Checking out online reviews is generally seen as a great way to evaluate a service or product before making a booking or a purchase. This is an ideal way to judge the reputation of the person, company or brand you are looking to directly deal with.
Positive reviews for products, local businesses, and restaurants on websites such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google Plus and Facebook have the potential to greatly impact and accelerate the success of many companies. As a result there are many individuals trying to pull the wool over the system’s eyes to ensure they are getting a share of the revenues by posting fake reviews for their products or services. In recent years this has become a service that many digital marketing agencies a have begun to offer.
The government in the UK has gotten wind of this scheming and are therefore pulling in the reigns, they are making it their business to ensure that their citizens are not being taken advantage of and losing their hard earned cash.
Following a recent investigation of an online marketing and SEO business who were found publishing online reviews that were in fact a sham, the country´s CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) has made it their goal to put a halt to the posting of fake reviews as well as get rid of the ones that are in existence.
While investigating the above mentioned SEO business the CMA discovered that hundreds of fake reviews had been posted at the request of eighty six different small companies and could be found on twenty six various websites. The businesses requesting these reviews include, mechanics, landscapers, car dealers, gardeners and many more.
There has since been a list of directions provided by the CMA for companies in which they explain how to abide by the consumer protection law. First and foremost they stipulate that you should not try posting positive reviews as if you were a client and do not offer compensation in exchange for a positive review such as a meal free of charge or any other incentive your clients may be interested in.
CMA reported that over half of the consumers in the UK refer to online reviews as reference for their purchases, in other words over $32 billion is spent by UK shoppers based solely off of online reviews opinions.
This is not only happening in the UK. A study done by Harvard Business School in 2013 found that at least in the area of Boston Yelp had at least 16% fake restaurant reviews being published. In a stance against the practice last year Yelp sued a company which was found to be selling fake positive reviews to restaurants on Yelps website.
There is a very simple lesson here for businesses: just do a good job of putting your business in front of your target customers, and a good digital marketing agency will take care of this. Get your business noticed, get more customers through your door and provide them with a great product or service that they will be motivated to leave a great review for you. And, yes you can ask for reviews if a customer is happy.