In recent months, there have been many incidents of companies being lambasted across the Internet when it was revealed that they had been paying for positive reviews. Several review websites have taken action to remove such fake reviews from their sites and in some cases, have even banned the company from participating again. Review websites aren’t the only place where this has been happening, however. And the strategy is being used more and more to supplement online reputation management issues.
Often companies have tried to pay for reviews on Google. Obviously, Google doesn’t have a review site, so when when we say pay for Google reviews, we really mean paying for keyword-optimized reviews that will show up in the Google search results or specific business reviews in Google Places. This practice has been very rewarding for businesses that indulge in it, as this is an excellent way to get exposure and traffic.
Competitors that don’t pay for reviews on Google have complained long and hard to the search engine giant, saying that its a way to manipulate search rankings unfairly. When you pay for Google reviews, they say, its deceptive both to the search engine and to the readers.
Does Google Allow Companies to Pay Others to Write Positive Reviews?
The only place in the Google guidelines where the question of can you pay people to write reviews comes up is in the Google Places guidelines. Since these are brick and mortar business, for the most part, Google sees these as real businesses. People are allowed to post reviews on these businesses, whether their feedback is positive or negative.
The Google Places guidelines come right out and state not to post fake reviews and not to trade cash or product for reviews. The guidelines are quite specific in stating that only honest, factual reviews that are unbiased are considered useful. They also state that if you pay for reviews on Google places and they find out, those reviews will be removed.
Can you pay people to write reviews? Yes, you can legally. That doesn’t mean that when you pay for reviews on Google Places that they will do you any good.
What are Google’s Rules for Reviews?
Google has simple rules for reviews on Google Places:
*Reviews cant contain illegal, plagiarized or copied content and must not violate Google’s content policy.
*No advertising, spam or fake reviews.
*No off-topic or secondhand reviews.
*No conflicts of interest such as reviewing your own business.
So can you pay people to write reviews? Not according to Google’s own policies.
How Can you Get a Review Removed from Google?
While there is no guarantee that a review will be removed, if you click the link next to any review that says Flag as inappropriate, you can send a report to Google. They will check the content for adherence to their policies. If they agree that it is inappropriate, they will remove that review from their listings.
What are Some Common PR Strategies to Get People to Write About You?
There are plenty of ways to get people to write about you, your business and your products without having to actually pay them to do so. One of the best ways is to get to know the movers and shakers within your niche. People like to write about people they know.
Find the lead bloggers names and addresses, if at all possible. Send them a little gift in the mail along with a press release or article about your business. You don’t have to send them one of your products, but a promotional item like a t-shirt or even a pen with your name on it makes a nice little gift.
Giving something, rather than asking them directly for a favor, triggers the human nature law of reciprocity. Someone who gets a free gift, no matter the actual value, is more likely to want to give something in return. This can lead to a lot of great publicity without you ever having to pay for reviews. Also, when people write on you in a positive way it means more social media followers and we all want that.