Building a strong online presence is a priority for a lot of local businesses. The problem is that most people don’t take the time to leave your company a review on Yelp unless they are upset, which can be where business owners can think to look up how to buy Yelp reviews.
Maintaining a positive online reputation is important because 72% of customers don’t take any action until they read reviews about your business first.
This is natural. Customers want to assess a local business’s worth and form a positive perception before deciding to engage or hire you.
When a small business owner receives several 5-star ratings and positive reviews, it helps them claim more online real estate on Yelp.
Word-of-mouth can make or break your business, but how far would you be willing to go to guarantee 5-star reviews? Growing your reviews and managing them can take time and effort, and some small business owners are tempted to buy Yelp reviews to get a headstart.
Keep reading to find out why you should avoid buying reviews on Yelp and how you can instead use ethical methods to boost your reviews and customer ratings.
Why You Should Not Buy Yelp Reviews
What exactly is the purpose of a review?
Firstly, reviews are a reflection of authentic customer experiences.
For new customers, it’s a great way to research your business and decide whether they should hire you or not. For business owners, reviews act as a valuable insight into the customer experience and help identify improvement areas in their product or service.
“Buying reviews” refers to the unethical practice of paying an agency or false consumers to post positive star ratings and ingenuine positive feedback about your company on review service platforms like Yelp.
Sometimes, even real customers can be convinced to post positive fake reviews on Yelp by incentivizing them. For example, you could offer free services, extravagant discounts, or a money-back guarantee in exchange for a 5-star rating.
By doing so, you rob yourself of several advantages, and you’re also risking damage to your local brand for a short-term reputational boost.
More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy Yelp Reviews
Yelp Bans Fraudulent Reviews
Yelp is very aware of the temptations small businesses may have to boost their online credibility through false reviews. The platform started tracking these activities as early as 2012, and punished the companies that were found guilty.
Since then, Yelp adopted an algorithm that scans each review posted on the site and weeds out the fake ones. This system makes it near-impossible for businesses to get away with fake reviews on Yelp without being caught.
In some instances, Yelp may also deem the business in concern as unfit to continue showcasing their profile and reviews on the platform. The Customer Alerts program is one such safeguard Yelp has created to warn businesses that engage in fishy activity by incentivizing customers and promoting fake praise.
A business that is flagged by Yelp in this manner will suffer from a warning message appearing on their review page every time a Yelp user accesses it.
This warning will only disappear after 90 days–that is, if the business is no longer engaging in fake review practices.
However, 90 days is a long time and can lead to valuable business being lost. That aforementioned red warning would be a massive deterrent to prospective customers.
Furthermore, this isn’t an issue restricted to just Yelp’s platform. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes action against businesses that solicit reviews in this unethical manner across many different review sites.
Customers May Post About the Incentives Online
Let’s say you’re a local contractor. A customer just had a fantastic experience with you. In exchange for them sharing a positive Yelp review of your service, you offer them a complimentary $50 credit.
You may have done this out of goodwill, not even with an incentive to boost your reviews. However, if the customer posts their review and mentions explicitly that you offered such incentives, the situation could lead to some long-lasting damage to your business’s online image and even deter potential customers.
Other prospective customers reading that review will perceive your business as suspicious and untrustworthy. This perception can spread on other social media platforms, too.
Incentivizing or buying Yelp reviews from genuine customers is just as bad as doing so from fake agencies, and it can backfire in ways you don’t expect.
Your Business’s Performance Can Suffer
Let’s say you successfully bought ten good reviews, and now there’s several 5-star ratings and excellent feedback about your business on Yelp. It may help attract other Yelpers (through false pretenses,) but will it genuinely benefit your business growth?
As a business, you should be willing to face the reality that not every customer will be 100% satisfied with your service. An unhappy customer has the right to share this feedback with you through a negative review, and forward-looking businesses would take this critique seriously to improve their product or service.
Remember–a bad review is not necessarily a bad thing. Customers that are willing to point out the areas that require improvement may actually be saving you the time and cost of making errors in the long run. This feedback can lead to higher quality of service, too.
So don’t try to drown the noise of helpful feedback with fake, bought reviews.
How to Earn More Real Yelp Reviews!
Set Up Yelp Business Account
If you’re looking to attract customers through Yelp, the very first thing you should do is set up a Yelp business account.
Your Yelp business page is your one-stop-shop for managing all your customer interactions and viewing your performance metrics for your business on Yelp.
Without creating your Yelp business account and claiming it on the platform, you cannot respond to or manage any business reviews you receive.
Create a Yelp Review Email Template
One of the tried, tested, and proven methods for digital marketing is via email.
If you already have email marketing campaigns woven into your content marketing strategy, consider creating a customized email template solely for encouraging Yelp reviews.
The easiest way to do this is by adding a Yelp review link to your email, preferably next to your email signature. This can come in the form of widgets or a direct link that acts as a CTA for your customers.
Ask Happy Customers for Reviews
Believe it or not, simply asking your customers for a review is an effective method of earning more positive, authentic praise online.
If you have repeat customers or an existing loyal customer base who appreciate your quality of service, they might be willing to share their experiences with your business online in the form of honest, real reviews. Of course, it’s essential you do not phrase it as an incentive or explicitly tell them to give you a 5-star Yelp review.
Instead, the next time you do business with a loyal customer, give them a gentle nudge by asking them to visit your Yelp page. They might just drop that amazing customer testimonial and good review you’ve been dreaming of.
Get Reviews the Right Way
Taking the ethical approach to growing online reviews is a strategy that will benefit your business in the long run. You can even consider using a review management software to help you on this journey.
But keep your focus on the bigger picture as you strategize your online marketing goals. Do you want a one-off, fake customer review that spouts false praise about your business? Or would you rather have a variety of positive reviews that are authentic and actionable?
The choice is yours.