Reviews have become an essential factor to reach more customers and improve SEO rankings. Studies show that rankings are one of the most important of all local SEO ranking factors with the volume, frequency and rating of reviews critical to achieving local visibility. One in eight consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and around half look for a four star review as a minimum before purchasing.

Incentivising customers to leave positive reviews is no small task for a marketing team and the temptation to create fake reviews can be too much. But it’s a step you should be steering clear of.

Like all SEO practices there are those that are white hat and those that are black hat. Soliciting fake reviews falls firmly into the black hat category. With consumers now expecting reviews on a range of platforms to help them make decisions and reviews affecting your SEO ranking – is creating fake reviews really that bad? It can be tempting to turn to a dishonest branding agency London to boost fake reviews but it’s one you should avoid.

Firstly, fake reviews may be giving your leads an impression of your business that you might not be able to live up to, leading to expectations not being met and in turn creating further negative reviews. Secondly, it’s a practice that platforms are clamping down on. Last year, Amazon sued over a 1,000 sellers for fake reviews, Google warned product reviews to disclose any compensation they receive for positive reviews, and Yelp has been taking steps to uncover suspicious accounts.

With platforms keen to weed out fake reviews, using them has the potential to deliver reputational damage that could take investment and time from a branding agency London to recover.

The only step to take to ensure that you don’t fall into the fake review pit is to stick to the tried and tested white hat techniques that can deliver results. Your aim should be to improve both the quality and quantity of the reviews that you’re receiving and there are some simple ways to encourage customers that won’t get you into trouble with review platforms:

  • Email a request for a review. This simple but effective strategy can have a big impact on the number of customers leaving reviews for your products or services. Once you’ve delivered send a simple automated email request and make it simple, for example providing a link where they can leave a review, and watch your numbers grow.
  • Remind them in the packaging. If you ship products, you have the perfect opportunity to remind your customers that you value their feedback. A small card slipped in among their purchases they’ve been waiting to receive could be all that it takes and you can work with a branding agency London to ensure it matches your other materials for consistency.
  • Make the suggestion in store. Bridge the gap between your digital reputation and physical stores by including review request signs throughout your premises.