides reviews that are flagged as potentially illegitimate. Google is beginning to follow the same path.
- Consumers are also much more savvy than you think at determining when reviews are real or fake. Of course, many - maybe even most - people who read a fake review won't realize it, but all it takes is one savvy reader to raise a flag. For instance, if one reader catches on and posts a message on Facebook talking about your shady, untrustworthy reviews and that post gets shared, your reputation will take a major hit.
- Review sites take this subject seriously and may penalize businesses caught with fake reviews on their pages. Again, Yelp is the most on-the-ball about this. Under its Consumer Alerts program, Yelp posts a large pop-up message on the pages of businesses that have illegitimate reviews. The pop-up stays on the page for 90 days, alerting every customer who visits the page during that time that the business in question was caught with fake reviews.
- It's potentially illegal. Some businesses have faced hefty fines and other legal trouble because of soliciting fake reviews.
Basically, paying people to write fake reviews - or giving discounts or other perks to real customers in exchange for writing positive reviews - is a waste of money and an all-around headache.
The Better Way to Get Reviews
To recap: getting reviews is necessary, while buying reviews is bad. What's a business to do?
It's actually pretty simple. First, put your energy into earning positive reviews by emphasizing customer service and doing everything within your power to satisfy existing customers. Then use an automated system like ReputationStacker to get those customers to write authentic reviews.
All you have to do is get an email address or phone number from your customers and enter it into the ReputationStacker system. The system them automatically contacts them with a one-question survey, identifying the satisfied customers and funneling them to the review site of your choice. Dissatisfied customers are funneled back to you, giving you a chance to follow up with them and address their concerns.
Many customers who are pleased with your service will be willing to review you, provided it's easy for them to do. ReputationStacker removes all the hurdles and makes it easy to get a steady stream of positive reviews posted on sites like Yelp, Facebook and Google.
(Don't) Show Me the Money
Buying fake reviews is a waste of money and time in the best of circumstances. If fake reviews are discovered by site administrators or your customers, the fallout can be devastating.
Put your efforts into earning positive reviews and let ReputationStacker do the heavy lifting of getting your customers to post those reviews on major sites.