The short answer to this question is no, it is prohibited. If Google finds out you are doing it, it can harm your business with huge fines of up to $10,000. It is really not advisable to pay people to write reviews on Google because it is illegal and unethical. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) it is illegal to pay people for Google reviews without disclosure of payment.
If Google discovers that you have paid for reviews, not only will they fine you and remove your reviews, they also will penalize your SEO traffic. The FTC considers a review by a customer in which they receive no payment an endorsement. A review by a customer that is paid and disclosed that it is paid is considered a paid endorsement. While a review by a customer that is paid and not stated is considered an undisclosed paid endorsement, which is not allowed. That is why it is important to understand the technicalities of paid reviews on Google. In this article, we will detail the dangers of paying for Google reviews and what you should do instead.
Why Would You Want to Pay for Google Reviews?
In terms of SEO, organic reviews that speak positively of your business help improve your rankings online. Maybe your business thinks it is worth it to shell out some money for reviews on Google since it can help boost rankings online. That may help out in the short run, but when Google discovers you have been paying for reviews, they will strike you down. If you have good reviews online, it could help your website’s reputation. However, if these reviews are fake – it could irreparably damage your business. So while it may appear rewarding to pay for Google reviews because of the quick SEO improvement and boost in rankings it provides, in the end it can truly harm your business.
Why You Should Not Pay for Reviews on Google
The first and foremost reason you should not buy Google reviews is that it is illegal. If Google finds out that your reviews are paid for, they will remove them. The other important reason you should not pay people for reviews is that it can negatively impact your website’s SEO and damage your company’s reputation. This will prevent your business from ranking organically in search results. This hurts future opportunities to reach potential customers. There is little payoff in paying for fake reviews when it is relatively simple to earn reviews from satisfied customers. You risk damage to your website’s reputation, financial losses from huge fines, and a drop in SEO.
The most likely thing is that if Google discovers your business pays for reviews, they will remove them and possibly negatively impact your SEO rankings. A future Google algorithm update could remove your paid-for reviews as well as your website’s ability to show up on searches. Essentially, your business should not pay for Google reviews because it is not worth the risk in fines, SEO losses, and removal of paid reviews. These reasons demonstrate why it is not worth it to pay for reviews on Google. It is instead advisable to seek legitimate means to get natural reviews.
What are the Rules for Reviews on Google?
The rules for reviews on Google are relatively simple and mostly involve honesty and legitimacy. This is important for Google to monitor businesses and websites for integrity so users trust them.
- Reviews must not possess illegal, plagiarized, or copied content that violates Google’s policy
- Businesses cannot advertise, spam, or have fake reviews.
- Reviews must remain on-topic and be first-hand experiences.
- You cannot review your own business because that is a conflict of interest.
Basically, these rules from Google establish the basis that you cannot pay for people to review your business on Google.
How to Get More Positive Reviews on Google and Less Negative Ones
A low-ranking 1-star review can negatively impact your star average even if you have a high volume of 5-star reviews. The first thing your business can do when trying to get more positive reviews on Google is to pre-screen your customers. To do this, you should privately ask customers how they would rate your product, service, and/or experience. If a customer rates your business highly, then thank them and kindly ask them to leave a review for you. This is a legal method to gather positive reviews without risking hefty fines from the FTC or a drop in SEO rankings.
If a customer reports back to you with a lower review, once again thank them for their time and ask them for suggestions on how to improve your business. This allows for an unsatisfied customer to feel seen and heard with the possibility of coming back for repeat business that leads to a more positive experience. The feedback from customers who rated your business poorly can help it improve overall and allow you to cultivate more business and happy customers. There are tools available that can automate this pre-screening service in order to save you business time and money. The pre-screen for happy customers will take them to a page where they can leave a review directly. Meanwhile, the pre-screen for unhappy customers will take them to a private page for improvements.
Is There a Way to Get a Review Removed on Google?
The only way you can get a review removed on Google is if it violates their policies. However, if you simply do not like a review because it makes your business look bad, you cannot remove it. If you believe a review does not follow Google’s rules, there is an option to flag it as inappropriate. In the case that Google does agree that the review is inappropriate, they will remove the post.
How to Get Unpaid Reviews on Google
There are a few ways to get organic reviews on Google that involve approved and legitimate methods. These tactics will ensure your business does not end up with fines up to $10,000 from the FTC and keep your rankings up.
Ask Close to Purchase Date
People are more likely to write a review closer to the date of a purchase or receival of a service. It is important as a business to follow up on customers and their satisfaction after they have bought a product or undergone a service. A follow-up message to customers is more likely to elicit a response and a review because it will remind them of your business and their experience. The interaction and involvement a customer had with your company will be fresh in their mind so they can write a more meaningful review. The timing of your follow-up is significant because you will get a better response rate the sooner you reach out to customers. Otherwise, the experience with your business will fade and emotions will not be as strong.
Ask Via Text or Email
Another tip to get unpaid Google reviews is to ask customers over text or email rather than in person. When you reach out digitally, it removes some of the pressure or awkwardness that could occur in person. It also gives the customer room and time to respond and write the review on their own schedule. Over email or text, you can provide a link directly to where you want your customer to write a review which makes it more convenient for them. If a customer has to hunt for where they should leave a review, they most likely will get frustrated and stop the process. The quicker and easier it is for a customer to review your business, the more likely you will get one and a more positive review at that. The message you send to customers about leaving a review should be polite, friendly, and clear to instigate the best possible responses. These messages should also be quite personalized. This is because users are less likely to respond to mass messages.
Send Follow Up Messages
Even if the above two tactics do not work at first, it is important to send follow-up messages at least two to three more times over the next few weeks. This helps increase your conversion rates and reminds your customers to review your business. You can also use an automation system to send these follow-up messages out to improve efficiency and save time and money. It can be time-consuming to individually send out follow-up messages to customers and automation systems can reach so many more. The messages and emails themselves should focus on the customer, their experience, and their needs rather than your desire for them to write a great review. The main purpose of the message should get to the point of the customer leaving a review for your business. Always make sure you focus on the considerations of the customers.
- Are Google reviews important?
- Is it illegal to buy Google reviews?
- How do reviews on Google help SEO?
- Can Google remove negative reviews?
- Are there rules for reviews on Google?