When building your business's online reputation, it can be tempting to take shortcuts and try to buy Google reviews.
This is often the case with new businesses who know that Google reviews are critical to building their business online, but haven't had any reviews come in from customers yet. Buying reviews on Google is still seen by some as an easy and affordable solution. You only have to look online to see that business owners are still looking to “buy Google reviews”. The big question is: should you do so?
Well, fake it till you make it may apply to many facets of life but it certainly doesn’t apply to Google reviews. While it may be tempting to buy Google reviews, we are here to inform you that it will have disastrous consequences for your small business.
By now, you probably know the significance of Google reviews for small businesses. You know that getting more reviews and higher star ratings can grow your business.
That’s because customers are increasingly seeking online reviews to know more about products and services. In the 18 - 34 age group, more than 90 per cent of customers take online reviews seriously. One of the reasons could be that almost 75 per cent of consumers don’t believe the conventional advertising messages that brands send out.
So, online reputation is important and Google reviews are an integral part of it. Unfortunately, scammers are also aware of it.
They mostly target businesses that have low ratings on Google reviews. They promise an immediate turnaround in reviews that kickstart the business on an upwards trajectory. If you’re a small, local business that is struggling to build your online presence, this can seem like a lifesaving option.
Unfortunately, there are no magic fixes for building a digital reputation. In the long term, fake Google reviews can do more damage than good.
Fake Google review companies provide fake reviews from phoney customers to attempt to improve the online reputation of a business. To get one, all you have to do is go to Google and search — “buy Google reviews.” But our advice is do not do that!
That will open the floodgates for shady firms who will offer to review the business with five-star ratings and fake praise. There are even freelancers who will do it for you.
However appealing it may be, remember that this shortcut will cost you and your business a lot in the medium and long run. Buying Google reviews is simply not worth it because of the lasting problems it will end up creating.
Whenever you engage with an online platform or service, there’s an implicit agreement that you will abide by its guidelines. Google has made it abundantly clear that they only want genuine customers to review products and services.
The search engine doesn’t want anyone to post fake reviews or false content. For example, their algorithms can detect content coming from the same I.P. address. They will know, even if it’s posted from different accounts.
If they can build the world’s biggest search engine and a host of other services that have changed our lives, they should know how to track down scam reviews. It’s not a good idea to test their capabilities — if ever a loophole opens up, it won’t take Google very long to figure it out.
So, then what happens, if they realise that your business has been getting fake reviews? Unlike other review platforms that may stop at consumer alerts, Google can shut down your business listing.
That means losing the centre of your online presence. No one will be able to find you or know about you on Google reviews. That will be a devastating blow to your local business’ growth potential.
When we say you 'can' buy Google reviews, we really mean this in the sense that you 'can' shoplift, steal a car, or watch the BBC iPlayer without a TV licence. You can. There's no magic force field stopping you.
That doesn't mean it's legal.
As a local business, the last thing you want is a government authority investigating you. And if it’s the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Office of Fair Trading, you know that it will be serious. When you buy Google reviews and post fake endorsements, that’s precisely what could happen.
In the USA, the FTC has deemed any undisclosed paid endorsement to be illegal. In other words, if you have paid someone to endorse your business or post positive reviews, you have to disclose it.
In the UK, purchasing or writing fake reviews falls under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The Office of Fair Trading can prosecute, and the Competition and Markets Authority has also taken action against companies posting fake reviews.
Any violation can invite hefty fines. That’s the kind of financial pressure that can break your small business.
Contrary to what the fake review companies say, people can easily spot a fake endorsement. Five-star ratings and exaggerated claims rarely sound authentic and reviewers don’t tend to sound like marketers. Customers quickly become suspicious about these types of reviews, especially when they are so consistent and similar.
Once consumers come to know, it will irreparably damage your reputation. Even those customers who were happy with your services won’t be inclined to give you a good rating. That’s because they wouldn’t want to be seen among the fake reviews.
On top of it, they will talk about it in social media groups. Your competitors will also use it against you.
Every business needs feedback to grow. A negative review from an honest customer will show you problems that you probably didn’t know about. It will also encourage you to become more customer-centric.
When you buy Google reviews, you are blocking out those criticisms. And no one can grow without criticism.
Instead of buying Google reviews in order to improve your business's search rankings, you should instead develop effective strategies for asking customers for reviews on Google. And that's where Chalkboard can help!
You can gain more authentic customer reviews and maximise the power of positive reviews with Chalkboard: the second-line app for work. You can ask customers directly for reviews with a simple text message, and you will be notified as soon as you get a new review.
It is this type of customer outreach that will benefit your business in the long run – not buying Google reviews. Proactively asking for feedback and learning how to get Google reviews organically will also help strengthen your customer relationships and attract the attention of potential new customers too.
There’s no shortcut to long-term brand management. The right way to build your reputation is by seeking reviews and learning from them. If requesting reviews is difficult for a local business owner like you, why not consider getting some help from a trusted app?
Online reputation takes time to build. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much time to destroy it either. Buying Google reviews isn’t worth the short-term gains, because in the long term, it threatens to topple the business you have worked so hard to build.
Download Chalkboard and you could be collecting positive reviews by the end of the day!
A brief guide on the benefits of using an app to get more Google reviews and the fantastic features that such apps can offer