Discover why buying Google reviews can harm your business in the long run. Learn about the risks, impact on SEO, and alternatives to enhance your online reputation authentically.
Why Buying Google Reviews Hurts Your Business

Optimizing customer reviews has become one of the most lucrative online marketing strategies today. As a result, many businesses are looking for quick and easy ways to gather online reviews and enhance their reputation, such as purchasing fake Google reviews. However, does this approach truly benefit your business? In this article, we will explore how buying Google reviews can actually be detrimental to your business's success.

How effective are Google Reviews for a business?

Optimizing your Google Reviews is one of the best ways to strengthen your online reputation. Recent surveys suggest that 81% of internet users are likely to check Google Reviews before they visit a business in person. Aside from the accessibility of Google apps to consumers, Google also doesn't fall short in creating online strategies to help internet users get access to their listings.

For instance, hotels and property rentals have Google Hotels, which allows them to streamline Google searches to direct booking platforms. To learn more about this, click here. On the other hand, restaurants have Reserve with Google, which enables customers to book a table directly from a Google My Business listing. If you're interested in this, read our complete article here. All of these Google marketing initiatives feature Google Reviews; needless to say, they can truly make or break consumers' perceptions of your business.

Moreover, Google Reviews have been proven to increase a business's conversion rate. In the hospitality industry, for example, 72% of mobile bookings occur immediately after a Google search. Thus, it is essential for businesses to prioritize their Google Reviews optimization if they want to boost their revenue generation.

Should I buy Google Reviews?

Numerous online platforms now offer fabricated Google Reviews for businesses. Prices range from $0.15 to $1.50 per review, and additional features such as keyword optimization, customized reviews, and 30-day guaranteed reviews.

While it may be inviting, you should not buy Google Reviews.

Buying Google Reviews may help you boost your visibility, improve your online ranking, and attract more customers... but only for a short amount of time. Sooner or later, Google will detect fraudulent content and flag your listing.

Sample of a “Buy a Google Review” ad.

Online review websites run their own algorithm to detect fake content. For instance, Trustpilot has implemented its own fraud detection software and removed 2.2 million fake reviews. While the consequence may vary depending on the platform and your unauthorized activity, there's a high chance that your listing may be suspended or completely removed from the website.

The same caution applies to incentivizing customers. While some businesses may not resort to buying reviews, they may offer payment or discounts to customers who post positive reviews on online review platforms. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against companies that have employed such tactics in the past, as it can manipulate customer feedback and deceive potential clients.

Consequently, businesses should report any fake reviews that may be posted on their listings. Regardless if other people post it, it would also reflect negatively on your listing. To learn more about this, read Learn How to Remove Google Reviews and What To Do If You Can't.

What are the risks of buying Google Reviews?

Here are some of the dangers of buying fake Google Reviews:

Violate Google's Guidelines

Google places significant value on the authenticity of its content. Google uses "intelligent text matching" to check for bots, duplicate content, and similar word patterns, which enables them to flag potentially fake reviews. Additionally, Google allows users to flag reviews they consider suspicious or fraudulent. Depending on the severity of the manipulation, consequences can include account suspension, removal of offending reviews, and even fines.

To gain further insight into identifying and dealing with fake Google reviews, refer to the article Spotting Fake Google Reviews: A Guide to Identifying and Dealing with Fake Reviews.

Impact your SEO

Fraudulent Google reviews can have adverse effects on your SEO, particularly your local ranking. Once you purchase fake reviews and are flagged by Google, your ranking on Google searches may decrease significantly.

Do Google Reviews help SEO?

Yes. Google Reviews help Google rank your listings on relevant Google searches. Google Reviews play a pivotal role in determining the ranking of your listings on relevant Google searches. They provide relevant keywords and content to help the algorithm properly index and crawl your listing.

To learn more about SEO optimization for reviews, read How to SEO Optimize Your Review Responses.

Fake Google reviews. (Source)

Conflict with FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent US agency that enforces civil and antitrust laws for consumer protection. Since they also cover digital marketing, they also protect consumers from fake online reviews.

In fact, FTC fined a weight-loss supplement company for over $12.8 million due to fake Amazon reviews. While you may have to face a different charge or pay a different amount for fake Google reviews, financial settlements like this may still be detrimental to your company's budget.

Harm your online reputation

Now that the internet is brimming with fake and fraudulent stores, consumers have become extra cautious when making purchases. Recent surveys suggest that 90% of consumers read online reviews from numerous websites before visiting a business. If your listing gets flagged on online review websites, especially on a platform as accessible as Google, it can significantly damage your reputation.

Once your listing is flagged, potential clients may perceive your business as illegitimate, leading to a loss of trust and potential customer base.

Get unrealistic data

Google Reviews provide businesses with valuable market data that can aid in creating highly effective marketing campaigns. Having fake Google Reviews will reduce your chance of conducting accurate market research and customer profiling. This will prevent you from truly improving your online credibility and overall business growth.

What are the alternatives to buying Google Reviews?

Fortunately, businesses don't really have to resort to buying fake reviews. Here are some ways how you can collect more Google reviews to boost your listing:


Promote your Google listing.

First, let your customers know you have an active Google My Business listing. You can try placing a Google Reviews widget on your website, creating a post across your social media accounts, and directly informing your on-site customers about your listing. You can also encourage your staff to invite clients to post reviews right after their purchase. Recent customers, especially satisfied ones, are the most likely to write a review about your business.

Sample of Google Reviews social media post. (Source)

Optimize your Google My Business listing.

Capitalize on people's inclination to customer participation. Contrary to popular belief, customers appreciate the opportunity to help their trusted stores. Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing is an effective way to encourage more people to leave reviews. A fully optimized GMB profile signals potential reviewers that their input is valued and is imperative to the success of the brand.

To learn more about optimizing your Google Business, read Google My Business Guide: How to Optimize Your Profile.

Sample of a fully optimized Google My Business listing.

Automate your review process.

Automating your review process is crucial for generating more Google reviews. A significant number of shoppers abandon their online orders due to complicated and long checkout processes, and the same goes for posting Google reviews. Consider implementing a QR code that directly redirects customers to your Google listing. Make the code easily accessible on your website, social media accounts, mailing list, and even your physical location.

To learn more about collecting Google reviews, read Learn How to Generate and Share a Google Reviews Link

Sample of a Google Reviews poster in a physical store. (Source)

Respond to all Google Reviews.

Acknowledging customers' reviews by responding to them is imperative in collecting more Google reviews. Since customers invest time and effort in reviewing your business, expressing gratitude for their feedback can encourage others to follow suit. Consequently, replying to negative reviews and addressing their concerns can also create the impression that you're on top of every customer issue. This fosters confidence among potential clients, thus increasing your conversion rate.

To learn more about responding to Google Reviews, read How to Respond to Every Google Review in Seconds.

Hotel brand responding to Google reviews.

Boost your Google Review ranking without buying fake reviews.

We understand that responding to Google reviews can be challenging, especially while managing your day-to-day business operations. However, it is crucial to prioritize this task in order to improve customer engagement and increase revenue.

Fortunately, there is an AI tool that can assist you in this endeavor. MARA is an AI writing assistant specifically designed to craft engaging and fully optimized responses to online reviews. Each reply is generated based on key industry metrics to ensure that your review not only enhances your online reputation but also attracts more clients.

Since MARA is a web application, it provides seamless integration into your current business workflow. Furthermore, its easy-to-use interface can be used by anyone from your team. Just copy the Google review, paste it into the MARA message box, and you'll get a fully-optimized review in seconds!

MARA creates personalized responses. So you don't have to use templates that may trigger websites' intelligent text-matching algorithms.

As mentioned a while ago, websites have become increasingly cautious about fraudulent listing content. This includes review responses, too. Using templates can make it seem like you're using a bot to respond to reviews. Aside from the risk of getting flagged, it may also drive away potential clients.

MARA uses a Generative AI algorithm that mimics human language. It's designed to directly address the content of the reviews while adding personalization based on your response setting. This way, customers won't feel like they're talking to writing bots.

Sample of MARA’s response and reply settings.

To learn more about MARA AI Review Reply Generator, register for a FREE account at this link.

Final Thought

The internet is now brimming with services to help businesses improve their online credibility. Unfortunately, this includes fraudulent means such as buying fake Google reviews. Remember that these strategies only provide band-aid solutions to your marketing woes and can even be detrimental to your business. If you really want to boost your online reputation, go with legitimate optimization efforts that will allow you to connect with your clients better.

This article is part of our hero content on "Mastering Google Reviews - A Complete Guide."

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Can we buy Google reviews?

While numerous websites offer this service, Google My Business listing owners are not allowed to buy Google reviews. This is considered a direct violation of Google Reviews’ content guidelines.

Does Google detect fake reviews?

Yes. Google uses intelligent text matching to check for bots, duplicate content, and similar word patterns, which enables them to flag potentially fake reviews. Aside from this, Google users can also flag a Google Reviews post if they deem it fraudulent or deceiving.

How can I increase my Google reviews for free?

There are numerous ways to increase the number of your Google reviews for free. You can share the QR code of your Google My Business listing on your website, social media profiles, mailing list, or even on your physical store. You can also encourage customers to leave a Google review right after their on-site purchase.

Can I import reviews to Google?

Google only allows importing reviews to Google Merchants, which usually includes eCommerce stores. The feature is not available for Google My Business listing owners

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