The Wrong Way to Get Online Reviews for Your Business

Oct 28, 2014

Online customer reviews are the new word of mouth advertising, and can have a tremendous impact on your business. Like old-school word of mouth advertising, online reviews are one of the most effective and least costly methods of driving new customers to your business.

wrong way to get online business reviews

  • Research has found that 85 percent of consumers read online reviews about local businesses before making a decision on which company they will do business with.
  • Of those consumers who read online reviews, 79 percent trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.
  • A Harvard Business School study concluded that a one-star increase in favorable ratings can increase sales by 5 to 9 percent.
  • One negative online review can cost the average business a loss of 30 customers.

Never Fake It Till You Make It
Never allow fake reviews to be written and posted for your business. Even though a well written fake review might pass muster with a human, today’s software is 90 percent effective in detecting fake reviews. Search engines, review sites, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) all have very specific guidelines in place that govern the use of customer reviews.

Any company found posting faked reviews will have its reviews removed, along with a possible loss of search rankings. Some review sites may even insert a notice in the offending company’s listing that alerts readers to the fact that the company has been posting faked reviews. If the FTC gets involved, legal expenses alone may shut the business down for good.

Steer Clear of Using Fake Accounts
Most search engines and review websites require reviews to be posted from a real-person user account. This means that the registered user is the only person who is authorized to write and post a review from that account. Even a legitimate review from a real customer that is posted using a fake account is considered fraudulent and can land you in trouble.

If you have customer reviews that were sent directly to your company, you can safely share them on your social media sites such as Google Plus and Facebook as well as in your emails and on your website or blog.

Don’t Offer Incentives for Reviews
Never offer outright payment, discounts, upgrades, or any other form of special treatment in exchange for a review unless you include a notice that the reviewer received compensation for the review. You are allowed to offer your customers various types of perks as long as you’re not offering them in exchange for a review. Your employees can be rewarded for asking customers to write reviews provided the customer receives no compensation.

Don’t Ask Customers to Write a Review Using Your Computer
While it might be convenient to have customers post their reviews from your place of business, multiple reviews posted from the same IP address gives the appearance that the reviews might have been faked and will probably earn your business a penalty.

Avoid Duplicate Reviews
Like duplicate content, posting duplicate reviews to multiple search engines and review sites is not a good idea. Each review must be exclusive to one search engine or review site only. The only exception is for reviews that your company has received directly from a customer that have not appeared in any search listing or on any review site. These reviews may be posted to any of your web properties or included in your emails.