Having an abundance of online reviews has become a goal for many businesses lately. Of course, they also need to be good reviews. Since many people don’t often take the time to voice pleasant experiences online, it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge to get legitimate, helpful reviews without breaking the rules.

The Rules of Reviews

The “rules” regarding online reviews have been rather unspoken until now. But since reviews have become such a competitive factor in business, everyone is grasping to get good reviews on their name to attract attention and also contradictory negative reviews they may have accumulated over the years.

It Just Doesn’t Pay to Be Fake

The goal of racking up more and more reviews from happy people has created a real problem. Businesses are faking it. They’re essentially offering pay or other rewards to people who post positive reviews about their company.

Recently, the New York Attorney General investigated nearly twenty SEO companies who were all publishing fake reviews to promote businesses they represent online. They’re likely regretting their unethical practices now since they have all been fined up to $100,000 and told they need to find another way to run this part of their business (minus the fake reviews).

Just like the world we live in, the world of SEO has good guys and bad guys. The bad ones have been relying on people, who often live in foreign countries like Bangladesh and the Philippines, to create fake profiles and fake reviews for as little as $1 per review. Through doing so they have falsified information on popular and highly relied upon sites such as Yelp, Google and other local search sites.

People have come to trust what they see on these sites even if it isn’t real. The fact that there are so many fake reviews actually minimizes the effectiveness of the real, unsolicited ones. That’s why companies like Yelp are backing up the crackdown on fakers. Users are logging in and making decisions based on what they see there. That puts some pressure on Yelp to make sure that they’re hosting information that’s as real as possible. Even though they can’t possibly control who posts comments on their social site, they can discourage fakes by making it harder to create fake profiles and support law enforcement agencies that aim to punish fakers by fine and other means.

Be Real and the Reviews Will Come

Even if you were raised by wolves, you were likely brought up knowing that being yourself is always the best way to live. If you act like something you’re not, you’re a fake! And nobody likes a fake. When it comes to your daily life or your reputation on local business directories, it’s always best to gain support organically. And, after all, you wouldn’t pay your friends to say nice things about you to others (we hope) so don’t do it online either.

Recruiting fake reviews is at the top of the list these days when it comes to unethical business practices. Don’t put yourself in this category. Reviews are helpful to getting new patients in the door, but getting fake reviews is not worth compromising your reputation. Make sure your SEO company has good business practices and isn’t pulling you down with them.