- They don’t reflect a genuine experience
- The are posted to manipulate the ratingsBoth of the schemes I’m going to address “Review Swaps” and “Friends & Family” are in violation of these two rules.
Have you ever thought about simply offering another business owner the option to write a review for your business in return for a review on his? This is called review swapping and is against Google’s policies.
A review swap is basically where “you review me” and “I’ll review you”. We see this scheme with professionals quite often. An example would be when a group of lawyers get together and swap reviews around to each other for the sole purpose of creating the illusion of being well respected and having loads happy clients. This basically undermines the whole meaning of a 4 or 5 star rating. When future customers try to evaluate a business or individual based on these fake reviews, they are mislead and can not accurately make a judgement.
Asking Your Friends & Family for Reviews
Have you thought of asking all of your friends, and relatives to leave positive (5 star) reviews? Seems smart, but also against Googles policies. We see this most often when there are 7 or 8 reviews, all posted 10 months ago, and then no more reviews since. First of all, new customers want to see fresh and relevant reviews. They want to get a feel for how a business currently treats people, not how they did a year ago. It was found in a recent national survey that 77% of customers think that reviews older than three months are worthless. Secondly, if Google determines these reviews to be fake, you may receive a warning, or the almighty-Google may just smite all of your reviews.
Just Say No
Though these two schemes for getting reviews don’t seem all that bad, they are still in violation of Google review policy and will have the same results as if you literally paid for reviews to be forged by some group overseas; your reviews will be deleted, and most likely your local business listing will take a nose-dive in ranking.