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If you own a business, you have probably heard of the popular review websites that are quickly making a name for themselves, such as Yelp, Angie’s List and Citysearch.
Many businesses have found that they can earn business if they have favorable customer reviews on these sites, and others have found that they can lose business if they have negative reviews. This realization has led some companies to take matters into their own hands and write fake customer reviews.
But writing fake reviews, whether positive for your own business or negative for a competitor, is not a good way to conduct business. The following are four reasons your company should avoid writing fake reviews.
1. You could damage your brand.
Even if you think you’re slick, there’s a good chance that you can get caught writing the fake customer reviews. If you do, it will do major harm to your business. Many companies will either write fake reviews themselves or hire others to write these reviews for them, but many review sites, such as Yelp, are thoroughly back checking the reviews that are left on their site. Yelp even publicly named companies that were found to write fake reviews. If it’s found that your company wrote a fake review, you will be outed, and your company will forever have this disaster hanging over your head. Your customers will remember how you were caught writing fake reviews, and it will certainly make your customers lose trust in your business.
2. You could be banned from review sites.
If your company is caught writing fake customer reviews, the review website has the authority to remove your company from their site. If this occurs, you will lose a great deal of publicity and promotion. Your business will not appear when customers search for your products or services, which means they’ll end up finding your competitors. Plus, review websites provide your company with search engine optimization benefits, and you’ll also lose out on those if your page were to be removed from these sites.
3. You could be fined.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes online reviews seriously, and if your company is found writing fake online customer reviews, you could be fined a huge amount of money. The FTC has guidelines for online reviews, and it is actually illegal to write fake reviews for your business or to pay someone else to write reviews for you, unless you can prove that the review was an endorsement.
4. It’s morally wrong.
Aside from all the above mentioned reasons, you should avoid writing fake reviews because it’s morally wrong. If this is how you want to conduct your business, it simply means that you’re okay with other shady activities. Eventually, karma will come back to haunt you, so it’s best to just run a smart, honest and customer-centric business instead. This way, your real customers will have a pleasant experience with your business and they’ll be willing to write positive and authentic reviews for your business.
Garrett Payne is a professional reviews tracker. He shares tips on spotting fake reviews and reputation management through blogging.