If you’re thinking about paying for positive Google Reviews, think twice.
Technically it is illegal, and if caught soliciting “undisclosed paid endorsements” you risk more than a damaged reputation.
In this article, I’ll cover the reasons not to pay for reviews, and ways you can get positive reviews organically!
Why Would You Consider to Pay for Google Reviews?
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. This 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 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 for Google 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. This does not mean you can’t reward customers for leaving a review, however, it can only be done after the fact and with no expectation of occurring before the review has been left.
The Impact of Paying for Google Reviews on SEO
Not only will your paid-for reviews be removed by Google when they are found but if discovered Google’s algorithm will penalize your SEO traffic drastically as well. It is extremely risky to buy Google reviews as it is quite possible that a future algorithm update will, not only, remove your paid for reviews but inhibit your business’s ability to rank in organic search results. For this reason, it is not worth the risk and your business should focus on honest ways to get customers to leave reviews. Further, you run the risk of a customer mentioning the incentive in the review which would defeat the purpose altogether.
Can You Pay People to Write Reviews?
No, it is illegal to buy Google reviews according to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the reviewer doesn’t disclose that they were paid to leave a review the FTC will consider that an undisclosed paid endorsement and can fine you exorbitant fees for this. This includes third party companies who offer to write reviews for business at a price or for real customers to be incentivized.
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.
How to Get Unpaid Google Reviews
There are some excellent ways for you to legally ans safely get customers to review your business without paying for it. There are a few key actions you can live by to maximize customer reviews:
Reach out to your customers directly after the transaction or service has been done. This makes sure the experience is fresh in their mind and they will be more likely to write a review and a positive one, at that.
Send a follow up email or text with a link rather than asking in person. This keeps your interactions positive and does not put any uncomfortable pressure on your customer. The message should be clear, ask nicely, and provide a link directly to where the review should be left to make it as easy and not time consuming as possible. The email should be short and as personal as possible so they don’t feel like its a generic bulk email.
Don’t give up after one outreach. Make sure to follow up once a week for three weeks to reduce the change of your email being lost in someone’s inbox. You can use an automated email service as the more reviews you get the more customers you will have in the future. This provides you with a good ROI and is a better way to spend money than taking the risk of paying for reviews directly.
1.Can I pay people and customers to write positive reviews on Google?
Technically, no. It is illegal to buy Google reviews and the consequences could be dire if caught, including risking fines of $10,000 or more.
According to the FTC, it is forbidden to feature “undisclosed paid endorsements,” which means that if people are leaving reviews that you’ve paid them to leave, but fail to disclose that their review is a paid endorsement, then it is illegal.
2. How do I get more positive reviews on Google?
There are plenty of risk-free, legal ways to get more reviews on Google. One of the simplest ways is to ask your customers or clients to leave a review if they are satisfied!
Sending personalized follow-up emails could also lead to more positive reviews. Establishing a relationship with those who have purchased from you, goes a long way. Thanking customers in an email and expressing appreciation for any feedback is a great way to entice them to leave great reviews!
Finally, leaving a custom Google review link to your websites makes it easier for happy customers or clients to go and leave a review.