is-facebook needed by local business

Customer Reviews Matter, But Faking Reviews Can Get You In Trouble With The Law

Reviews On Google Plus LocalWhat Kind Of Digital Advertising Do You Pursue? 

Are you a business owner that doesn’t do too much advertising? Maybe you rely on the ‘word of mouth’ method? If so, a growing number of businesses are turning to the raw power of customer reviews. It’s not only to demonstrate their local presence in a way that mimics good old ‘word of mouth’, but search engines like Google will reward it! For example, what could be better for business than a prospective client seeing other happy business owners singing your praise out in the open? Right!? If you agree – do us a favor: go to and type in the name of your business plus town & state. It’s likely you will be able to pull up your Google local listing on the right sidebar, even if you haven’t done a thing to locally verify and competitively optimize it. Now look at how many reviews there are for your business?

80% of consumers say they research a business, product or brand online FIRST, before purchasing; however,  90% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. So 80% of consumers are looking for businesses just like yours online AND 90% of them are including your online reviews in their decision about buying from you. Google reviews also play a significant role in your local search engine rankings (website content ranks better when reviews reinforce the brand). Folks, if you’re not set up to ask for good client reviews you are missing a huge opportunity!

Faking Reviews Qualify By Law As ‘False Advertising’ 

There’s one small catch: your Google reviews have to be real and genuine. They must come from real customers who have frequented your business or experienced your product or service. You cannot pay people to write fake reviews for your business online, although you will find companies out there offering to do just that. Companies have done this before, and are now paying the price. NY Attorney General Schneiderman just announced that 19 companies, some local businesses and some SEO and/or marketing firms, that will pay fines of up to $350,000 for their role in soliciting and writing fake online reviews. It’s also known as ‘Astroturfing’, and it qualifies under the law as false advertising! Here’s part of what Schneiderman had to say in a recent press release:

“Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing. This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution. And companies that continue to engage in these practices should take note: “Astroturfing” is the 21st century’s version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it.”

Online reviews are deemed so powerful, so necessary for any business small or large, that the act of writing or having fake reviews written for a company resulted in legal action and culminated in multiple companies paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

How Do You Manage Getting Good Reviews?

If you’re going to stick with your trusted word of mouth advertising strategy- you must get into the digital age.  Develop and execute a plan that targets your satisfied customers and asks them to write reviews for your business online. Here are some tips to do that:

1)     Create an email template to send to a satisfied client after they leave your business.  The template should thank them for their patronage and ask them to leave an online review.

2)     Make it easy for them. Set up a reviews page, from it provide a direct link to your Google+ local account where they can easily leave the review. Don’t expect people to fish around online trying to find it. If you don’t know how to find it, ask us.

3)     Develop a way to follow up with customers to see if they leave a review or send a gentle reminder to do so. Consider creating a spreadsheet to help you track this. Again, if you need help with that, ask us.

4)     Set a goal for yourself to obtain a certain amount of reviews each month. You can track this in the spreadsheet.

5)     And don’t forget, there are a series of other Local SEO factors that (combined with good Reviews) can really make things explode for your business!

Online reviews musts become a component of your local SEO strategy along with locally targeted content development, social media management, consistent listing citations and more. If you would like help putting together ideas for setup and a monthly plan for your locally targeted online success, give us a call at 732-722-5915 for an overview of your website’s content, a plan for gathering great reviews, a look at how citations are seen by the search engines and all the local SEO elements that matter.

About Kinetic Knowledge

Based in Monmouth County, NJ, Kinetic Knowledge is a full service digital marketing agency offering custom website design, SEO / Local SEO, social media management, ghost writing, graphic design, print advertising design, e-commerce and custom app solutions. Visit us online at