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Can You Write Fake Reviews on Google?

letters F and A written on a wooden cube with the letters C, K T, and E tilted by the hand that forms words like both FACT and FAKE.

In a world where online reviews reign supreme, Google reviews have become the king of the review jungle. With a whopping 3.5 billion daily searches on Google, businesses understand the impact that Google reviews can have on their reputation and bottom line. 


But with great power comes great responsibility, and the responsibility to maintain the integrity of online reviews is no exception. Unfortunately, fake reviews have become all too common, with up to 20% of Google reviews being phonies. 


So, let’s get real and address the elephant in the digital room: can you fake it ’til you make it with Google reviews?

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Writing Fake Reviews on Google

Can you cheat the system and write fake reviews on Google? The answer is yes.


First, let’s define what we mean by fake reviews. Fake reviews are reviews that are either completely fabricated or written by individuals who have never actually used the product or service being reviewed. 


Surely these dark thoughts have crossed your mind:  How do I pay for fake google reviews?

It is technically possible to write fake reviews on Google by paying individuals or using bots to create reviews.


Yes, it is shockingly easy to write fake reviews on Google. In fact, Google even allows anonymous reviews, making it even easier for someone to hide their true identity while writing a fake review.


Thinking about penning a phony review to promote your favorite local business? Think again. While it may seem like a harmless way to help out, there are some serious ethical implications to consider.

  • Violating Google’s Terms of Service. Writing a fake review is a violation of Google’s terms of service. This means that if you’re caught, you could face repercussions like having your account suspended or even permanently banned.
  • Undermining Consumer Trust. A survey conducted by BrightLocal found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Writing a fake review undermines that trust.
  • Consequences for Businesses. While writing a fake review may seem like a victimless crime, it can have serious consequences for businesses. False reviews can damage a business’s reputation, leading to lost revenue and even bankruptcy. Additionally, some businesses have taken legal action against individuals that have written fake reviews.
FAKE written on a red background "OR" in middle of a magnifying glass icon, REAL words on a BLUE background.

Can Google ban you for fake reviews?

As the saying goes, cheaters never prosper – and this is especially true when it comes to writing fake reviews on Google. 


Google’s policies on fake reviews are clear: they do not allow fake, fraudulent, or deceptive reviews. Here’s what you need to know about Google’s penalties for writing fake reviews:

  • Suspension of Reviewing Privileges. This means that you won’t be able to leave any reviews on Google, including honest ones. The suspension can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the severity of the violation.
  • Permanent Ban from Reviewing. If Google catches you writing fake reviews more than once, the consequences become even more severe. In this case, Google can permanently ban your account from leaving reviews on their platform. 
  • Legal Consequences. In some cases, businesses have taken legal action against individuals or companies that have written fake reviews. This can result in hefty fines and legal fees, not to mention the damage to your reputation.
A photo of a woman surrounded with different audio tools.

How does Google identify fake reviews?

With millions of reviews being left on Google every day, it’s not an easy task. However, Google has a few tricks up its sleeve that help them identify fake reviews. Here are some of the methods that Google uses to detect fake reviews:

  • Content Analysis. They analyze the content of the review itself, looking for patterns and inconsistencies that may indicate that the review is not genuine. For example, if a reviewer has left multiple reviews for different businesses within a short time period, this may raise a red flag.
  • Machine Learning Algorithms. These algorithms analyze a variety of factors, such as the language used in the review and the reviewer’s behavior. The algorithms are constantly learning and evolving, making it more difficult for fake reviews to slip through the cracks.
  • Reviewer Behavior. Google looks at the behavior of the reviewer across different businesses and websites. If the same reviewer has left similar reviews for multiple businesses, this may indicate that the reviews are not genuine.
  • Human Moderation. These moderators are trained to spot fake reviews and have aaccess to additional information that the algorithms may not be able to detect.
A photo of a laptop with words flying out FAKE NEWS

Can fake Google reviews be traced?

The short answer is: it depends.


In some cases, it may be relatively easy for Google to identify the individual who wrote a fake review. For example, if the review was left from a Google account that is linked to the person’s real name and contact information, it may be possible for Google to track them down. 


Additionally, if the review violates Google’s policies, the business owner can report the review and request that Google take action against the reviewer.


However, in many cases, tracing a fake review back to its author can be incredibly difficult. Many fake reviews are left by individuals who use fake names or anonymous accounts, making it virtually impossible to track them down. 


Additionally, some individuals may use VPNs or other tools to conceal their IP addresses, making it even more difficult to identify them.

A photo of a hand holding the megaphone with white lines coming out of it with the words FAKE NEWS written in yellow on a chalkboard.

How can you tell if someone has fake Google reviews?

Did you know that  86% of consumers would hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. And if those negative reviews are fake, the impact can be devastating.


So how can you tell if a review is fake? While there’s no foolproof method, there are some signs to watch out for:

  • Over-the-top language. If a review is excessively positive or negative, it may be a red flag. Real reviews tend to be more balanced and nuanced.
  • Generic language. If a review doesn’t mention any specific details or experiences, it may be a fake. Real reviews tend to include specific details and anecdotes.
  • Timing. If a business suddenly receives a flurry of positive or negative reviews within a short timeframe, it may be a sign of fake reviews. Real reviews tend to be more spread out over time.
  • Similar language. If multiple reviews use similar language or phrasing, it may be a sign of fake reviews. Real reviews tend to be more unique and varied.

While these signs can be helpful in identifying fake reviews, it’s important to note that they are not foolproof. Some genuine reviews may also exhibit these characteristics, and some fake reviews may be more convincing. 


It’s always best to use your own judgment and read reviews carefully before making any decisions based on them.

Can Google reviews be defamatory?

Yes, In some cases, Google reviews can be defamatory, which can result in legal troubles and damage to your business’s reputation.


While these online reviews can help boost your brand reputation and attract new customers, they can also become a double-edged sword.


What is Defamation?

Defamation refers to a false statement made about a person or entity that causes harm to their reputation. If a statement is defamatory, it can lead to legal action against the person who made it.


Opinion vs. Defamation

Opinions are subjective and are protected by the First Amendment. Therefore, expressing a negative opinion about a business on Google Reviews is not defamatory. However, if the review includes false statements of fact that harm the business’s reputation, it could be considered defamation.


What are the legal implications of defamatory Google reviews?

Defamatory Google reviews can lead to legal action against the reviewer. If the review is found to be false and defamatory, the reviewer can be sued for libel. In some cases, businesses have been able to identify anonymous reviewers and take legal action against them.


NOTE: Not all negative reviews are defamatory. As long as the review is honest and based on the reviewer’s personal experience, it is generally protected under the First Amendment.

Man in purple shirt yelling on a line drawing megaphone with the word FAKE coming out of it.

Case Studies of Businesses Impacted by Fake Reviews

With online reviews being such a significant factor in consumer decision-making, it’s no wonder that some companies resort to shady tactics to boost their ratings. However, these tactics can have serious consequences, as evidenced by these real-life case studies.


Case Study 1: Fiverr – the $5 faker

In the world of freelance services, Fiverr is a big player. But in 2018, the company got caught up in a web of fake reviews that threatened to unravel its reputation. A journalist discovered a group of Fiverr users offering to post fake reviews for just $5 a pop. 


Fiverr took swift action, banning all fake review services and issuing a public apology. But the damage was already done, and customers were left wondering if the platform was truly legit.


Case Study 2: Amazon – the rating ruse

When you think of online reviews, Amazon is probably the first name that comes to mind. But even the e-commerce giant isn’t immune to the impact of fake reviews. In 2018, a couple sued Amazon, claiming that a competitor had used fake reviews to drive down their product’s rating and sales. 


The lawsuit alleged that the competitor had hired a firm to create hundreds of fake Amazon accounts and post fake reviews, resulting in a measly 1-star rating for the couple’s product.


Case Study 3: New York Attorney General’s Office – the sting operation

When it comes to fake reviews, some businesses will stop at nothing to get ahead. But in 2013, the New York Attorney General’s Office put the brakes on a network of companies paying for fake reviews on popular review sites like Yelp and Citysearch. 


The investigation uncovered one company that had posted over 1,000 fake reviews in just six months.

Picture of 2 hands on a keyboard with a search bar on the lest side of the picture.

Tips for Businesses to Combat Fake Reviews

You’ve heard the horror stories of businesses being impacted by fake reviews. Maybe you’ve even experienced it firsthand. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the scourge of fake reviews. 


Tip 1: Be a social media sleuth

Your online reputation can make or break your business. Use tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or Brand24 to stay on top of what’s being said about your business online. Think of yourself as a social media sleuth, always on the lookout for anything that might affect your reputation.


Tip 2: Encourage genuine reviews

Reach out to your happy customers and ask them to share their experiences on sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Google My Business. Offer incentives like discounts or freebies, but don’t be shady and try to bribe them for positive reviews. 


Tip 3: Show that you care

Responding to reviews, both good and bad, shows that you care about your customers and their experiences. Don’t leave them hanging – respond to negative reviews.


Tip 4: Report fake reviews

If you do come across a fake review, don’t just shrug it off. Report it to the review site and provide any evidence you have. Most review sites have policies against fake reviews and will take action if they find them to be in violation. 


Tip 5: Train your team

Fake reviews can sometimes come from within a business, whether intentionally or not. Educate your employees on the importance of authenticity and the consequences of fake reviews. Remind them that fake reviews are unethical and can do more harm than good.

Final Thoughts

In the age of “fake news” and alternative facts, it’s easy to see why some people might think it’s okay to write fake reviews on Google. However, not only is it unethical, but it can also have serious consequences. The risks far outweigh any potential benefits. 

In short, don’t be tempted to write fake reviews on Google or any other platform. Instead, focus on building genuine relationships with your customers and providing excellent service, which will encourage and increase positive reviews organically. 


Remember, honesty is always the best policy, both online and offline.

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