Since there inception, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo have been inundated with companies attempting to manipulate the loopholes to get their product or service ranked on the first page. Over the years these search engines have become finely attuned to such manipulations and have adjusted accordingly. The latest of these manupulations have come in the form of fake reviews.
Why bother with fake reviews you ask? Well it is quite simple actually. You see anyone well versed in the world of SEO knows that content is king, and the more content you have pointing to your site the better. As such, many SEO companies have been creating fake usernames and writing fake reviews to give their client’s a boost in rakings. Why? Just like a reliable review can convince the average consumer to purchase or avoid a service, search engines also use this data to determine where a company should rank. In particular, these reviews effect where a company ranks in the business listings on Google maps.
Which leads to another problem the search engines have with fake reviews. A fake review can lead a consumer to try a product or service because they feel the search engine recommended it. If the consumer has a bad experience with said service or product, search engines are concerned that they will switch to another search engine. Which means it directly effects their bottom line.
It is because of this that search engines like Google have pressed for there to be consequences for SEO firms who offer clients fake reviews. Recently Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York went after 19 SEO firms with a year long undercover investigation entitled “Operation Clean Turf,”. During this investigation the New York attorney general’s office delved into the reputation management industry and found the 19 SEO companies guilty of manipulating reviews essentially flooding the marketplace of sites like Google Local, CitySearch and Yelp with fake reviews. As a result these 19 SEO companies were force to cease these practices and pay a penalties of $350,000.
This groundbreaking judgement has left many in SEO adjusting their practices.