How do I deal with my competitor's fake Google Plus reviews?
April 29, 2014 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I own a small business and my competitors are writing up glowing reviews about themselves...

While a lot of my customers come from word-of-mouth. A healthy portion of my new business comes from "Google Places for Business". (non-paid search)

One problem I'm having at the moment is dealing with my competitor's fake Google Plus reviews. In the last 3 months, two competitor firms have now resorted to writing up fake reviews on a weekly basis. I have a very strong suspicion that these reviews are fake because each "reviewer" only seems to ever write ONE review, where everything was perfect and always gives the business 5 stars! The style of writing in each review is also similar.

If they continue down this path of systematically writing fake (but favorable) reviews about themselves, I feel that I am going to lose some valuable business. It is only human nature to assume that the business with the most reviews is the best or safest choice.

So what do you suggest that I do? Report them Google? Join them and start writing reviews for my own business? Or, need I not worry? Does the average consumer have enough savvy to spot fake reviews?
posted by jacobean to Work & Money (4 answers total)
1) Flag the fake reviews. (Instructions)

2) DO NOT write (or hire others to write) fake reviews. Ever. Period.

3) Encourage positive, real reviews through promotions or rewards.

Ex: Review us on Google+ or Yelp and get 10% off!
Ex: Did you know we're on Google+ and Yelp? Review us!
Ex: Have great service? Tell others on Google+
Ex: Review us on Google and be entered to win ___

4) Always respond to both positive and negative reviews on any of your sites.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2014 [12 favorites]

You can actually report fake Google reviews to Google. Google takes it really seriously.

On the other hand, this tactic will most definitely come back to bite your competitors in the ass, because Google's algorithm is smart enough to detect fake reviews, and will perhaps penalize your competitor.

It's also likely not even your competitor at all, but a marketing company they have contracted; your competitor may not even know about it (so you might think of telling them).

Finally, customers are smart enough to determine which reviews are fake, and which are the real thing, and if your competitors are themselves posting these fake reviews, it's likely the quality of their product or service is also going to be pretty bad.

What you need to consider doing is posting more on Google Plus (by merging your local page with a verified G+ page) to provide more personality and presence.

You need to blog, in order to ideally show in search results on the front page.

You need to use social media, because optimized social media profiles rocket up to the front page of search (if you have a product, try using Tumblr, because Google loves it).

The purpose is to dominate the front page with quality, so these scammers get pushed down to the second page.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:46 PM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Report the fakes; do not write your own fake reviews; encourage your customers to write glowing reviews. If I was your customer, and you did a good job, and then you told me about what those other guys did, it would make me angry enough to go give you a good review.

Engaging in astroturfing, either pro-yourself or anti-your competition, is a good way to bring down all sorts of wrath from various sources that you don't want to deal with. Take the high road.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:03 PM on April 29, 2014

Do NOT incentivize reviews! It can backfire big time. Google it and see why. It is reasonable to ask your clients if they are completely happy with your service. If they aren't, make em happy. If they are, ask them to please consider whether or not they would be willing to review your business on the site of their choosing.
posted by jcworth at 7:52 AM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

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