Yelp Tightens the Noose

Phony Reviews Get More Dangerous

If you’re a long-term reader, you know that I’ve cautioned you about phony reviews on review sites.  I’ve warned that phony reviews undermine the credibility of review sites, so we can expect them to work hard to identify phony reviews.  Yes, you may be smart, you may know how to do it, but you are playing with fire and it’s best to avoid phony reviews.

Yelp

Yelp claims to get more than 100 million visitors to its site every quarter.  Presumably, many of these people have come for help in a purchasing decision.  That’s a lot of influence for Yelp!  Yelp also says that they are serious about review quality and that they screen both automatically and manually for any non-authentic reviews.  Including incentivizing people to make reviews.
Yelp’s response when they believe they have found faked reviews is to put a consumer alert along with your listing, so that everyone who comes to see your reviews will see this as well:
The alert stays in place for 90 days!  How much damage would that do to your bottom line if it stayed in place for 90 days?
Just in case that’s not enough, the FTC is involved also, and has a set of regulations dealing with endorsements and testimonials.  So compensating reviewers and showing atypical results as typical are now illegal, in addition to potentially getting you in trouble with review sites.

The Bottom Line

Don’t write your own reviews, tell your employees to not review the company, and don’t give any incentives to your customers to review you!  And if you have posted phony reviews, consider removing them before they are discovered.  It’s OK to ask a customer to review you.  My customers have a way to ask only happy customers to review them, and that’s OK too.  But don’t try to fool people who are working hard to not be fooled, who will make you pay–really pay–if they catch you.  How did you like it?
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