In Search of The Purchased Google Review. Yours for $1.40 ea.

Last night I went in search of the purchased Google review. I was curious what the high ranking results were for phrases like buy Google reviews and how much a review would cost.

Far and away the most compelling was from the number 1 ranked exact match domain: buygooglereviews.com. Reviews started at $2 each when buying 5 but got down to $1.40 when buying 50. You have to love their proclamation of integrity that jumps out upon arriving at the site. I suppose that the people are real… its the reviews I am worried about:

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The second ranking result was an eBay search result that offered reviews from $3.48 ea when buying a quantity 5 of them to $10 a review that included a 30 day guarantee.

The vendor providing the guaranteed results used only “professional writers genuinely based in the US, Canada and the UK”. Unfortunately they only served “Vegan and Family friendly sites only”… hmm strange set of values that. No burgers while we craft an illegal review. Well at least the cows are safe.

This eBay reseller’s total command of the English language was reassuring:

 *TOP GOOGLE PLACES REVIEW SERVICE *

I will write 5 Excellent Google Reviews (5*****) for you and provide you with a best service, with good english and completed on time .

If you want to expand your business and make good market share then this service is perfect for you !

We will submit 5 Positive Reviews to Google places page of your Business .

- All of our reviews are submitted from legitimate Google accounts and different US IP addresses so it’s 100% safe .

 

One assumes that these sites and resellers get customers and successfully sell some reviews. Google offers them up top search ranking and eBay allows their services to be pitched even though illegal. I recognize that the internet is often a cesspool. But Google’s (and eBay’s) inability to control what they in effect create is amazing even when its to their own detriment.

We live in strange times.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
In Search of The Purchased Google Review. Yours for $1.40 ea. by

25 thoughts on “In Search of The Purchased Google Review. Yours for $1.40 ea.”

  1. The scarier thing here is that this industry is thriving. And for an industry to be thriving, it needs the necessary demand… In Bulgarian, there is a matching phrase: “The one who is eating the banitsa is not the one at fault, but it is the one who gave it to him.”

  2. Call me an optimist, but I think these scammers’ days are numbered. Sooner or later, Google’s review filter is just going to tighten up again (thought maybe not as extremely as before). More to the point, most customers are good at sniffing out fakes. The fakeness of some businesses’ reviews will be even more obvious.

    Mike, you should do a roundup post of all these shady services. Why rake each one over the coals just once? Heck, maybe I’ll do it :)

  3. You’ve turned over quite a stone there, Mike. Nyagoslav raises an interesting point. Business owners are getting it that they need reviews, but the fact that they would pay for them indicates that they are finding the alternative – working for reviews – too confusing or too hard. There needs to be as much educational outreach to SMBs as possible on this. Mike, at LocalU, do you guys do a session on review acquisition? Clearly, one is needed!

  4. @Phil

    There are two sides of their days being numbered. One whether Google actually stops promoting them AND buries their reviews and two whether SMBs with larceny in their heart STOP sending them money. All too many of them think that there is an easy way to get reviews and even if the above didn’t success in getting reviews through the money would have already been spent.

    The other point is that this behavior has been going on now on google for somewhere around 3 years. Here is one of my earliest reports dating from 3/30/2010.

    Google creates an artificial market, then promotes that market through search, then makes attempts at filtering reviews…. this is an old story and one where at best Google modulates the outcome never eliminates the problem. In this story, Google has managed to mangle any number of real reviews.

    Grade to date: C

    So while I am an optimist as well, I get tired of waiting for Google to get it right without screwing over legit SMBs. And I get tired of waiting…..

  5. It’s ashame. The fact that business owners buy reviews indicate that they’ve compromised their integrity. And the fact that these “quality reviewers” are thriving is an indication that a lot of the business owners have joined the bandwagon of people earning despite deceiving others. Tsk. Such a shame indeed.

  6. What with Google’s overly tight local proximity lockout and totally screwed ranking algo what’s the point of reviews.
    My company has 73 five star reviews and I have dropped to position J.
    Where I live well over half the local businesses fall outside of the map area so the only way is Adwords.

  7. Until Google make it easier for people to leave reviews, these people are going to continue to look attractive to business owners.

    Until Google stops ranking their damned exact match domain sites, business owners are going to think it’s OK to use them.

    It’s not rocket science :(

  8. @Graham

    The inverse is also true. There’s not much point in top rankings unless you have at least a few reviews. Sure, you’ll get some phone calls from them, but it’s like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Ultimately, people need a reason to click on the top rankings, other than that they happen to be at the top of the local heap. Something has to persuade them that they’re looking at a business that’s actually good. Reviews can help with that.

  9. @Mike

    True, but Google does seem to be slowly getting better. Sure, the problem of fake-o reviews will never totally go away, but even two steps forward and one step back is progress.

    Call me teleological :)

  10. Yeah there are some bad fake reviews out there. Especially the reviews that are stuffed with search keywords. There are a lot of fake review deals on Craigslist type sites as well.

  11. 1.40 a review? Such a deal.

    These guys are charging 25 per review here, but then again they are SO professional!

    ad SPACE blaze DOT com/product/online-reviews/

    Of course they sell gmail accounts, +1s, Twitter followers, Pinterest likes and all kinds of other shady stuff, so why not fake reviews too?

  12. After that comment (and the others under other articles) of “Barbara”, we now at least know one more thing about this “vendor”, and probably others offering similar services – their command in English is very, very poor……. (I guess if you add more dots at the end of a sentence that should make the “point” stronger?) :)

  13. It’s definitely discouraging to see stuff like this, because it also diminishes the legitimacy of real reviews.

    I suppose this is a natural development though. Reviews are becoming (already are, really) increasingly important for online decisions, and some organizations are going to look for the easiest way to get them, creating a market for illegitimate reviews like this. It’s going to be difficult to really enforce genuine social media comments, reviews, and essentially anything else. Some companies have entire social media teams who talk positively about themselves all over the internet. I do think a method of policing this kind of thing will develop in due time, and we are becoming more aware of tactics like this ourselves.

  14. @Paul
    You certainly cover the dynamic of the development of the market place. I would add however that this takes place because Google did not have adequate review filters in place early on to discourage widespread abuses. Yelp, however they handle reviews, has done a better job of mitigating the value of spamming reviews.

    It is ironic that Google highlights the importance of reviews, then suffers this sort of spamming, they then have to put resources into fighting this to then find out that their algo is still so unsophisticated that it annoys too many people….

  15. Mike (or anyone else who may know), is there an email address or link at Google to send in info on these types of scams – I have a nice one I want to rat out ;-)

  16. I do agree with Phil as such service can be tracked on long run and once tracked, reviews written by fake people will not only eliminate from ranking factors but also harm your brand as far as rankings is concern.

    It is more important to understand the pattern they are using while submitting fake reviews. Changing IPs, using same email to write different business reviews, using proxies etc.

    Its better to play safe in my opinion !

  17. I have a client with a 10 year online track record of few reviews but the ones he had were genuine and of good quality. After a run-in with one particularly bad customer he ended up with several bad reviews on this Google page that, we assume, were written by the same individual.

    I had him contact as many friends and family as possible to send him good reviews, but came up a bit short to truly bury the offending reviews. We opted to “buy” a few more to pad his good reputation. I believe, no harm done. Maybe sometimes two wrongs can make it right…

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