While content marketing and SEO are necessary for improving your business, there are activities on other websites that can bring revenue to your organization as well. Search engines are now rewarding websites that have positive reviews, like those on Yelp, Google Business, and Angie’s List.
This has led to many businesses gaming the system, trying to write fake reviews and build up their overall rating. We at Great Leap Studios do not encourage creating fake reviews. Gaming the system can have a backlash, and it’s far more important to promote your business on Yelp and Google Business and encourage real reviews from real people.
But if you’re determined to make fake Yelp reviews for your business, you need to do it right. Nearly every company that writes a fake Yelp review makes the same basic mistakes – mistakes that are easy to avoid.
Fake Yelp Review Mistakes
I used to be an avid Yelper, and continue to write reviews when I have the time. There are two reasons that fake Yelp reviews simply don’t work. First, Yelpers often get upset about fake reviews and may flag your business, ignore real positive reviews, or write a negative review for backlash. Second, the Yelp algorithm is very powerful, and almost all fake reviews get filtered out. You’re both wasting your time and possibly turning off people that can tell your reviews are fake.
Don’t write fake reviews, but if you are going to write fake reviews, don’t make the same basic mistakes that other businesses make. These include:
- Referring to the Business Owner By Name – One of the silliest mistakes is this tendency for fake reviewers to refer to the business owner by name. No one refers to someone in the business by name. It simply doesn’t happen. I have read hundreds of fake reviews where the individual states “The owner, John Smith, was very helpful’ or “Sarah was a dream to work with.” People don’t say this. There are a few home service industries where someone may use a name, and occasionally a waiter or two will be listed by name, but it’s uncommon.
- Unusually Professional Rave Reviews – I want to quote a couple of fake reviews from a Podcast on iTunes (not on Yelp, but still relevant): “There’s no fluff here. These guys get right into it…” “No exaggeration, I made 3 breakthroughts today. Great insights.” “Let me get right to the point… these guys keep it real. No jive, just straight information…” Can you see how over the top this type of writing is? People do this on Yelp reviews too, saying things like “Bob is a no-nonsense straight talker.” It’s so over the top, and reads like a fake testimonial.
- Multiple Reviews in a Day – Back in 2010 I received terrible customer service from a cleaning company. I was also their first review, and their only review for about 7 months. So for about 7 months they had a very low rating. Then, all of the sudden, the owner found it and was very upset. She organized over a dozen people to write fake Yelp reviews all in one day to combat my bad rating. Of course she was found out, because having only one review for 7 months and then 13 reviews out of nowhere isn’t the best strategy.
- Single Review Accounts – If you are going to try to game Yelp, starting a bunch of brand new accounts and leaving a single review isn’t the best strategy. People don’t sign up for Yelp and immediately leave a rave review for their real estate agent or landscaper. It simply doesn’t happen. If you are going to leave fake Yelp reviews, then you need to make sure you’re going to actually use those accounts a bit, otherwise you’re going to get caught.
- Same Style and Repetition – Make sure you’re not saying the same things over and over again or writing in the same style. Most people on Yelp are terrible writers. Some are good writers. Some write single sentences, others write novels. Some make jokes, others make bad jokes. Not everyone talks about the same thing or talks about it in the same way. Not everyone gives 5 stars either, even for businesses that they like. If all of your Yelp reviews are the same, it’s going to be obvious.
Again, don’t write fake business Yelp reviews. It’s easy, and it sounds like it makes sense, but there is more downside then upside. Ideally, you should have your customers review your business for you, and you can offer them a discount, refund, or coupon if they do.
But if you’re determined to write a fake review, don’t make the same mistakes that thousands of other businesses made before you. Otherwise the backlash may be worse than the benefit.