Google does an admirable job of providing a variety of search result data by injecting images, video, and related questions that “People also ask”.
Unfortunately, Google’s algorithms are only so good and mistakes are made. The following mistake (highlighting added for effect), caught by our friend Jacqueline Drew from Tenato.com is a great example of serious misinformation that could very well lead many business owners astray.
Searching for “best google product review software”, Jacqueline discovered a seemingly helpful question in the results “What is the best Google review service?”
The result shows a company (I don’t want to promote them) that nefariously buys Google reviews in an effort to “quickly repair your Google review ratings”.
Why is this bad?
First of all, it is seriously unethical. Period.
Secondly, the People also ask section of results carries some weight. If someone who didn’t know better saw this, they might think that buying reviews is perfectly above board; albeit, they wouldn’t have their ethical filter turned on.
What Google Says: Google clearly states that all “contributions to Google Maps should reflect a genuine experience at a place or business. Fake engagement is not allowed and will be removed.” They detail incentivized reviews and many other types of fake engagement here.
What the Law Says: Buying reviews is 100% illegal and it can incur up to $44,000 in penalties PER infraction according to the Federal Trade Commission in the USA .
If you see fake reviews you can submit your complaints to the FTC here.
“Fake reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements cheat consumers and undercut honest businesses,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Advertisers will pay a price if they engage in these deceptive practices.” (source)
Here, in Canada 🍁, the Competition Bureau polices fake reviews (also 100% illegal here). You can report any fake reviews to the Competition Bureau of Canada here.
How do you handle negative reviews if you have them? These handy tips from First Dentist apply not only to dentists, but other businesses as well.