In today’s digital age, online reviews can make or break a business. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses, and 87% do so on Google. You need to have a good rating in order to attract new customers. The same survey says that 38% of people consider a business only if it has an average rating of 4 stars or higher. This is why many businesses try to get positive reviews by any means necessary, including buying online reviews. There are different providers out there that engage in this practice. Although it seems to be a quick and harmless solution to help gain new customers and improve your online presence, buying online reviews is a bad idea.
Why you should not buy online reviews
1. It’s unethical
Buying online reviews is unethical because it’s essentially lying to potential customers. Online reviews are supposed to be written by real customers who have used the product or service. If a business buys fake reviews, they’re misleading potential customers, which is not only dishonest but can also lead to customer dissatisfaction.
2. It violates the guidelines of review platforms
Google has strict policies about which content can be published on its services. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, it will be removed from the platform. In particular, it concerns fake engagement. The contribution should be based on a real experience. Paying, incentivizing or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience is not allowed.
Facebook has Community Standards that define what is or is not allowed on Facebook. “Account integrity and authentic identity” is one of these requirements. Accounts that violate the Community Standards may be restricted or removed.
Tripadvisor also has specific posting guidelines for reviews according to which a review should reflect a traveler’s personal experience. According to Tripadvisor’s Review Transparency Report, 4.4% of total review submissions, that is 1.3 million reviews, were determined to be fake or fraudulent. Their detection and moderation processes prevent the submission of fake content, besides, they take other actions against offending businesses, including content bans, ranking penalties, and red badges. In 2022, Tripadvisor applied a ranking penalty to more than 33’000 businesses for fraud and issued 341 red badge warnings.
3. It’s illegal
Buying online reviews is illegal in many countries. In the United States, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict guidelines about online reviews. Businesses are required to disclose any financial or other incentives they give to customers in exchange for reviews. Failure to do so can result in fines or legal action.
The FTC has published useful guides concerning use of endorsement and testimonials. It is recommended to read them if you consider buying online reviews.
4. It can damage your reputation
If you get caught buying online reviews, it can seriously damage your reputation. Customers are savvy, and they can often tell when reviews are fake. We have covered the topic of how to distinguish fake reviews from real ones in our article “Tackling a Problem of Fake Online Reviews”.
If customers discover that a business has bought reviews, they’re likely to lose trust in that business and go elsewhere. As mentioned earlier, online review platforms like Google and Tripadvisor have algorithms that can detect fake reviews and remove them. If a business is caught buying reviews, they may be penalized by these platforms, which can hurt their visibility and traffic.
5. It’s a waste of money
Buying online reviews is also a waste of money. Consumers are more likely to trust businesses with a mix of positive and negative reviews rather than only positive ones. Besides, if you buy online reviews, you won’t learn the real feedback from your customers. Negative feedback may reveal some issues you are not aware of and help you improve your business operations.
Instead of buying reviews, businesses should focus on providing a quality product or service and encouraging genuine reviews from happy customers.
How to get online reviews instead of buying
If you are looking to get more online reviews, there are a few steps you can do instead of buying them.
First of all, you should reach out to customers and ask them to leave a review. Doing so manually takes a lot of time, is hard to scale, and may be inconsistent. That is why it is recommended to automate the process and have a system in place to request reviews. IWantTo.Review is an easy-to-use solution designed exactly for this purpose. You can create your own ultra-fast landing page to request reviews, share it with your guests, and let it do its magic.
Furthermore, embed reviews on your website to show potential customers that you are a business they can trust. re:spondelligent customers can benefit from re:Score widgets. It has proved to improve the conversion rate.
In conclusion, we strongly believe businesses should not buy fake reviews, as it is unethical, illegal, can damage their reputation, and is a waste of money. Instead, businesses should focus on providing a quality product or service and encouraging genuine reviews from happy customers.
Do you want to generate more positive reviews?
IWantTo.Review is a smart and customizable review-requesting solution that will help you reach your goals