One of the key components of Google Places is the ability to add reviews to business listings. It allows people who have had dealings with the business in the past to add their two cents worth, negative or positive, in order to show new customers what kind of company they will be dealing with.
Naturally, this freedom concerns the business in question; the reviews they receive could determine the future of their online marketing campaign. While it’s not possible for businesses to hide their negative reviews from their potential customers, it IS possible for them to inflate their positive reviews.
I don’t know about you, but when I do searches within my own industry, SEO on Google Maps (and believe me I do this a LOT) I’m always frustrated to see listings that have inflated themselves with 20+ 5 star reviews. Especially when the reviews are of the calibre below:
“BEST SERVICE We try them and find a grate response. We suggested you to chose them”
“Very well seo company This is a very well seo company in the sydney”
“A Grate Company I like this company because its make 1 page rank in Google”
It pains me to say this, but this sort of thing is now a part of everyday life on Google Places. And while many business owners have the misconception that the more 5 star reviews you have the higher your listing will rank, the fact of the matter is these reviews are actually going to have an ADVERSE effect on your Google Places Optimisation campaign. Take my example above; even though these are all 5 star reviews even a child could determine that they are spam.
It’s important to understand that humans are very scrutinous creatures, ESPECIALLY when it comes to marketing. When people are shopping online for a particular product or service they are generally on “yellow alert” – they will carefully examine deals, check to make sure they are purchasing through secure portals, and they will be on the lookout for common marketing tricks like spamming. If a person even suspects they are being tricked or lied to in any way they immediately go to “red alert”: they’ll dismiss your site, they’ll click back, sometimes they will even go on the offensive slandering your company in reviews, or telling their friends to steer clear of you.
In short, trying to trick someone into buying your product or service is the worst thing you can do as an online business.
While it can be difficult to get positive reviews for your business legitimately, it isn’t impossible. Entice your existing customers to write reviews by offering them something for their time, such as a discount on their next visit, or a coupon for free shipping with their next purchase. Most of the time, people will be happy to write a few positive words if your site offered a good shopping experience – and offering an incentive will more often than not seal the deal!
In conclusion, remember: inflating your positive reviews may be a tempting prospect, but you must always consider the downside if this is done incorrectly. The best way to increase your positive reviews is to make sure your business operates with honesty and integrity; do this, and the reviews will come naturally.