Recent statistics showed that Google processes about 81%-91% of all internet searches globally. This staggering figure alone is enough reason to want to get as many positive reviews as possible for your business onto the platform.
Google reviews are becoming more important for business success, especially for local businesses, as that all important star rating is the very first thing customers are going to see when they search for a product or a service. There you are for all the world to see, listed out and ranked against your competitors, and if you’ve suffered a few bad reviews, then you’re likely to get instantly dismissed.
Google themselves have also said that businesses that have a lot of good quality reviews and respond regularly to customers will rank higher in search engine results.
So, if getting Google reviews is so important, should you ever risk buying them to boost your numbers? The short answer? No. Definitely no. And just in case we weren’t clear, no, don’t buy Google reviews!
Below, we’ll run you through three reasons you should never buy Google reviews and give you some warnings on some of the risks you could be leaving yourself open to if you do.
3 Reasons why you should never buy Google reviews
1. They lack authenticity
Fake reviews are usually very easy to spot. Bought and paid for reviews are usually immediately suspicious by the type of language they use. Those disreputable companies selling reviews online will often work from a template, allowing them to copy and paste thousands of reviews in a day in an effort to maximise their own profits.
These templates will often be stuffed with keywords or slots to add the company’s name multiple times in an effort to improve the ranking. However, they’ll read in a very insincere way, often talking very generically about the product, giving no real reason as to why they’ve chosen to award the business five stars.
Clicking through to their reviewer profile can also help shine a light on how inauthentic they are, they’ll likely have hundreds of reviews against their name, many often posted on the same day. Or conversely, that profile may just have a single review against it as the user will make a fresh account for each one.
Or if you’ve “paid” for reviews by offering incentives to customers, e.g. money off a product in exchange for the review, there’s a chance the customer mentions this in the review itself, making your company look very insincere. Even if they genuinely loved the product, no one will believe them if they see an incentive was offered.
- Normal customers can spot these reviews a mile away and it will immediately feel like a breach of trust. If you have dozens of obviously fake reviews, customers won’t have any faith in you or your product and move on.
- It has the opposite effect of “social proof”, instead of encouraging more people to use your services you end up driving more people away.
You’ll never learn your strengths and weaknesses
Paying for reviews is like living with your head in the sand, a refusal to acknowledge weaknesses or play to your strengths. In fact, businesses need more honest feedback not less as this is the only way they can implement genuine improvements.
- The reviews become meaningless. You never improve your product or services which hurts you more in the long run, you’re essentially throwing money away.
- You may never resolve issues or pain points. By drowning out the genuine feedback with dozens or hundreds of paid for positive reviews you’ll remain ignorant of the areas you need to fix.
3. Its a legal minefield and also against Google’s policies
Paying outright for reviews can come very close to being illegal in a lot of countries. In both the UK and the USA, misrepresenting your business, or claiming it’s something that it isn’t, is illegal and paid for reviews skirt dangerously close to the edge of this definition.
In addition, paying for reviews is in violation of Google’s own policies. They state that while it’s OK to solicit (authentic) reviews from customers, it’s a definite violation of the terms of service to start paying for reviews.
This also applies the other way too, for example if you decide to badmouth your competition and pay to have them bombarded with one star reviews to make yourself look good. There’ll be consequences if you’re caught.
- You could face civil fines from trade commissions in your country, and even criminal proceedings in some cases.
- Google can choose to remove reviews if they find them to be fake or paid for. Google doesn’t take kindly to those who violate its policies and you can definitely expect your rankings to suffer if they find out you’re being dishonest.
So how do you get more Google reviews naturally?
So, we now understand that getting genuine and authentic feedback is the route you should be taking with Google reviews, and we’ve gone into more detail here telling you why and how this works, but it can sometimes be very difficult to get customers to actually leave a review.
Your customers have a lot of other things vying for their attention during the day and they might not be motivated to leave a review. Below we’ve outlined some tips to help you boost those numbers.
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1. Just ask them to leave a review
That’s right. It really is this simple. Businesses that ask their customers to leave a review tend to have more feedback than their competitors and generally have higher ratings. You of course have to ask in the right way, get the timing right and not be pushy though.
- If your interaction with a customer is face to face – Ask them directly after their purchase if they’d be happy to leave a review when they get home. Offer them a flyer or business card with instructions on how to do it.
- If the purchase was online – Follow up afterwards by email. Depending on the type of product you may want to wait a couple of weeks to give them time to use and experience the product.
It’s OK to follow up with a second or potentially third message requesting the review too, but any more than this and you’ll probably come off as pushy. Always remember to be very polite and respectful in your correspondence and to personalize it to that customer too.
Try searching through your social media mentions to see if anyone has been talking about you too. If anyone has been singing your praises recently it might be worth reaching out to them via a direct message and asking if they’d be happy to share their experience on Google.
2. Make it simple for the customer to complete
Thankfully, Google has helped to make the review process very simple to follow by letting you generate your own URL that links directly to your review page. Follow Google’s instructions here and simply add the link to any emails or texts you send out and onto any printed materials where you’re asking for reviews.
Try adding the review link in your email signature on your normal day to day correspondence too. You never know who might respond to a quick call to action at the end of an email.
3. Let customers leave reviews via your website
Staying with the theme of making things easy, add a link to Google reviews on your homepage. This way any visitors should be able to see a clear box they’ll be able to click through to leave a review. This is less direct than asking customers individually, but can really help up your reviews if you get a lot of traffic via your website.
4. Respond to your reviews
When your business has popped up in a Google search we already know you’ll rank higher if you’ve responded to the reviews and have shown to Google you engage with your customer base. However, it can also encourage others to leave reviews too.
When customers see you’re regularly corresponding and talking to other customers, they’ll be more likely to leave a review themselves. People like to feel listened to and reviewers expect a response to feedback these days (both positive and negative) so get engaging with your customers to boost those reviews.
Remember, never underestimate the power of good quality, authentic reviews and you can check out these statistics here if you don’t believe us! And most importantly of all, never, ever, pay for your Google reviews, it’ll end up costing you far more in the long run.