Need to Buy Reviews? You’ll Think Twice After Reading This.

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rying to buy reviews? There’s a better way to develop a positive online reputation for your business without the risks. Read on to learn more. 

Like most successful business owners, you see the value of online ratings. You’ve probably read a few yourself before making reservations at a restaurant or purchasing a new kitchen gadget.

It’s also likely you’ve chosen not to make certain investments based on negative ratings. If your online presence is poor or nonexistent, you may think paying for a few 5-star ratings could give you that extra bump you need to make more sales – right?

Unfortunately, if you buy reviews, all the long hours you’ve put into building a business could be at risk. The purpose of them is to develop trust between you and your potential customers. Eighty-five percent of consumers have an equal level of trust in online ratings as they do in personal recommendations from friends or family. When those customers realize you’ve payed for ratings, trust is broken, and there’s no easy way to repair that.

Here are some common questions business owners have about buying, obtaining and removing online reviews: 

All You Need to Know Before You Buy Reviews

All About Buying Google Reviews

All About Buying Yelp Reviews

All About Buying Facebook Reviews

How can I buy reviews?

You can have your company write fake feedback, offer customers incentives for them, or hire someone to compose them, but doing so might be more problematic than you think.

The consequences can include lawsuits, fines, and a lot of lost business. There are much better alternatives to improving your online reputation, which we’ll discuss in just a moment. If you’re still interested in understanding how each of the mentioned tactics would play out, read on:

Have your company write fake reviews

You can create profiles and write fake ratings of your own business, but tread carefully. Google, Facebook, and especially Yelp all have systems in place to prevent the very thing you’re trying to do. Those with long lists of praises and no complaints could raise a few red flags, meaning you’d have to include one or two negatives about your own business to make them seem real.

Offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews

Some business owners may not realize it, but offering gifts, gift cards or free merchandise in exchange for good ratings is considered buying them. You may even consider paying real customers cash for their contributions. While a few may slip by unnoticed as they are written by actual customers, several 5-star ratings posted all at once can signal to those platforms that you buy reviews.

Hire someone to compose fake reviews

Another tactic for obtaining positive ratings is to hire a third-party writer. Many of those willing to write cheap ratings are located outside of the United States, where people work for just dollars a day. This practice stands on or crosses the line between what’s ethical and what’s not, depending on who you are. You could end up losing customers for life, especially as the number of consumers who are ethically conscious of the businesses they purchase from increases.

So, can you buy reviews? You sure can, but that doesn’t mean you should, as it can harm your business’ reputation in the long run. Not to mention, the Federal Trade Commission can come after you with lawsuits and hefty fines.

There are many more effective ways to get solid, positive ratings of your business.

Where can I buy reviews?

You can find freelancers on platforms like Fiverr or Reddit who may be willing to write fake ones for you, but they don’t come cheap.

Reviewers like this one charge about $10 – $25 each. So, at the low end of that range, you could purchase two fake ratings for the same price as a software that provides real-life feedback from your customers (after a free trial, of course).

We get it: it’s hard to build a positive online reputation. It takes time and effort, which you may not feel like you have. We’re here to tell you there are better alternatives, like automating the process, that are much better for your business’ reputation than buying reviews.

How do you handle a bad review?

If you have one or more negative online ratings, you may think the answer is to buy reviews that are positive. What you’re missing is that negative ratings provide an incredible opportunity for you. Consumers who are looking online pay attention to negative ratings, and to how businesses respond to them.

Follow these steps to craft an effective response to negative feedback:

  1. Apologize. Are you at fault? Don’t be afraid to accept responsibility. If one has you riled up, take some space from it before responding. This is your chance to humbly address an unsatisfied customer and display your character to those potential customers reading your response.
  2. State the steps you’re taking to ensure better service in the future. Dissatisfied customers want to be heard more often than anything. Did they have a long wait? Did their product arrive defectively? Spell out what you are doing as a result of their feedback to improve these things.
  3. Take the conversation offline. Offer your contact information and let the customer know you’d love to hear more to create a better experience in the future. This is important to avoid further online conflict between you and a dissatisfied customer.

How do I get positive reviews online?

You can get positive ratings online by pre-screening your customers, sending follow-ups, sending requests often, automating the whole process, and by avoiding the temptation to buy reviews. Here’s why this process works.

  1. Pre-screen your customers, so only the most satisfied rate you online, while the negative feedback goes directly to you internally.
  2. Send follow-ups to customers. Some customers receive the initial email or SMS text message asking to leave feedback and intend to but simply forget. Send a follow-up, and that step alone can typically double the number you receive.
  3. Frequently send requests. Building a positive online presence is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to send out requests weekly at the very least, as you’ll get more ratings when your customer’s experience is still fresh in their minds.
  4. Automate the process. As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Manually emailing customers for ratings isn’t something you need to be doing. Check out this free trial which makes obtaining 5-star ratings simple and quick by utilizing all of the above best-practices.

Obtaining positive ratings is essential to your success, and if you buy reviews, you run the risk of hefty fines, legal action, and lost trust between your business and customers.

How can I avoid negative reviews online?

You can reduce the number of negative online ratings by making customer service a priority and asking for feedback on your terms, which might be easier than you think.

Here’s the thing: you can have the most incredible product, 5-star worthy service, and you’ll still have someone who finds a reason to dislike you. You can’t, and won’t, make everyone happy all the time. However, there are a few specific steps you can take to diminish the amount of negative feedback you receive:

  • Check those wait times. People hate to wait. Is there something you can do to reduce shipping time or wait times in your restaurant? Begin improving before customers have a reason to complain.
  • Keep customer service at the center. Ensure your employees are properly trained on effective customer service methods and reiterate often that it’s a core business value. Customers who have a positive experience with your employees are less likely to rant online, even if something went wrong with their purchase.
  • Ask for feedback on your terms. Often, customers head online to leave negative feedback because they don’t feel heard. Don’t wait for that to happen. Automatically ask for feedback in a way that directs negative feedback internally for your use.

Can you buy Google reviews?

Technically, you can buy reviews for Google, but it may result in detrimental lawsuits and fines, not to mention how it can stunt your business’ growth.

If you want to buy reviews for Google, you should first understand the risks involved. For one thing, there are significant legal consequences. You could wind up being sued like this company was for $250,000 after being caught buying reviews. That was in 2011, and yeah, we’re still talking about it. Did we mention how hard it is to get past a tarnished reputation?

Second, when you buy reviews, you are forgetting about a key player in your business: your real-life customers. You aren’t obtaining honest feedback from them and using it to improve processes or products, which is one of the reasons online feedback is valuable for you. There are much better ways to get Google reviews without risking current and potential customers.

Can you remove Google reviews?

It is possible to remove ratings that violate Google’s policies. Fake ones on Google have hurt small business’ reputations for years. Thankfully, Google does allow you to flag false or inappropriate feedback. If you do so, it will be submitted to Google, and they will determine if it violates their terms of use. If so, they will remove it on your behalf.

How do I report a fake Google review?

Here’s how you can flag a false or inappropriate Google review:

  1. Log in to your Google My Business account and click “Reviews” on the left-hand dashboard:

2. Click the three dots on the right side of the review you’d like to flag and select “Flag As Inappropriate:”

The rating has to fall into one of Google’s violations of terms for it to qualify to be flagged. These include:

  • Hateful, violent or inappropriate content
  • Advertising or spam
  • Off-topic (ratings not containing personal experience at or with your business)
  • Conflict of interest

You can’t flag just any negative feedback. Negative ratings can actually help your business if you respond appropriately, as discussed earlier on in this article.

Can Google detect fake reviews?

Truthfully, Google does not have the best automatic detection system for fake ratings left by people. Its software is geared more toward detecting spam and computer-generated content. That’s why it’s important to report any that violate Google’s terms.

This doesn’t mean you can easily get away with buying reviews to post on Google. If other people read one that appears suspicious, they can report it to Google as a conflict of interest.

What are the consequences if I’m caught buying Google reviews?

If you buy reviews for Google and are caught, Google can remove your business’ listing and eliminate your visibility on the platform.

So, instead of successfully obtaining a positive online presence, you’ll be cut and receive no new business from Google’s platform. You also risk the Federal Trade Commission coming after you. They’ve been known to charge substantial fines to businesses that buy or write their own online feedback.

Perhaps most importantly, your business does not grow as a result of fake ratings. You miss out on real-life feedback that can help you improve your processes, products and services. Whether positive or negative, feedback is powerful stuff that can help you build a better business and reach even more customers.

How can I improve my Google reviews?

Positive Google reviews impact more than customer buying decisions. They also influence local SEO ratings and they can reduce other marketing costs. You know they’re important, and you’re ready to improve them – so where do you start?

Google values these three attributes on its platform:

  1. Quality. You want a high average rating, usually one that exceeds 4-stars or your competitor’s rating.
  2. Quantity. You want to get a large number of high-star ratings, at least 20 or more than your competitor’s.
  3. Frequency. You want to ensure you are regularly receiving ratings. This is where it pays to automate the asking process and ensure you are following-up with customers who did not initially provide feedback.

For more in-depth information on how to get these kinds of ratings, take a look at the ultimate guide to Google reviews to further improve your presence on Google’s platform.

Can you buy Yelp reviews?

Technically, you can buy reviews for Yelp, but it’s at a significant cost – and we’re not just talking about the price of them.

Yelp has some of the strictest policies when it comes to fake ratings. Their false rating detection algorithm is so airtight, it’s been known to even filter out a few real reviewers. For Yelp, it’s worth that price to keep out the fake ones.

What are the consequences if I’m caught buying Yelp reviews?

Yelp has an average of 50 million visits each month. It takes its fake feedback very seriously, and Yelp will out your business if you buy reviews and post them. If there’s enough suspicious activity on your business page – and it doesn’t take much – Yelp will display this warning to your profile’ visitors:

Can you remove Yelp reviews?

Yelp does allow for the removal of ratings that violate their policies, which include:

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Those that do not focus on consumer experience
  • Those containing inappropriate material

So if you’ve been hit by a fake rating from a competitor, disgruntled employee, or good-old-fashioned internet troll, it is possible to have it removed.

How do I report a fake Yelp review?

It’s very simple to report fake Yelp feedback:

  1. Log in to your Yelp business account, and find the one you wish to report in the Reviews section.
  2. Click the three dots to the right of it and select “Report Review.”
  3. Yelp’s moderators will evaluate the content and you will receive an email with their decision.

How do I improve my Yelp reviews?

Yelp is arguably the most trusted review source on the internet, so a positive presence there is priceless. If you buy reviews for Yelp, chances are that you’ll  be caught, and you’ll have wasted money on fake ratings that will never be seen.

Here are a few ways you can improve your Yelp reviews:

  • Ask for a customer’s feedback only after he or she is satisfied. Timing is important. You don’t want to begin pre-screening if your customer is waiting for an email back from your customer service team.
  • Pre-screen your customers before sending them online. Pre-screening ensures Only your happiest customers are sent to Yelp to rate you online. Dissatisfied customers are given a platform to voice their concerns, and their feedback is directly internally so you can use it to improve your business. Interested? There’s a free trial you can use to make this happen automatically.
  • Provide them with a direct link to the site you want feedback on. Make it as easy on your customers as possible by providing them with a direct link. Learn how to create that direct link and get more information on obtaining 5-star reviews.

Do elite Yelpers get paid?

Elite Yelpers are not compensated for their elite-status. However, there are Yelp-organized parties the top Elites are invited to at no charge.

To become part of the elite Yelp squad, Yelpers have to have a history of well-written reviews, active “voting” and “complimenting” on the site, as well as a detailed personal profile. They also must nominate themselves each year to be re-evaluated and invited back to the elite squad.

Can you buy Facebook reviews?

Facebook reviews, now known as Facebook recommendations, work a bit differently from those on other platforms. Instead of asking users to rate an experience between one and five stars, they’re given the option to say “Yes, I recommend this place” or “No, I do not recommend this place.”

If you’re looking to buy reviews for Facebook, remember that Facebook was recently plagued by fake one-star ratings. As a result, they’re doing everything they can to maintain the integrity of their business – including cracking down on purchased reviews.

What are the consequences if I’m caught buying Facebook reviews?

Fake ratings are considered illegal content on Facebook, and the consequences reflect that. They’ll remove the fake ones, all recommendations of your business if they want, or your entire business’ page if it’s bad enough. You could end up with a business-ending lawsuit on your hands if you buy reviews for Facebook as it’s well within their rights to take legal action.

Can you remove a Facebook review?

Facebook will remove reported recommendations or content that violates their Community Standards. Like other platforms, Facebook won’t remove a recommendation just because someone does not recommend your business. There has to be another reason, like it contains spam, inappropriate material, or is unrelated to a consumer experience at your business.

How do I report a fake Facebook review?

If you’ve been hit with hateful speech or a rating unrelated to your business, follow these steps to have it evaluated:

  1. Go to your business’ page and click “Reviews” on the left-hand tab.
  2. Find the one that you want to report.
  3. Click the three dots on the right-hand of the it, and select “Report Post.”
  4. Facebook will evaluate your report and make a final decision about the post.

How can I improve my Facebook reviews?

There are a few simple ways you can improve your rating on Facebook:

  1. Focus on customer service. People appreciate sincere, helpful answers to their questions, and they’ll go out of their way to mention a better-than-expected customer service experience.
  2. Be responsive. When you have a Facebook business page, potential customers have the ability to send you messages. If you can’t commit to responding to messages 24/7, setup a thoughtfully worded automatic reply letting your customer know you will respond during regular business hours.
  3. Pre-screen your customers so only the most satisfied provide you with feedback online. We know you don’t have time to sit and compile a list of your happiest customers. You can direct your most satisfied customers to review you online, while directing unsatisfied customers to provide feedback that your business receives internally. You get the best of both worlds: top ratings and feedback to help you improve your business.