You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Not even customer reviews. A recent investigation by New York’s Attorney General determined that 1 in 5 Yelp reviews are fake. In the competitive space of local SEO services, don’t get caught up in the review race, because now businesses are facing the consequences.
As reported by MarketWatch, the investigation, known as “Operation Clean Turf”, found that local businesses were compensating contractors in Asia and Eastern Europe for online reviews. The going rate was anywhere from $1 to $10. Competition on directory sites and social media has put local businesses in a “review race” to be the top choice, not only in the eyes of the consumer, but also in search engine results.
A component of local SEO is reputation management on online directories. Positive ratings and keyword usage on these web properties can help your business stand out in the SERPs among your rivals. Do a search for a local product or service and you’ll most likely see a correlation between search rank and online reviews.
It may be tempting to fake these online reviews, given the low cost and potential for signification business, but you may want to think twice. The office of the New York Attorney General has issued fines in excess of $350,000 to businesses for false advertising as a direct result of this fraudulent practice.
Yelp issued a statement not long after the findings of the investigation were released, claiming that they actively work to suppress these fake reviews and that the majority of them are never even seen by the public. So business be warned, paying for fake reviews in place of an organic local SEO strategy does not pay!
Contact the Minneapolis SEO company Snap Agency to learn how your local business can benefit from a legitimate online reputation management strategy.