– By: Andrea Marvin Subscribe to RSS Feed

starsIt can be frustrating when your business receives negative online reviews. In your mind, these reviewers probably represent a very small portion of your customer base. Most of your customers are satisfied, repeat customers or you wouldn’t have been in business for as long as you have in the first place. Unfortunately, the dissatisfied customers are the ones who are the most likely to be very vocal about their experience with your business. Online review sites such as Yelp and social media platforms like Facebook provide an easy platform for people to vent their frustrations.

When you start to see that your online reviews aren’t a good representation of how your customers feel about your business it may be tempting to ask your employees and family to write positive reviews. You may even come across sites that offer to write reviews for you for a reasonable cost. The fact that your reputation is so important to you is exactly the reason that you should not do these things. Consumers aren’t easily fooled by reviews that aren’t genuine. They can see right through both positive and negative reviews that seem less than credible. You definitely don’t want potential customers to think that you might be trying to game the system. Review sites like Yelp are also starting to crack down on fake reviews (you’d be surprised at how easily they can spot fake reviews) and the action they take against your business is much worse than just having a few negative reviews out there.

Here are a few examples of what has happened when businesses tried to improve their online reputation with fake reviews, but got caught:

New York Attorney General Sting

The New York Attorney General began a year-long sting to investigate businesses thought to be posting fake reviews. They found 19 companies who had been improperly posting reviews and fined them between $2,500 to $100,000 per business. The sting specifically targeted companies who were having employees post reviews on sites like Yelp or who had hired companies to write fake reviews.

Yelp Consumer Alerts

Yelp’s entire business model is built on providing quality reviews about business to other consumers. It should be no surprise that they take fake reviews seriously and actively work to weed them out. This can really work to your advantage when Yelp filters out negative reviews that don’t appear credible. However, if you try to game their system you may be hit with a “Consumer Alert” on your account that looks like this.









Being labeled with this alert is like putting up a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign for the next 90 days. It’s just not worth it.

Meet the Author

Andrea Marvin: As a member of Vivial’s marketing team it’s been exciting to see how advertising has transformed over the last several years. We have moved from providing just print advertising to an entire solution set that includes digital advertising. I look forward to sharing the latest and greatest of what we are up to at Vivial along with industry news and trends.