Paying for Google Reviews – Is this legal?

Getting reviews on Google is a great SEO tactic. The more reviews a business has indicates popularity to Google. The bottom line is that quantity of reviews is a ranking factor. The content of the review is helpful for seo as well. And as many business owners have discovered, it’s not easy to get your customers to review your business. So what is a business owner to do?

Not long ago, I read on Mike Blumenthal’s blog that Google’s guidelines which explicitly prohibited payment for reviews.

“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. For instance, as a business owner or employee you should not review your own business or current place of work. Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.”

At least one company seems to be breaking the rules.

Is this legal?
Paying for Google Reviews

At the bottom of this page reads this statement:

This offer was created by LocBox on behalf of Urban Float (located at: 3420 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98103). Call 206-257-4333 if you have any issues or questions with this offer.

So I called the number and got their voicemail. Really, this is not a big deal. It’s just curious. Should they be penalized? Will they be? It could be that this business is awesome and honest but perhaps misguided by LocBox.

I’m curious about this. How badly do I want the $5 Starbucks card, really. Do I write a review even though I’m not a customer? Would they check to see if I was a customer somehow? Would they send me the gift card if I wrote a negative review? I wonder. This business has 76 reviews as of April 21st, 2014. 76 is a lot of reviews for an establishment like this, in my opinion.

What are your thoughts? What is your business willing to do to get more reviews on Google? Are you willing to bend the rules a little? Or break them? There are better ways to get reviews on Google in our opinion. Simply reach out and interact with your customers. Or better yet – be so overwhelmingly awesome that your customers can’t help but tell others about you.