19 Companies Are Fined By State Of NY For Fake Yelp Reviews
“Astroturfing” or Fake Yelp Reviews? Say it ain’t so. Yes. If there is a way to manipulate the internet and internet marketing world we can be sure that someone will try. And according to this ABC News report.
Approximately 3% of online reviews are written by companies hired to write fake reviews
ABC News Fake Yelp Reviews Report
Is it just me or does that 17 year old girl look far to happy about being exposed on National TV for getting paid to lie?
Why Is The State Of NY Involved
Eric T. Scheiderman, the NY attorney general says “What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”
It is also reported that many more states are currently involved in their own sting operation.
Black Hat SEO
I have written a couple times in the past, and begged my clients, to not get involved in this type of behavior. Yes, it is possible to artificially boost your search rankings and online reviews, this is called Black Hat SEO.
Using deceptive or manipulative practices that are not within the guidelines of the website to artificially boost a companies rankings or ratings.
I knew that if caught your positive reviews would be removed, or worse, your company would be removed. I had no idea that it would become a Government matter with heavy fines involved.
Many of the companies that are listed in the case are what are called “reputation-enhancement firms.” or SEO companies.
There is a section in the report called: “Undercover Investigation of “Search Engine Optimization” Companies”
In recent years, the reputation management industry has exploded as businesses have become increasingly concerned about their online reputations. So-called search engine optimization (“SEO”) companies routinely offer online reputation management as part of their services.
The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spoofing techniques to hide their identities, as well as setting up hundreds of bogus online profiles on consumer review websites to post the reviews. The investigation found that many consumer-review websites have implemented filters to detect and filter or delete fake reviews, with Yelp’s being the most aggressive. (source: search engine roundtable)
This is not SEO as I see and practice it. This is deception.
Getting Positive Yelp Reviews is primarily about offering an amazing product or service, with amazing customer service. Then reminding your clients that you are on Yelp and would love for them to share their experience. It is not about hiring someone to tell people that.