Your business’s online reputation is absolutely crucial — it directly influences what consumers think of you, and ultimately their purchasing decisions. Whether or not you’re profitable, often comes down to how good the reviews of your products and services are.
As of 2021, Google reviews are arguably the most important type of review for a business online. Attaining them can be extremely valuable, which is why you must prioritize getting more.
Some businesses will go as far to buy Google reviews — you shouldn’t, because it’ll only damage your online reputation. Instead, there are a number of different strategies you can implement, to organically generate legitimate Google reviews.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:
- 4 reasons why you shouldn’t buy Google reviews
- 7 better ways to earn Google reviews
- What you need to know about Google reviews
Ready? Let’s get into this.
Why You Shouldn't Buy Google Reviews
Buying Google reviews can hurt your business’s online reputation, and ultimately your bottom line. But, to truly understand why, you need to know — specifically — just why it’s a bad idea. Below, we’ll outline 7 different reasons.
Buying Reviews Is a Violation of Google's Guidelines
It’s very clearly outlined in Google’s guidelines, that fraudulent reviews that are bought, aren’t allowed. Google wants the reviews to accurately reflect a customer's legitimate experience of a product or service. Don’t believe me? They’ve actually stated it themselves:
“Reviews are automatically processed to detect inappropriate content like fake reviews and spam.”
Further down, it goes into even more detail:
“Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings.”
It’s also important to note that, compared to other review platforms like Yelp, Google punishes harshly for fake reviews. Others generally only put a consumer warning, whereas Google often completely deplatforms a business’s business profile listing.
Buying Reviews Can Get You Fined by the FTC
Buying reviews can not only get you in trouble with Google, but the law. The FTC — Federal Trade Commission — is a branch of the government that’s concerned with protecting consumers. They’re the ones who deal with fake review fraud.
A great example of this occurred in 2019 — a company named Cure Encapsulations was fined $12.8 million by the FTC. They had purchased fake reviews on Amazon for its “Garcinia Cambogia” weight-loss pill supplement.
In 2017, another instance where the FTC issued fines occured. 9 car dealerships in California paid a total of $3.6 million. Sage Automotive Group had been posting fake reviews on various platforms, including Yelp, Facebook, and Google.
In 2016, Aura Labs — a blood pressure app maker — received by the FTC, a fine just short of $600,000. The owner of the business had created a 5 out of 5 perfect review for the app, which was named “Instant Blood Pressure.” He failed to disclose his connection to the company.
In 2011, a business selling guitar educational DVDs based in Nashville was issued a $250,000 fine by the FTC. The LLC — Legacy Learning Systems — had been purchasing fake reviews, and not disclosing this to consumers.
Look for more of these sorts of rulings from the FTC in the future. Regardless of whether the review fraud occurs on Google or not. They’ve made it extremely clear what its stance is on the issue.
Buying Reviews Might Hurt Your SEO
Did you know that customer reviews are one of the top 3 most important ranking factors for local SEO? Google values what consumers say about a product or service when it comes to search results.
Fake reviews will seriously negatively influence your business’s ability to rank for those incredibly valuable local search queries. Not just organic results too, but the Google Maps “local 3 map pack” ones as well.
Buying Reviews Makes You Look Bad to Consumers
Consumers in the year 2021 are smart — they can tell when reviews are fake and fraudulent. This’ll make your business look really bad, and word will spread like wildfires, affecting your profitability and bottom line.
Instead, you should try to be as legitimate as possible, as authenticity is everything in today’s world. The internet has supercharged fact checking ability, and the scammers and phonies are weeded out.
You’ll also seldom receive legitimate reviews, which provide valuable insights into the quality of your product or service. How do you expect to improve on the flaws of what you’re selling, if you’re not getting adequate feedback?
Just don’t buy reviews. Your online reputation is way more important.
7 Better Ways to Earn Google Reviews
Instead of buying Google reviews, why not just earn them legitimately? There are a number of viable strategies that you can implement. Below, we’ll list 7 of them.
1. Verify Your Business Profile With Google My Business
To maximize the amount of reviews you get on Google, first start by verifying your business profile. This is your business’s Google Maps information pack that shows on during searches.
Sometimes an individual has already made one for your business. But, even if you did create it, you still need to verify it. It’ll give you complete control and functionality of your business page.
For example, it allows you to respond to reviews. It also allows you to delete any false information, such as location, or opening hours. It also helps to improve your local SEO efforts, which is super important.
Essentially? These are all things that absolutely help in getting more reviews on Google. So let’s verify.
To verify your business profile, you’ll need to create a Google My Business account.
Once you’ve created one, now head back to your business profile and press “Own this business?”
You’ll then be sent to another page where you’ll have to complete a verification process. Once that’s done your Google business profile will now be verified, giving you complete control and functionality. This is a fantastic first step that’ll set you up to acquire more Google reviews.
2. Create a Shortened, Direct Link That Goes to Your Review Submission Page
After verifying your business profile, what you should do next is create a shortened and direct link. This link will go directly to the Google review submission page, where customers can leave feedback.
This is so important, because you’re making it easier for individuals to leave you reviews. You’re making it as simple as clicking a link, instead of clicking through multiple pages.
You’ll also be able to use this link in a number of different platforms, such as:
- Your website
- Your emails
- Your social media profiles/posts
So, how do we create this link? Start by inputting your business’s name into the Google Maps Place ID Finder tool.
Copy the place ID result it spits out for you. Then, paste it at the end of this link:
Here’s an example of how it should look if done right:
See how the link takes you directly to the Google review submission page?
Pretty awesome, right? Now you’ve got a direct link, which makes it easier for customers to leave reviews.
But, there’s one more thing we can do.
The link’s a tad bit too long, so use Bitly to shorten it.
Look how much better it looks now:
And that’s all there is to it. You’ve now got a shortened, direct link that goes directly to your review submission page. This link will be used for a variety of different strategies outlined below.
3. Respond to Existing Reviews
If you want to encourage customers to give more reviews, show that you respond to them. This shows that you actually read them, and acknowledge their criticisms, critiques, and opinions.
So, consider writing up a nice response to all your existing reviews. However, make sure you respond correctly, because if you don’t, you might do more harm than good.
Firstly, never copy and paste the same response for all reviews. This defeats the purpose, as you’re not actually reading what they’ve written.
Secondly, use their name, as people respond better to personalized content.
Thirdly, try to respond as fast as possible. If you take too long to respond, they might not see it — and it looks bad, like you don’t care.
Now, also consider that, an appropriate response for a positive review will differ from one that’s negative. It’s all about avoiding being tone deaf.
For a positive review, show appreciation and acknowledgement. Thank them for taking the effort out of their day. Time is extremely valuable, and they’ve given you some of theirs, so return the favor.
For a negative review, also show acknowledgement, but towards their feedback for you. Address their issues in a healthy manner. Avoid being hostile, stay positive and humble. Being angsty and confrontational would, in this circumstance, just make things worse.
4. Feature a CTA Button on Your Website
If you’ve got a website you can use it to proposition customers to give you a Google review. There are many different ways to do so — one of the easiest is to take advantage of your website footer.
Simply place a CTA (call to action) button there, like in the image above. Make sure the link you use is the one we created earlier in point 2. This’ll take them straight to the page where they can leave a Google review for you.
5. Feature a Popup That Asks for a Review on Your Website
A super simple way to get more reviews is to use a popup on your website. This makes it so that, regardless of what page they’re on your website, they can be propositioned to give one. You can choose to place it on all your pages, or just one — it’s your choice.
It’s recommended that you create a popup that appears in a non intrusive manner, like an exit intent style popup.
This is one that appears when those on your website attempt to leave. It tracks their mouse cursor, and triggers the popup when the individual goes for the back, exit, or new tab buttons.
Also consider using a contrasting color for your CTA button, as well as persuasive copy. Don’t forget to use the direct link we created in point 2 earlier. This’ll send them from your website, straight to the review submission page.
Remember not to incentivize the popup. You can’t solicit them for a review, as it’s against Google’s rules. Doing so would cause the ads to become fraudulent.
6. Utilize an Email Marketing Campaign
One tremendous way to get more Google reviews is to take advantage of email marketing and build a subscriber list.
If you’ve got a built up email list, then take advantage of it. Email marketing is a great way to get more Google reviews.
There are various different strategies and methods you can use. You don’t want to spam them and look desperate, so the best way would be to create some “autoresponder sequences.”
These are automated emails that are sent to someone — in this instance, a customer — when a trigger goes off.
A trigger could potentially be:
- Someone purchasing your product/service
- Someone abandoning a cart at your storefront
- Someone signing up for your email list
- Someone downloading something from your website
So, you’ll want to set up a few autoresponder sequences targeting customers. When the trigger goes off, an email will be sent, asking them for an honest Google review.
You can do all of this with a quality email provider, such as:
7. Put a CTA Button or Your Review Link in Your Email Signature
Want to get even more Google reviews from your email marketing strategy? Consider taking advantage of your email signature.
Your email signature is located at the bottom of your emails — it’s basically the footer section. It’s there in every email you send, so you can imagine the potential it has for generating more reviews.
Consider putting your shortened, direct link we mentioned earlier there. So, everytime you send an email to a customer, it has the potential to generate another review.
You can either just use your text link, or you can create a HTML call to action button. Both work well, so pick what suits your brand’s style.
This is a super easy way to get a few more extra Google reviews from your email campaigns.
What You Need to Know About Google Reviews
Still have some general questions surrounding Google reviews? Look below to find answers.
Is it legal to buy Google reviews?
No, it’s not legal to buy Google reviews. As detailed earlier in this article, the FTC considers undisclosed paid endorsements illegal. If you are caught buying fake reviews, you’ll be fined, as many others have.
It’s simply not worth it.
Can Google detect fake reviews?
Yes, Google can detect fake reviews. They have a spam detection algorithm that actively scans for them. If discovered, they’ll be taken down, and your entire Google business profile could be deleted.
Why are Google reviews important?
Google reviews are so vitally important for a number of different reasons.
Firstly, reviews — of any kind — are intimately related to the consumer perception of your product or service. It’s what potential customers look at to assess the quality of what you’re selling. Because of this, you need to ensure your product or service has an awesome rep.
Secondly, Google is the premier review platform on the internet these days. It used to be Yelp, but things have changed.
Thirdly, Google reviews are one of the top 3 ranking factors for local SEO. As a business, local search results are extremely important. If you want to rank well for those valuable local search queries, you need good reviews — lots of them.
Why should I respond to a Google review about my business?
Responding to Google reviews that customers leave shows that you care about their feedback and opinions. It suggests that you’re open to criticism, and are openly looking for ways to improve your product/service.
It’s really about ideally managing your business’s online reputation, which is so important in today’s digital world. Your brand’s success can often come down to its perception, based on what customers and consumers are saying.
So, take the time to respond to those who’ve taken the time to leave reviews. It’s common courtesy — and frankly good business.
In this article, we covered everything you need to know about Google reviews, including:
- 4 reasons why you shouldn’t purchase fake reviews for Google
- 7 different strategies you can use to generate more reviews
- Frequently asked questions about Google reviews
With the information that we’ve provided, you should now be able to improve your business’s online reputation on Google.
Got a question that needs answering? Leave a comment below.