Fake Reviewers Get 0 Starts From New York Attorney General

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New York’s attorney general revealed the results of a yearlong investigation into the business of fake reviews. Eric Schneiderman announced last Monday that 19 companies that engaged in the practice will stop and pay fines between $2,500 and $100,000, for a total of more than $350,000 in penalties.

“Operation Clean Turf,” was a year-long investigation into the reputation management industry, the manipulation of consumer-review websites, and the practice of astroturfing, found that companies had flooded the Internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch.

The practice of putting up fake positive reviews is called “astroturfing” — the 21st century version of false advertising, which is illegal.

Business obviously have a lot to gain from astroturfing.

A Harvard Business School study from 2011 found that a one-star rating increase on Yelp can translate into a 5 percent to 9 percent revenue growth for a restaurant.

A Cornell study found that one extra star on TripAdvisor is tied to an average of an 11 percent rise in room rates for hotels.

72% of Users Say They Trust Yelp ‘As Much’ as Their Own Friends

The research firm Gartner projects that by 2014, between 10 and 15 percent of online reviews will be fake.

Obviously fake reviews aren’t anything to joke around about, and there have been quite a few incidents in the media the last few months related to online reviews.

Today, I want to leave you with 3 Tips

1. Get Your Customers To Write Reviews – you need a system in place that systematically and automatically gets your customers to visit yelp, google and the other TOP local directories and leave you outstanding reviews. I can tell you first hand I’ve only been asked to leave a review for a business less than 5 times.

2. Fix problems – understand that bad reviews are opportunities… When you get a bad review (and trust me you will) fix the issue, and ask the reviewer if they would post again saying you fixed the issue.

3. Track your brand name and reviews…

* Google Alerts – Service by google will email you when they find new results for your search
* Check out hoot suite to monitor and track mentions of your product or service on Twitter & Facebook
* BookMark Your Profile Page On: Google Plus Local & Yelp at the very least