Pay Per Click Advertising

Faking Reviews Can Get A Business In Trouble With The Law

Reviews On Google Listings The Power Of Client Reviews

Are you a business owner that doesn’t do much advertising? Maybe you rely on a ‘word of mouth’ method? If so, be sure and leverage the raw power of customer reviews. Do it not only to demonstrate a local presence in a way that mimics good old ‘word of mouth’, but because search engines like Google will reward it!

For example, what could be better for business than a prospective client seeing others singing your praise out in the open? 80% of consumers say they research a business, product or brand online before purchasing. 90% say online reviews influence their buying decisions. So go to Google.com and type in the name of your business plus town & state. It’s likely results will include your ‘Google Listing’ on the right sidebar, including if you haven’t created one. If not already, you can get control of it by verifying your Google ListingAnd by the way, ‘Google Listing’ reviews play a significant role in local search engine rankings (i.e. 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!

However Faking Reviews Qualifies As ‘False Advertising’ By Law

There’s one small catch with reviews and that is they should be real! Reviews should come from people who have actually visited the business, used the product or experienced the service. A business owner may consider paying someone to generate false reviews and there are certainly companies offering to generate them; however, business owner be aware that other business owners have been prosecuted for it. September 2013 NY Attorney General Schneiderman announced that 19 companies, some local businesses and some SEO and/or marketing firms, would pay fines of up to $350,000 for their role in soliciting and writing fake online reviews. It’s known as ‘Astroturfing’, and it qualifies under the law as false advertising! Here’s part of what Schneiderman had to say in a 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 and necessary for any business (small or large) that the act of writing or having fake reviews written for a company resulted in legal action. In fact, it culminated in multiple companies paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.


How Can Your Business Get More Good Reviews?

If you’re going to stand by the trusted word of mouth advertising strategy- you may still need to get into the digital age. To do so develop and execute a plan that targets satisfied customers and asks them to write a review for your business online. Here are some tips:

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 do not hesitate to ask.

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 off- website listing citations and more. If you need help with a plan give us a call at 732-722-5915.


About Kinetic Knowledge

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