More threads by lauren


Sep 18, 2012
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If I am offering some kind of incentives (like 10 to 15% off on particular item) to the customers if they will leave review for my place page do you think that is something against of Google guidelines? Or Google can detect that(if yes than how? as they are real users so would be from different IPs) and i can be penalized? As they all are real users.
Hi Lauren

Yes, offering anything towards a particular item in direct exchange for a review would likely fall under "conflict of interest", as described within Google's TOS,

Removals of Google Places reviews - Places for business Help

Conflict of interest: Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. For instance, as a business, you should not offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. As a reviewer, you should not accept money or product from a business to write a review about them. Additionally, don?t review a certain way just because an employee of that business asked you to do so. Don?t post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or affiliation with the place you are reviewing.
Actually one of my competitor having 80+ reviews on their place page. And all are positive (seems doubtful). And I came to know they are providing such offers than why they are not being penalized.
Lauren, here's an analogy...

You park in a no parking zone. You come out and your car gone because is got towed. You tell the police that gives you the ticket - "that's not fair, another guy was parked there and he didn't get towed or get a ticket." Cop would say, just because someone else got away with it does not make it right or mean it's OK for you to violate or that I shouldn't give you a ticket. It clearly states no parking and you violated.

There are thousands and thousands of businesses getting their reviews deleted. Some didn't even do anything wrong. BUT many used incentives or did something else that was against guidelines.

Here are one of many threads at the Google forum. You should read. It has over 330 complaints about missing reviews. Google Groups
Don's reply is correct but I live in "Realville" so let me give you my honest opinion on this topic;)

These policies that Google and Yelp spell out for obtaining reviews is a little ridiculous. I think the main intent behind these policies is they don't want you to outright buy reviews - as in having people who aren't even customers leave you a positive review in exchange for something of value (money, discounts, gifts, etc.). In other words, the policies are meant to curb fake reviews.

Small businesses have been soliciting reviews from their customers for years. This is a common practice. I personally see absolutely nothing wrong giving your customers an incentive to leave you a review. The keyword is "review." I don't think it's right to give them an incentive to leave you a positive review only (i.e. Leave us a positive review and we'll give you 15% off your next purchase).

I think it's perfectly fine to give your customers an incentive to leave a review AFTER the transaction has taken place. For example, you send them an email, postcard, whatever after the sale that says you appreciate their business and for taking the time to leave you a review, you're giving them 15% off their next purchase.

Even if that crosses Google's policies, who cares? How are they ever going to find out? They aren't.

Now my caveat...I wouldn't advise that you go back to all your past customers and ask them for a review with an incentive. This could potentially lead to a flood of new reviews, which would definitely raise some flags with Google.

Travis Van Slooten

P.S. Your competitor who has 80 positive reviews does sound suspicious but you never know. They could be legit reviews. If they aren't, Google will eventually catch up to them. Even if Google doesn't, I wouldn't take that as a sign that you can get away with the same thing.

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