When you look at a website like Amazon.com, you’ll see that customers post reviews about the products they purchase. There are both positive and negative reviews, which make the comments seem more authentic compared to having only positive reviews. This is because everyone has a different experience with the same product. Many products receive only positive reviews when the satisfaction level is very high, and it does not mean that the reviews are suspicious. In any case, new customers often base their buying decisions on the reviews left by previous customers. Products that have mainly positive reviews end up converting much better than those with mainly negative reviews, while at the same time helping to improve ranking in local search results.
Does your website allow your customers to post reviews on the items that they purchase from you? If yes, then you are already on track to getting more sales, especially if the reviews are positive. But what if you have very few reviews or none at all? How can you gain more reviews online? Well, there are a number of ways in which that can be achieved, like:
Requesting reviews from customers (immediately after purchase or as a follow-up)
Rewarding customers for providing reviews
Duplication of review content
Writing fake reviews or publishing reviews under a false profile
Let’s briefly consider the pros and cons of each method:
Requesting Reviews from Customers
This is by far the simplest way to get reviews. Placing a form on your product pages that allows your customers to leave reviews makes the process very easy. You can ask for the review (1) immediately after purchase or (2) later on after they have tried your product. The latter is more effective because the customers would be able to provide authentic reviews since they have already tried your product. Requesting a review immediately after purchase may result in a “false positive” comment since they have not had a chance to test your product so as to be able to create an informed review. Unless the review can be altered, this would not give a true indication of the value of your product to potential customers.
Rewarding Customers for Providing Reviews
This tactic should be avoided at all costs. Incentivizing your customers for online reviews is very tempting indeed, but Google does not allow such a practice. If you engage in such a practice, your website may be penalized and removed from search results. What tends to happen when customers are rewarded for reviews is that the results become skewed and false impressions about the product are left on your site. This leads to a loss of credibility of reviews posted on your site and can end up permanently damaging your reputation.
Duplication of Review Content
This is another bad SEO practice. Reviews are supposed to be original, so reposting them on other sites constitutes duplication of content that Google strictly prohibits. For the time being, many businesses are getting away with the practice, but Google will soon find them and weed them out of their search database. While it may be easier to simply duplicate review content, you run the risk of eventually being removed from search results, meaning that people will no longer be able to find your website.
Writing Fake Reviews or Publishing Reviews Under a False Profile
Publishing fake reviews or making reviews under a false profile is an underhanded practice that must be avoided at all costs. Such reviews are of benefit to no one. A number of websites have “reviews” from different people that, when you take a careful look at them, seem very suspicious. In most cases, these reviews are always positive and include terms like “this is a great product,” “it’s a must have for everyone,” “the best product ever,” and so on. The trend here is that the “reviews” have only a few words and the names of the people who post them are common names like Tom, Paul, Peter, and Sarah. It’s not hard to identify fake reviews, and when people do they will veer away from your website, never to return.
How Prevalent Are These Ways of Getting Reviews?
In a recent 2015 poll conducted by BrightLocal on 227 anonymous users on their site, most of whom were consultants and SEO agencies, when asked if they participated in selected actions to boost online reviews, 61% asked customers for reviews, 14% rewarded customers for reviews, 10% placed duplicate content on their own site, 5% asked customers to provide a review from the store, 3% syndicated reviews to multiple sites, 3% wrote fake reviews, and 3% published reviews under false profiles. Though the results are from only a small number of agencies and consultants, it does reflect the overall way in which the majority of merchants acquire online reviews.
In order to stay above the waters and out of Google’s black book, it is best to avoid underhanded practices for getting more reviews. The best strategy is to provide a section on your site where your customers can post reviews without any form of coercion, if they want to. In most cases, you can request that they provide the review after using your product so as to make it more authentic. By using these above-board techniques, you will get more reviews online from willing and satisfied customers, which could mean even more sales for you in the future!
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