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5 reasons you shouldn’t buy Google reviews

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by Jennifer Bridges  @JenBridgesRD

Yellow warning sign on a fence stating : Warning, Fake reviews spotted.

This post has been modified to reflect new information since its original publication.

When you cheat and cut corners, anything you build will eventually fall to pieces—like that game of Jenga that goes on for too long. So, you can understand why we urge you to find better ways to get reviews.

We get it; reviews are important. In a moment, we’ll talk about how important. We’ll also show you what not to do and why. Then, we’ll go over some best practices to help you get glowing reviews organically.

The influence of consumer behavior on purchase decisions

Consumer behavior plays a crucial role in purchase decisions.

Social influence, such as referrals from friends or family, and recommendations from influencers or celebrities can heavily impact consumer choices.

For example, in the beauty industry, being endorsed by a popular influencer can significantly increase a product’s sales.

With more and more consumers researching businesses online before making a purchase, you’ll have a hard time inspiring trust if don’t have enough genuine reviews.

You need to show your visitors you have enough positive feedback for them to buy from you.

But why?

How positive reviews can impact a company’s reputation and success

In the age of online shopping and digital word-of-mouth, positive reviews can make or break a business. When customers share their positive experiences with a company’s products or services, it can build trust and credibility.

Positive reviews can also boost a company’s search engine optimization results and visibility, attracting more customers and increasing sales, because the search algorithm finds your brand more favorable.

Moreover, a strong collection of positive reviews can differentiate a company from its competitors, showcasing its commitment to customer satisfaction and quality. Ultimately, positive reviews can shape the perception of a company, and today, more than ever, perception matters.

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That’s why people attempt to improve their business’s online reputation by resorting to tactics like hiring people to write fake customer reviews or offering customers rewards in exchange for positive ratings—especially on the top online review platform, Google.

However, buying fake Google reviews or luring people into a “you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours” is a bad idea. But before we get into the five main reasons, let’s go over one more key thing overlooked by many online business owners.

Building trust with potential customers through unbiased feedback

Collecting unbiased customer feedback is crucial for building trust with potential customers.

Remember the saying, “It’s too good to be true”? Well, A company with zero character-building reviews triggers the BS meter too.

Genuine feedback helps to establish credibility and trustworthiness, as it demonstrates transparency and authenticity.

When potential customers read real testimonials and reviews from previous customers who not only praise you but suggest things you can improve, they can see first-hand that you’re involved with your audience. This means they might be more likely to trust your business and feel confident in their decision to engage with you.

By utilizing unbiased feedback, your business can build a strong foundation of trust with potential customers, ultimately leading to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction. This transparent approach not only fosters a positive reputation, but it also reinforces the credibility and authenticity of the business.

Now, let’s look at what fraudulent reviews get you compared to high-quality reviews.

1. The FTC might fine you

One of the best reasons not to buy Google reviews for business is that fake reviews are prohibited under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45) (PDF).

The FTC considers fake reviews and testimonials to be false or deceptive advertising, which is not allowed for several reasons. They are not real users. The false positive impression they create can cause consumers to pay for services they don’t need or that don’t work as advertised.

Put another way:

  • The reviews aren’t based on actual customer experiences.
  • They mislead consumers because the content of the review is false.
  • They encourage people to buy something they otherwise wouldn’t, which financially defrauds the customer.

Incentivized reviews can also violate the FTC’s guidelines unless the company or individual giving the review or testimonial clearly states that he or she has received compensation or another form of incentive for providing the review and that the review is true and accurate. In addition to staying on the right side of the FTC, being transparent about incentivized reviews can show people you’re honest about your business’s reputation.

The FTC is serious about allegations of consumer fraud. If the organization catches you buying or incentivizing reviews without specifying that you are doing so, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. In 2019, the FTC fined a business $12.8 million for purchasing fake reviews.

Are online reviews hurting your business? We can help. Schedule a free consultation

Genuine customer feedback doesn’t cost a thing and can turn the tables, providing you with a lifetime of income increases.

The information in this article is provided for informational purposes and should not be considered to be legal advice. Also, the information provided is based on U.S. laws and may vary by country. Please consult your attorney for guidance on legal issues with respect to online reviews.

2. Incentivized reviews may make you less credible

If you offer people a benefit, like a discount, in exchange for a review, then they are legally required to disclose this fact in their review. However, potential customers might consider incentivized reviews as being “bought” and therefore not trustworthy. This, of course, can make your business less credible, which can lead to fewer customers and less revenue.

3. People will notice your reviews are fake

Half of people reported seeing a fake Google review in 2022. This means that consumers know how to spot a fake review. Isn’t that incredible? Happy customers know what other real customers sound like, even when reading online.

Some dead giveaways of fake reviews include:

  • The reviewer isn’t active on Google Maps
  • The vast majority of the person’s reviews are negative
  • The reviewer focuses on a single industry (because he or she is targeting competitors)
  • The reviewer posts multiple reviews at the same time
  • Duplicate reviews from different accounts
  • Reviews that contain few or no concrete details

Source: webcontent.com

There are also several apps online shoppers can use to identify fake reviews.

These tools look for common red flags (like the ones mentioned above) that don’t often appear in authentic reviews. This is just one more tool fighting to help customers find the helpful platform they need instead of getting taken advantage of.

Another problem with stacking the deck with positive reviews is that doing so makes all your reviews look suspicious. In fact, people often suspect your reviews are fake or that you’re censoring bad reviews if they don’t see any bad ratings.

Because your attempt to skew your ratings will be obvious to potential customers, you are much better off avoiding fake reviews. Showcasing all your reviews—the bad alongside the good—proves you aren’t hiding anything or trying to deceive anyone.

4. You will lose valuable feedback about your business

One often-overlooked consequence of spamming your business profile with fake reviews is not getting to read your customers’ honest feedback.

For example, your business might have problems that you aren’t aware of—but you’ll never learn about them if you discourage negative reviews. The secret to becoming a reliable platform people can trust is having an honest dialogue with your audience.

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Think of negative reviews as free usability testing for your business processes. How will you know what’s working and what’s not if you don’t solicit negative reviews along with the positive?

Imagine this scenario: your company has garnered nine negative reviews in the past quarter, and six of them describe your website as being hard to navigate. After reading the reviews, you have solid data about how to fix a problem that is turning away customers.

Getting legit reviews helps you improve services that are not meeting the standards required for success.

5. Google will delete your reviews

Google specifically prohibits fake reviews.

“Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Don’t post fake content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don’t post content for the same place from multiple accounts.”

Moreover, Google states that if your business profile features fake reviews, it will remove them from your profile.

“Reviews are automatically processed to detect inappropriate content like fake reviews and spam. We may take down reviews that are flagged in order to comply with Google policies or legal obligations.”

An example of Google doing so is when it removed all but one of a Kentucky law firm’s reviews for offering family zoo passes in exchange for reviews. Classic.

The right way to earn more Google reviews

  • Ask for feedback immediately after a transactionNearly 70% of people will leave a review when asked. So, don’t be shy about asking, whether you are interacting online or face to face. Active users of your services will most likely be proud to.
  • Make it easy for people to review you—Be sure to use the Google Review Link Generator to get your custom link. This way, customers don’t have to track down your Google business listing to leave a review. You can post this link on your social media accounts, your website, and on signs in your store, if you run a brick-and-mortar business. You could also enclose a note or sticker asking for a Google review when you ship your product.
  • Automate the process—A smart way to ensure you’re reaching out to all your customers is to automate the process. Our online reviews solution, for example, sends out review requests via email, text message, or a special iOS/Android kiosk. You can also get more consumer perceptions and five-star reviews on autopilot with software like Birdeye or our online review services.
  • Respond to all your reviewsResponding to all reviews is a great opportunity to engage with your customers. Doing so shows that you care what your customers think, which encourages others to write reviews.
  • Address customer pain points—Of course, the best way to garner more positive reviews is to thoroughly wow customers in every interaction they have with your business. To do so, you need to identify and solve their issues and make customer satisfaction part of your company’s culture.

We know reviews. If you have some bad ones you want to overshadow with better content and organic 5-star reviews, we can help.

If you’re not sure about how you’re perceived online, there’s an easy way to find out. Just grab your free reputation report card and instantly see what everyone else sees when they search for you online.

If you have any questions about how to get more positive reviews for your business, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are happy to offer free consultations.