In the 21st century, online reviews are a crucial component of corporate marketing. Consumer decision-making is aided by review websites like HelloPeter, Google, and TrustPilot in a variety of sectors including hotels, auto repair, and healthcare. Checking internet reviews is often one of the first steps individuals take before making a purchase or paying for a service.

Often, the average of these reviews provides a star rating or a score on a five-point scale. Typically, companies strive for a score of five or better. Perfect ratings are generally unrealistic because it is virtually impossible for a company to have never had an unhappy client or visitor.

Perfect ratings on review websites can occasionally raise suspicions that a company is buying reviews. Giving money to clients or other parties in exchange for well-written evaluations is a practice riddled with moral and legal ambiguities. This strategy might be used by some shady companies, but it’s best to completely ignore it. At 1-grid we have found that research suggests more and more companies are offering compensation to clients willing to give them good reviews. This type of behaviour can lead to consumers questioning the validity of review platforms altogether. 

Below we will look at various reasons why opting to pay customers for reviews are bad for business:

Damage to your business reputation

Imagine that your neighbourhood gets a new company. Although you haven’t been yet, you’ve seen the business gets many positive ratings already. Then someone claims to have received a free item in return for a five-star rating. Would you still believe the reviews or the company? If you offer incentives for reviews, you can experience the same thing. Word can get out if only one person tells a friend that you give discounts in exchange for ratings.

Your business may still suffer significant reputational harm even if it escapes punishment for posting fake reviews. Review sites can penalise those who violate moral standards even when their primary purpose is to promote local businesses.

Paid for reviews can damage SEO

Did you know that customer reviews count as one of the three most important ranking factors for local SEO? Google takes consumer feedback into account when determining search results for a certain product or service. The ability of your business to rank in local search results will be significantly harmed by fake reviews, which will affect both organic results and results from Google Maps’ local 3-map bundle.

Google has cautioned marketers and brands against purchasing fake reviews. Google has a spam detection algorithm that it uses to identify unethical behaviour, such as fake reviews. Your overall number of reviews will decrease after your false reviews are found and eliminated, which will lower your SEO ranking.

Paid for reviews are illegal in some countries

The two issues we’ve already highlighted have to do with the businesses that run review platforms and the improper incentives inside the online world. The possibility of your company being fined and subject to legal action for publishing false reviews is the third reason. Review websites are extremely diligent about removing fake customer reviews from their platforms because of this potential legal responsibility.

The Federal Trade Commission, also known as the FTC, protects consumers. Removing unfair or deceptive marketing from the market is one of its responsibilities. It has the power to file a lawsuit against you and impose fines if it discovers that your company actively pays for reviews.

The FTC should never become involved with your company as a result of publishing fake customer reviews. It’s preferable not to find out whether you would ever face a federal inquiry for this kind of action, even though it’s legally debatable.

Damage to the industry

By paying people to post positive reviews, you discredit all the hard work and effort that honest businesses put in. Customers who are trying to assess who is good and who isn’t see these reviews and this can cause them to lose confidence in their choice which can negatively impact other businesses who are honest and who focus on these platforms.

Paying for reviews could discredit hard work and effort by honest businesses, by reducing the clients’ trust in online reviews and lead to consumer distrust in entire sectors of the market where such behaviour is present.

How to get reviews the RIGHT way

To avoid suffering the above-mentioned penalties, there are certain things you can do to get reviews the right way. Well, not paying is the obvious choice as an alternative to paying for reviews. Positive reviews can be collected and shared in a number of ways without using questionable tactics.

Want a positive review? Ask for it

Consumers generally already voice their thoughts and opinions without being encouraged to do so. Asking for customer feedback is nothing to be afraid of, especially if they are happy with the assistance provided by your company. By failing to actively request reviews, businesses lose out on simple chances to obtain internet ratings and reviews.

Engage with and reply to reviews

Engaging with customers on review sites is a fantastic additional strategy for obtaining positive reviews. Some companies are reluctant to get online and interact with customers and potential customers. However, having cordial, professional talks with people can result in interactions that result in reviews for your company. It’s critical for companies to monitor the online conversations and reviews that are being shared about them.

We want to hear from you

We would love to hear our readers’ opinions. Let’s start a discussion around whether or not you feel reviews should be paid for. Feel free to leave a comment below and get in touch with us via our social pages: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.