One of the things that SEO marketing companies are heavily pushing is for their clients to get reviews from customers to place as testimonials on their site and to use on business directory sites or local search sites. There are some potential drawbacks, however, including the actual procurement of those reviews. Do the search marketing firms think that everyone who does business with you is interested in writing a review? Do they think that all of those reviews will be written well enough to be presentable? Will some just be so generic they won’t matter? All of these questions and more are posed every day by internet marketers. The answers to these particular questions may have several angles. But, there is one question that has a very clear answer. If you are ready to ask, “Can I write (or have written for me) fake reviews to help my SEO?” then the only, and very clear answer is a resounding “NO!”
If you already have some fake reviews on your site that are glowing and loaded with your keywords and intended to be a part of your search engine optimization techniques, get rid of them. Beware, there is very likely going to be yet another Google algorithm update that, among other things, will detect spammy or overly positive and ultra-glowing reviews that appear engineered, or fake. If your SEO marketing company has written them for you, they are doing you a disservice. If you have written them yourself or had them done by friends or family, clean it up, now.
What About Reputation Management?
Some SEO marketing firms that offer reputation management will provide fake reviews to help bury negative press. This is not the best way to handle the negative press, and having fake reviews might only make things worse. They will be detected. If nothing else, Google has shown the world that they do not like to be fooled, by anyone. They catch on to any and all schemes, and those who participate are quickly taken down, sometimes actually whacked, mob-style.
What Are Acceptable Ways of Getting Reviews?
Yes, reviews are still a great part of any SEO plan and you should be trying to get as many as you can. But, be careful about how you get them. Ideally, a customer will be satisfied and submit a comment directly to you, via email. This email can be saved, and can be shown to be an original comment, written by a very real customer. Companies that ask customers to type in a comment or review on a computer located within their establishment are going to have problems—even when the comments are genuine, the repeat IP address will ultimately become suspect.
Surveys, via email, are a perfect way to elicit reviews from customers. Although the jury is still out on whether or not you should offer a small incentive, offering a coupon in exchange for the customer’s comments, or another type of discount, is probably not out of line.
Reviews are still a viable part of your online strategy, and you should be pursuing them. Just be cautious, because they are very likely going to be scrutinized very soon, and you do not want to be penalized for any inadvertent violations. Be genuine, use real comments, and no one will get hurt!