Fake Reviews? Ethical Business Practices & Digital Marketing

Eth·ics/eTHiks/Noun: moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.

Creating fake reviews may seem like a quick and easy way to attract customers and boost your business’s local profile, but beware of the consequences. Doing so not only violates Google guidelines, but is actually breaking the law. This practice can also backfire and severely diminish your reputation if consumers suspect fake reviews are being utilized.

It’s been documented that consumers rely heavily on reviews to make buying decisions, growing the importance of them. According to a consumer review survey taken by BrightLocal.com, for nearly 9 in 10 consumers, an online review is equally as important as a personal recommendation. They go on to state that with word-of-mouth still the most popular way of recommending a local business, this stat highlights the value of a positive review.

digital_marketingMany SEO companies and small business owners alike have been fined big bucks for utilizing fraudulent reviews. It’s been reported recently that fake reviews are a growing problem specifically on Google Maps and Amazon. Both companies are making an effort to crack down on fake review solicitation companies. Amazon has filed a lawsuit against a review solicitation company, and Google has recently been more aggressive in cracking down on review spam. Yelp has also been more consistent and even added a consumer alert to business profiles when its review guidelines have been violated.

The Federal Trade Commission takes this specific subject seriously as well; their mission is to rid the marketplace of unfair and deceptive marketing. Regarding state governments: According to an article in MarketingLand.com, In New York, 19 SEO companies were fined for being involved in writing and posting fake reviews. They agreed to stop writing fake online reviews, and also pay more than $350,000 in fines.

A business’s online reputation is extremely important and there’s no doubt of the obvious benefits of positive online reviews. However, knowing the multiple risks of producing fake reviews, it’s not worth risking your business reputation and/or livelihood. Long term ethical business practices will ensure avoidance of these issues and the potential damage that may result.

Steerpoint is a full service digital marketing agency that prides itself on professionalism and ethical SEO practices. For over 13 years, we have practiced honesty and transparency, which has lead to mutual trust with our clients. Through our proven digital marketing strategies we have attracted, converted and delivered over 380 thousand qualified sales leads contributing to over 741 million in revenue for our clients over the last 5 years.

Contact us today so that we can tailor a strategy specifically for your business to increase your Return on Investment.