Why buying Google reviews is a bad idea

When your business needs more Google reviews, it might be tempting to do whatever it takes to get them. However, while buying reviews might seem like a quick, easy solution, it actually leads to several consequences.

Why are online reviews important?

There’s no denying the impact of online reviews. 92% of customers read reviews before making a purchase decision. And 88% trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family (BrightLocal Consumer Survey). Clearly, having positive reviews gives you a huge advantage over competitors. But here’s the catch: reviews are only effective if they’re authentic. Both customers and review sites have a knack for spotting phonies.


Read also: Google lost my reviews, what can I do?

What does it mean to buy Google reviews?

“Buying” reviews includes paying sketchy businesses to write fake reviews. It could also mean offering incentives to customers in exchange for positive reviews.

How can buying Google reviews hurt my business?

In addition to being frowned upon, paying for Google reviews can backfire in several ways:

    • Customers might mention the incentive in their review. For example, let’s say a customer writes “This place was awesome, they gave me $5 credit just for leaving a review! Great pizza”. For people reading that review, it will be painfully obvious that it’s not entirely authentic. They won’t be convinced the pizza was great–in fact, they might even assume the opposite given the nature of the review. An incentivized review is meaningless at best.
    • Review sites can detect fake reviews. And when they do, the punishment is often severe. Many review sites have sophisticated algorithms specifically designed to identify fake reviews. When they catch a business in the act, some sites generate pop-ups on that business’ profile so every time someone visits that profile, they’re confronted with a flashy warning not to trust that business.
    • You won’t know what’s working and what’s not. You can’t improve your business without honest feedback. A customer might have been disappointed with some aspect of your business, but leave a falsely positive review because they’re receiving a reward. Their problem will go undetected and could occur again, deterring customers from returning and possibly resulting in a negative review.


So how do you get new Google reviews from your customers?

You don’t have to sacrifice your ethics to get lots of new reviews. Of course, the only surefire way to get positive reviews is to consistently provide great experiences. Then you can accelerate the process and maximize the power of positive reviews with an automated software like BirdEye.

Here are some key tips to help you collect more reviews and boost your ratings quickly, and most importantly, authentically:

  • Ask for feedback immediately. Sending an email days later–or even hours later–asking your customer for a review is just going to come across as annoying. That sad little email is likely to be ignored or overlooked entirely. Instead, reaching out while your customer is still on-site grabs their attention while your business is still top of mind, keeping your message relevant rather than disruptive, increasing completion rates.
  • Meet them on mobile. Talk to customers the way they talk to each other: through text messages. An SMS review request fits seamlessly into the digitally connected lifestyle of today’s customers: 98% of text messages are opened, compared to only 20% of emails (Mobile Marketing Watch). There’s a pretty good chance your customers will at least read your review request text–so then what? This brings us to Number 3.
  • Make it super easy. So the customer has opened your text and read it. From here, they will either close the message or post a review. How do you ensure it’s the latter? By making the whole process ridiculously smooth. The more steps involved in writing a review, the less likely a customer is to complete them. Make the transition from text message to review site involve minimal effort, so the customer doesn’t have to think twice about continuing. BirdEye uses app deep-linking to route happy customers directly from your text message to a third-party review site. No need to close one app, open another, login, and search for a business. With BirdEye, your customer can post a public review in just a few clicks.
  • Automate the whole process. Managing this manually would be tedious and often impossible. That’s where automated software like BirdEye comes in. BirdEye not only lets you automatically request feedback from every customer immediately after a service or transaction; the platform also identifies which customers were satisfied with your business, and routes only happy customers to third party sites to write reviews.


Bottom line: The best way to get lots of new Google reviews is not to try to game the system, it’s to provide great products and services and make it easy for your customers to rave about you.

To learn more about best practices for getting new reviews and how you can use them to grow your business, check out our new ebook “The Ultimate Guide to Online Reviews”.

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