This is a subject that comes up often. People will ask me if buying reviews is okay, adding that they know someone who they are sure does this.
The Black Hat SEO, White Hat SEO Debate
When I began, I wanted to do everything 100% white hat SEO. I wanted to stay well across any line of question and clearly away from Google radar. As I grew in the industry and my relationships grew in the industry, people I knew and respected pointed something out to me. You can always be 100% right and you will be 100% beaten by those who bend or break the rules. In my eight years of business. I can report, this is absolutely true.
What Can You Do?
A lot of people ask if they should report these “people” they know to Google. I will tell you point-blank, I would not report them. I have never reported them and it is not my plan. So, yes you can. But I don’t advise it. That is their decision and it is between them and Google.
What I do advise is that you get more reviews for yourself.
Ways To Get More Reviews For Yourself
- Incentive reviews
I like to offer my clients or future clients an incentive in exchange for their review. Sometimes I will offer them a gift card, or a card for dinner at a popular restaurant, or some other gift for their time. This is what I call walking in the gray area. It allows me to compete without crossing the line.
- Colleague reviews
Your people do not have to be a current client to leave a review. Here are a few examples of colleague reviews:
“If I ever get arrested for DUI, Bob Johnson would be the first attorney I would call. Bob is a great guy and a hard worker. I know he would get the job done.”
“Brenda Greene handled my co-worker’s personal injury case. If I ever need an attorney, I will hire her.”
These are quality reviews and they are perfectly legal.
This Is A Case Of Quantity Over Quality
This may be the only case you will see where quantity takes the prize over quality. You may have 20 reviews on your site. Perhaps only 2 of these reviews are pulling in 4.2 stars, It doesn’t matter. The fact that you have 20 reviews gets you the calls you need. Think of it this way. The last time you were shopping on Amazon and were narrowing down your search did you look down at the search numbers? Sure you did. Now if one seller had 20 reviews and the other only had 3, you probably went straight to the one with 20, right? Of course. You probably assumed if they sold enough of them that 20 people took time to write, they are the ones. I doubt you stopped to read the 20 reviews. This is something I have been saying for 10-years and recently, Search Engine Journal has published a report saying the same thing.
I don’t encourage anyone to go crazy breaking rules and doing anything they want to. But sometimes you have to skate close to the line if you are to compete with those who do. You have to be smart and understand the rules in order to navigate SEO waters.