Customer reviews have become an integral part of online businesses. Positive reviews can boost sales and brand image of a business while negative reviews can have the opposite effect. Google reviews are one of the most important reviews that businesses rely on. Google reviews help a business to rank higher on Google Maps while also building trust and credibility with potential customers. Unfortunately, the rise of fake Google reviews has made this process a lot harder. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of fake google reviews on businesses.
Hurts the Business’s Reputation – A business’s online reputation is critical, and fake reviews negatively impact the establishment’s reputation. The problem starts when fraudulent reviews are mixed with authentic ones, making it challenging for the customer to distinguish between the two. Unknowingly, a potential customer will associate a fake review with the company and decide not to transact with the establishment. This behavior will snowball and influence other customers who depend on search engines to narrow their choices. Customer reviews indeed carry weight in matters of trust. Therefore, when a customer sees a fake review, they may lose confidence in the business and ultimately harm its reputation.
Disrupts the Business Ranking – The Google algorithm relies on reviews to rank businesses, and having fake reviews can disrupt the rankings. Google uses the frequency of the reviews, the number of total reviews, relevance, and consistency of reviews to determine the ranking of a business. However, people who post fake reviews are usually more active in posting them than regular customers, creating exaggerations in the number of reviews, which will negatively affect the competition. Therefore, by manipulating the ranking system through false reviews, it becomes harder for potential customers to find established customers on Google Maps.
Negative Business Performance – The business’s revenue is impacted by the volume and type of reviews posted on Google. Fake Google reviews can be used by competitors to manipulate potential customers’ opinions, leading them to think that the company is bad when, in reality, the establishment is delivering quality work. For instance, when a customer reports a fake review as spam, the review falls off the search results or is shown beneath authentic reviews. As a result, there is a higher probability of customers choosing the competing establishments over the business. Therefore, by lowering the business’s visibility, the revenue will be adversely affected.
Violation of Business Ethics and Legalities – Writing fake reviews is a violation of online ethics and legalities established to protect customers and businesses from biased, malicious information. United States law, for instance, bills such conduct as false advertising and imposes hefty fines on the perpetrators. A query by Google on fraudulent reviews will provide customers with guides on how to flag spam reviews anonymously, ensuring that business premises are genuine and delivering quality service. Thus, customers and businesses who post fake reviews innocently or do it for other reasons may face expensive legal battles that may negatively impact their standing.
Property Damage – Fake reviews can also cause property damage to physical or digital assets, especially if several fake reviews are collectively posted about a single business. Physical businesses such as restaurants, shops, and hotels need to offer efficient and high-quality services to maintain customers. However, inevitably some customers will leave the establishment less satisfied than others, which can stimulate negative feedback. When a fraudulent review is posted, most customers who intended to visit the business will not, causing considerable damage to the business’s property and business assets. Negative reviews will drive away customers, hence differences in revenue, investors, and ultimately a shutdown of the company.
Fake reviews exert an enormous influence on businesses, and the ripple effect of these reviews can be incredibly damaging. The damage can range from the business’s reputation to legal battles that follow such acts as false advertising. Therefore, businesses must take steps to verify the authenticity of all reviews posted online. Additionally, if any suspicious activity is noticed, they should report it to the online review community to eliminate such reviews and protect their business’s reputation. Ultimately, adherence to acceptable ethical and legal practices remains a critical aspect of online reviews that can help maintain high standards of credibility and trust between businesses and their customers.