The Risky Review Schemes That Could Sink Your Business

Considering paying for reviews, getting friends and family to leave reviews, or even a ‘review swap’? Snap out of it! Google Gold Product Expert Jason Brown is here to explain how these schemes could ending up tanking your reviews, and offers some legitimate and proven tactics to generate reviews as alternatives.

Every business wants to increase the number of online reviews that they have. Whether the goal is to have more reviews than the competition, to repair your overall rating or simply to rank in or higher in the map pack, every business is looking into ways to get reviews. But you need to be smart about your strategy or you may find yourself renting reviews.

If Google catches you running an illegal review scheme, and they will, they will delete all of your reviews connected to the review scheme. The FTC also regulates online reviews. Google follows suit and has made review contests a violation of their Terms of Service. Before you stop reading this and say “I won’t get caught,” you need to know that Google receives multiple reports of review schemes every day. Your business could be next.

As a Google My Business Gold Product Expert (formerly the Top Contributor program), I answer business owner’s questions and advise individuals on how to navigate Google My Business issues. On a daily basis, I watch as business after business gets reported for ill-gotten reviews. I’ve seen reports made by marketing professionals, competitors, disgruntled employees, and upset customers.

There is more potential to get caught than there is to hide forever. If you’re like me, and spy on your competition to see what they’re up to, the chances are that one of your many competitors or their marketing company is spying on or monitoring your business.

Review Schemes to Avoid

Review Contests

Review contests are very popular and extremely illegal. The premise of this scheme is to enter the reviewer into a giveaway once they leave a review. I see this a lot with dentists and orthodontists. One dentist ran their review contest twice and both times they were reported to Google.

It doesn’t matter if you say any reviewer can qualify to enter (rather than just positive reviews), the fact that you are offering an incentive for the review violates Google’s TOS and so they will negate the contest.

Get Reviews on Google

The dentist in question more than likely received an email from Google advising them to stop the practice, which says “Please note that it is against Google My Business policies to offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor.”

Google Review Email

I would bet that this email was in the process of being sent as the dentist set up the second review contest.

Discounted or Free Services

You cannot offer a reviewer any discount on services or products in exchange for reviews. One business I’m aware of offered all of their customers a 10% savings on their next purchase for leaving a review, so Google went and deleted two years’ worth of reviews.

I’ve also seen a thread where a business thanked everyone with a free drink after leaving a review. Google deleted over 400 reviews. Those 400 individuals still kept their free drink after their reviews were deleted by Google.

Review Swaps

I see review swaps the most in the legal niche. A review swap is basically where “you review me” and “I’ll review you”. I see it a lot when looking at a GMB listings for lawyers. One reviewer, who is also a lawyer, left reviews for several lawyers in different states.

Google’s TOS states, “Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings.”

Prohibited and Restricted Content

Review swaps:

a) don’t reflect a genuine experience

b) are posted to manipulate the ratings

When Google sees reports of these types of reviews, they delete them.

Asking Your Friends and Family for Reviews

This is the worst advice out there and it needs to be stopped. As I stated in ‘review swaps’ above, your friends and family reviews are posted to manipulate your ratings.

I see this a lot: a GMB listing has 7 reviews, all posted 8 months ago, and new reviews ever get posted. Potential customers want to see fresh and relevant reviews. Customers want to know how the business currently is and not how they were a year ago.

In their most recent Local Consumer Review Survey, BrightLocal found that 77% of consumers think that online reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant.

Review-gating

Review-gating is not a new policy, but Google has just reiterated their stance on this practice. Review-gating is when a customer fills out a survey and, if they score high enough, they are asked to post a review online, but if the customer scores the business too low, they are asked to provide private feedback only.

When Google receives reports of businesses review-gating, they delete all of their reviews (not just the ones deemed to violate TOS). Your reputation management tool provider doesn’t get dinged, the business’ GMB listing does. They keep your money while all of your reviews are deleted and gone forever.

Remember that you can’t stop an upset customer from posting negative feedback online. They will find a way to share their experience online. You also need negative feedback so that you can grow and improve your business, and also to make your review profile more believable. (100+ 5-star reviews? Something’s up there.).

Receiving reviews is like going to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor will tell you all the positives and the areas you need to improve upon. If your doctor doesn’t inform you that you need to lower your cholesterol, they are doing you a disservice. You also can’t completely stop an upset customer from sharing their feedback. If they are upset enough, they might report you to Google.

What to Do Instead

All of the above review schemes simply don’t work long-term. While they may have quick results, they merely open up your business to a possible fine from the FTC and review deletion from Google.

Google will and does email businesses involved in illegal review schemes. This is not the attention you want from Google. If you give away a television or an iPad to solicit reviews and Google deletes all of your reviews, you’ll realize you just rented reviews for a short time. It would have been cheaper to sign up for BrightLocal’s new Reputation Management tool.

If an iPad costs $329 USD and BrightLocal’s reputation tool costs $8 USD, a business could safely request reviews for 41 months. That is almost 2 years’ worth of legitimate Google My Business reviews that will remain and won’t be deleted by Google.

When it comes to reviews, I tell all new brick and mortar businesses that they should be getting 5 to 10 new reviews per month. This really isn’t that hard if you train your staff to listen to your customers. If a customer says how great the service is, ask them to share that feedback online and leave your business a Google review.

If a business gets 10 customers a day, that’s 50 to 70 people per week. The odds are in your favor to get at least one of those customers to leave you a review online. It’s the law of averages and it will work out in your favor. You and your staff just need to ask.

You can run a contest among your employees to see who can get the most reviews. This can also get your employees to start focusing more on their customer service skills and the level of service they provide. After all, how are you going to get a review if you don’t ask for it?

Don’t Be Afraid of Negative Reviews

Reviews are about the customer experience. They should never be looked at as “I need X amount of reviews to rank higher, have more reviews than my competitor or to repair my reputation”. That’s the incorrect thinking businesses have when it comes to reviews and that thinking is a recipe for disaster.

If you have a “5 stars or bust” mentality, then when your business gets that one negative review (and it will) it will really upset you. I often see business owners get very distraught over one negative review. They plead their case on the Google My Business forum on how:

  • it’s not fair
  • we have nothing but 5-star reviews
  • it’s not a customer
  • we have no record of the person
  • it has to be a competitor

…and so they respond in a rude and unprofessional manner to the review publicly.

A negative review is an opportunity to plead your case and get the customer to contact you to resolve the complaint. Google notifies the reviewer of your reply too.

The goal of your reply is to persuade the user to contact you and work out a resolution. As consumers are reading more reviews, they are also reading the replies to reviews.  If you sound angry in your reply, it will do more harm than good, and that reviewer will not contact you to resolve the issue.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that your business needs customers to stay in business. If you’re not monitoring your reviews and replying in a polite and professional manner, your potential customers will go elsewhere.

You need to take a deep and serious look at your reviews and address any areas customers are not happy with. One business I have been monitoring for two years officially closed in October 2018. They never addressed the underlying causes of their negative reviews. Instead, they focused on a review scheme to combat the negative reviews. It didn’t work the restaurant wasn’t saved.

Review schemes will not work for your business either. To quote my favorite line from the movie Shawshank Redemption,

“get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Only you can save your business. Will you?

Jason Brown is SEO Manager at Over The Top Marketing and a Top Contributor on the Google My Business forum. He spends his free time battling fake online business reviews. He can be found on Twitter @keyserholiday.

The post The Risky Review Schemes That Could Sink Your Business appeared first on BrightLocal.

VIDEO: How to Win More Customers With a 5-star Reputation Strategy

As part of the Local Marketing Institute‘s Local Business Marketing Summit earlier this year, I had the pleasure of sharing my tips for developing an effective reputation management strategy. Take a look at the video below for the whole recording, or read on for a summary.

I love what reputation can do for a business. When used correctly it can be a huge aid to driving more visibility and customers to your business. A powerful online reputation is a great form of social proof, and can inform potential consumers as well as business partners and suppliers.

This presentation has two parts to it: first I’ll demonstrate the impact of reviews, then I’ll go into best practices for managing reviews.

Demonstrating the Impact of Reviews

Key findings of the Online Reputation Management Survey:

  • 100% said that reputation is important / very important to their business
  • 77% said that reputation management is a high or very high priority
  • 17% of respondents’ time is spent on reputation management (avg)
  • What’s stopping you doing more to manage your reputation?
    • Not enough time (50%)
    • Not enough budget (27%)
    • It’s too complex (14%)

A positive reputation improves search rankings

The Local SEO Ranking Factors Study shows that a large proportion of the most critical local rankings factors are tied to reviews.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Source: Local SEO Guide

What this tells us is that the businesses that are ranking highest in Google local have good reviews and ratings in Google.

A positive reputation improves search click-through rates

A study performed by BrightLocal in 2016 shows that positive reviews increase CTR by 22%.

A positive reputation boosts landing page conversion

The BrightLocal Landing Page Performance Study shows that reviews increase trust by 11% and that positive ratings increase the likelihood of a consumer contacting a business by 12%.

A positive reputation builds customer trust

Key findings from BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey:

  • 93% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use a business

Best Practices for Managing Your Reputation

Firstly, run a good business! If you run a business that doesn’t care about its customers, you can’t paper over the cracks and try to build a good reputation.

Here’s an effective review strategy that can work for both single-location and multi-location businesses.

The 6-pillar Review Strategy

1. Set clear targets

How many reviews you should aim for depends on your business type and how competitive your industry and location are, but ultimately you need enough reviews to convince a consumer to trust you. Put yourself in their shoes. If you saw a business with just three reviews, would you trust it?

You also need enough reviews to convince Google to trust you. You should get enough reviews so you stand parallel to or above your competitors. Read our recent Google Reviews Study for help benchmarking your business against competitors in your industry.

Look at your local competitors in Google, and see what reviews and ratings they’ve got. Use these to set your targets. You can use BrightLocal’s Local Search Results Checker to see local rankings.

The more reviews you have, the greater the social proof, so you can never have too many reviews. But given that you’ll be balancing the time and investment with the return on those reviews, it’s worth bearing in mind two things.

Firstly, the law of diminishing returns applies here, where going from 0 to 50 reviews will be hugely beneficial, but the next 50 won’t have quite as much impact.

But on the flipside, review ‘freshness’ is important. The Local Consumer Reviews Survey shows that 77% of consumers think that reviews left longer than three months ago are not relevant.

So when you think about your targets, remember that you need monthly, incremental changes. This helps to build reviews over time. You can steamroller competitors with a strategy that actually delivers.

2. Develop a process to generate new reviews

Ask customers to review you. Remember that 93% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, so they’ll likely already be aware of your reviews. It’s not going to be an alien concept for them.

According to our research, 69% of consumers will leave a review if asked to. That means if you ask ten people to review you, seven should do it.

Make asking for reviews part of the service process. Remember that timing is key, too. You should ask when customer satisfaction is at its highest. Don’t leave it a month to ask for a review, as they’ll have cooled off and either leave a less positive review or be a lot less likely to review your business.

Asking for a review at the point of service effectively nets you a verbal commitment. You can then follow up with an email or SMS message. You can do this part easily with BrightLocal’s new Reputation Manager tool.

3. Select the best review sites

Using too many review sites will dilute reviews, so for the average local business, three or four sites should do it.

To start with, focus on Google and Facebook, then look for other suitable review sites. Do a Google search for keywords related to your business and see which review sites are appearing high in search. These are the sites Google thinks are particularly relevant to the work you do, and will be getting a fair amount of traffic.

Also look at the ‘Reviews from the web’ section of the Google Knowledge Panel for competitors and businesses like yours. Where these reviews come from may inspire you to add more sites to your list.

There are lots of highly relevant, niche review sites for different industries (dentists, doctors, lawyers, for example). These niche sites are likely to be frequented by those at the end of their research phase, people you definitely want to get your reviews in front of. They also have the benefit of allowing a far higher level of detail in your listing.

BrightLocal has a list of 300+ Niche Review Sites, separated by industry, that you can use to help you decide which sites to focus on.

4. Train and incentivize staff

This is the part that businesses tend to fail in. It’s not good enough to just tell your staff to get more reviews. You need to help your staff understand the significance of reviews, and how social proof can help you win new customers.

You can put it in terms they can relate to. For example, more customers equals more revenue, stronger business, and better job security. One way to highlight this is by using reviews to increase job satisfaction. At BrightLocal, we share our great reviews with everyone in the business via a Slack channel, and it reminds them how appreciated their work is. It brings everyone together and even helps with employee retention.

For individual staff members, you can make generating reviews worth their while, in a monetary sense. While you can’t incentivize reviews from customers, there’s nothing stopping you incentivizing your workforce to generate them.

5. Leverage your reputation

You can use reviews across lots of consumer touchpoints to influence how they feel about you. Your reputation is therefore incredibly portable. Here are a few places you could use it:

  • Landing Pages. Display a feed of reviews, create a dedicated reviews page or link out to profiles on third-party sites.
  • Contact Pages. Add reviews and testimonials to key customer contact points.
  • Schema Markup. Mark up ‘native’ reviews (rather than third-party reviews) with schema to bring star rating into SERPs.
  • Twitter and Facebook. Pin and promote tweets containing your best reviews.
  • Google Posts. Balance your more promotional posts with social proof like reviews and testimonials.
  • Email Marketing. Include review site logos and star ratings to get better traction and a higher response rate with your emails.
  • Display and Re-targeting Ads. Featuring review stars can build up trust before the consumer has even clicked the ad.
  • Leaflets, Flyers and Business Cards. Your reputation doesn’t just have to live online. Bring it into the real world by including the fruits of your reputation management on your printed promotional materials.

6. Use reputation management tools

There are lots of good reasons to invest in reputation management software if you’re planning on taking your online reviews seriously. Automation saves you time and money, and removes the complexity of reputation management.

The key features of a good Reputation Management tool include*:

  • Ability to monitor all reviews from all sites in a single report
  • Review response function for the most important review sites
  • Customer feedback system
  • Process to get more reviews through automated email and SMS
  • Ability to get more reviews on a branded web page
  • Review showcasing functionality for your website and social media

*BrightLocal’s Reputation Manager allows you to do all this from $8 a month!

Conclusion

I hope that I’ve demonstrated the importance of online reviews and shown that an effective reputation management strategy doesn’t have to stressful to implement. If you have any questions about our Reputation Manager tool, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks again to Eric Shanfelt and Riker Jones of the Local Marketing Institute for facilitating this great summit!

The post VIDEO: How to Win More Customers With a 5-star Reputation Strategy appeared first on BrightLocal.

Guidelines for the Top Local Review Sites: Rules from Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more Explained

We’ll be updating this page as and when guidelines change, so be sure to bookmark!

Every year, the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey shows us just how important reviews are for local businesses. Of all the data, one statistic stands out in particular: 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. This figure is up 16% since the question was first asked back in 2010.

Reviews aren’t just important for consumers, either. They are growing in importance as a ranking signal, too, and as a result, more local businesses than ever before are acquiring reviews. Our recent Google Reviews Study makes it incredibly clear that local businesses are being much more proactive about gathering reviews.

Our research showed that on average, a local business will have around 39 reviews, with those ranked top three in the local pack edging ahead with an average of 47 reviews. All told, 74% of local businesses now have Google reviews.

Of course, there are a multitude of review platforms to consider as a business owner, and this, coupled with the fact that they are so intrinsically linked to local business success, means lots of companies have started to get creative about how they request reviews from customers.

Where an email might once have been the standard, today a variety of methods are used, including postcards, SMS messages, in-store and point of sale displays, giveaways and, yes, email.

However, what you can and can’t do to obtain reviews, and what those reviews can and can’t say, differs between platforms. Get it wrong and the punishment meted out to your business can be harsh.

To help you stay on the right side of the rules, we’ve compiled a cheat-sheet which covers each of the major review platforms—what is and isn’t allowed and what the likely consequences are if you’re guilty of breaching the regulations. We’ll update it every time a review platform introduces new guidelines.

Click below to jump between sections:

Google Reviews Guidelines

Google offers a fairly detailed list of what it does and doesn’t accept from both businesses and reviewers—most fall under the ‘Prohibited and Restricted Content’ guidelines but it’s also introduced key elements to its ‘Format Specific Criteria’ rules to outlaw practices such as review gating.

No review gating

Review gating is a newer addition to Google’s Review guidelines and means that local businesses can’t use a third-party tool to filter out negative reviews. In the past, brands have been able to cherry-pick positive reviews by using software to funnel customers who say they have had a negative experience towards private feedback, and those indicating a positive experience to a public review platform like Google. This of course creates a false impression of the business and skews reviews, making them less useful to other customers.

As of summer 2018, this practice is no longer permitted, with Google guidelines stating:

“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

Don’t review your own business

Reviews are intended to be honest and unbiased accounts of genuine customer experiences, therefore reviewing your own business (or asking staff to review your business by posing as a customer) is against Google Review guidelines.

Don’t review competitors

Google considers “posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings” to be a conflict of interest. It’s also a means of black hat SEO and unethical—Google doesn’t say in its guidelines what the penalty is if you’re found to be guilty of this violation but, at the very least, the review in question will be removed.

At the more severe end of the scale, it’s possible that your website may be subjected to a Google penalty, which will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on your online visibility and, by extension, your website traffic and overall sales figures.

Don’t offer or accept money in exchange for reviews

You can’t incentivize customers to leave a review for your business by offering to pay them to do so. This obviously creates an environment where the reviewer is more likely to leave a glowing review, undermining the entire concept of fair and honest feedback.

Again, Google doesn’t spell out what the penalty for violating this rule is, but penalties and even banishment from Google My Business aren’t out of the question, depending on the seriousness of the infringement.

Don’t solicit reviews from customers in bulk

While this is against Google guidelines, it’s also just bad practice, as a local business needs to have a steady stream of genuine reviews rather than a bulk influx every six months.

With this rule, you can’t send a mass email to your entire mailing list requesting a review. Again, Google’s focus here is on ensuring reviews are accurate and genuine. A mass mailout can’t guarantee accuracy given that some recipients may have purchased from you years ago.

While it might be tempting to try and bolster your review count in one swift move, being consistent about requesting reviews as a transaction is completed ensures they are more authentic, useful and accurate.

Yelp Reviews Guidelines

Yelp’s position is very similar to Google’s: it outlaws inappropriate content, promotional content, relevance, conflicts of interest and payment for or solicitation of reviews in its guidelines for business owners.

Don’t solicit reviews or offer to pay for them

Yelp says asking customers to leave a review on Yelp specifically, or encouraging customers to do so with an offer of payment, flies in the face of its policies. Its review guidelines advise,

“Please don’t ask your customers to review your business on Yelp. Over time, solicited reviews create bias on your business page — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. You should also never offer compensation (discounts and freebies count too) in exchange for reviews.”

Solicitation is a big deal for Yelp. It has two dedicated pages to tackle why this is a no-no, with an overview on its support centre and a full blog post dedicated to the topic in its newsroom.

In brief, it says that payment can encourage a reviewer to leave a false or misleading review when such praise may not be genuinely deserved. It says that solicitation, while an integral part of the online reputation process, can lead some businesses to be aggressive about gaining reviews and can create a bias, with some local businesses asking for reviews and others not. According to Yelp, this skews perceptions for consumers.

What happens if you contravene this guideline?

If you do specifically request that your customers leave a review on Yelp, the platform may take action against you. It says,

“Yelp does not want businesses to ask their customers to write reviews and our recommendation software actively targets reviews that have been solicited.”

Yelp says its software can and does recognize where a review has been solicited, and as a result, will treat those reviews as less trustworthy. They will be removed to the ‘not recommended’ portion of your Yelp page and won’t be counted towards your Yelp star rating.

Conflicts of interest

It is against Yelp guidelines to write a review of your own business, ask an employee to review you or to leave a poor review for a competitor. It also says that you shouldn’t review a business belonging to a relative or a friend, as this doesn’t lend itself to fairness or objectivity.

Facebook Reviews and Recommendations Guidelines

Facebook is one of the fastest growing review platforms, second only to Google, despite its organic algorithm falling out of favor with local businesses thanks to stinted reach.

It has recently switched from reviews to ‘recommendations’ which are geared towards a simple yes/no answer rather than the traditional star and comment format. Consumers can leave rich endorsements with their recommendation, which include text and images as well as the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ choice.

Spam

Facebook’s Community Standards include a ‘no spam’ rule and the company says it works hard to suppress commercial spam. As part of this policy, it outlaws false advertising and fraud, meaning that if you pay others to create false recommendations for your business, or encourage staff and family members to leave fake rich endorsements, you’ll be in breach of these terms of use.

Misrepresentation

Facebook has a specific Authenticity policy which sets out requirements for users to only create a Facebook account with their true identity. Your Facebook account must be “the name you go by in real life”. Likewise, this policy prohibits users creating multiple accounts, giving a false date of birth, creating an inauthentic profile or “engaging in inauthentic behavior”.

This policy, among other things, effectively prohibits you from creating multiple accounts under various aliases to give fake recommendations to your business. Likewise, you can’t ask other people to create a second account to give you an additional recommendation.

Incentivized Reviews

Under its Pages, Groups and Events policy, Facebook states “Pages, groups and events must not incentivize people to misuse Facebook features or functionality.” The example used to illustrate this is encouraging users to give a false review in return for free products.

TripAdvisor Reviews Guidelines

TripAdvisor has historically been very tough on how its business users acquire reviews, and therefore has an extensive series of guidelines which businesses must follow.

Unlike Yelp, TripAdvisor does not penalize businesses for asking customers to review their experience on its platform. In fact, it encourages businesses to ask for TripAdvisor reviews and says that recent reviews are more beneficial in its popularity ranking calculations.

The platform goes as far as to provide a number of free tools to help businesses reach out to guests for a TripAdvisor review. These tools include pre-designed custom reminder cards, flyers, a review collection tool called Review Express, a widget and a Facebook app.

However it has strict policies against incentivized reviews and a dedicated team of fraud investigators which tackles paid review fraud (a crime that can result in jail time) including the buying and selling of fake reviews.

Paid review fraud

TripAdvisor states,

“The buying or selling of fake reviews—known as paid review fraud—is not only dishonest, but also illegal in many countries. Fortunately, because of our highly evolved detection and deterrent techniques, the amount of fraud attempted on TripAdvisor is extremely small. We take any attempts at review fraud very seriously, and with over 15 years’ experience, we are the industry leaders at catching it.”

It can be tempting to buy a few fake reviews in order to bolster your TripAdvisor rating, especially as newer reviews count more towards your popularity score. A number of companies do offer paid reviews, but as TripAdvisor notes, this is an illegal practice in a number of countries and can result in the person being paid to review being handed a prison sentence.

If you do feel tempted to break this guideline and buy reviews for your hotel or hospitality business, TripAdvisor says that it can distinguish between a genuine submission and a purchased review, and can automatically trigger an investigation from this.

The platform works with third party sites and advertising services to track down companies selling reviews and will even go undercover, pretending to be a hotel owner, for example, to gather evidence. If the fraud team detects paid reviews on your listing or detects suspicious activity, it will approach you to gather more information.

The paid reviewer’s account will be blacklisted from TripAdvisor and your own account and business profile may be marked with a red badge. This is the most severe form of punishment and warns TripAdvisor uses that a pattern of suspicious review behavior has been detected; a warning which can seriously negatively impact your reputation and business.

Other punishments include a loss of rankings in TripAdvisor searches and disqualifications from TripAdvisor awards.

Incentivized reviews

Offering a reward or preferential treatment to a guest in order to secure a TripAdvisor review will land you in hot water. This policy also prevents you from entering customers into a draw or any kind of raffle after they post a TripAdvisor review for your business, offering a reduced rate or discount on a future stay in return for a review, promising an upgrade or free use of any paid-for facilities as thanks for leaving a TripAdvisor review.

TripAdvisor monitors for incentivized reviews in a number of ways, including direct reports from the community, the investigations of its dedicated review fraud team and screening technology.

If you are found to be in breach of these guidelines, the reviews in question will be removed from your TripAdvisor profile and you will be disqualified from TripAdvisor awards. In some cases, depending on the severity of the breach, additional penalties including a red warning badge being displayed on your profile may also be meted out.

Biased reviews and blackmail

Paid and incentivized reviews also fall under TripAdvisor’s biased reviews policy. Any action on the part of a guest to blackmail a business with the threat of a bad review is also considered to be biased, as is any review posted by someone affiliated with the business (such as a family member, friend or employee). TripAdvisor calls this practice ‘review boosting’.

If the tracking system spots a biased review, that review will not be published and an investigation will be opened.

 

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