Fake Reviews on Yelp

Should You Buy Yelp Reviews ?

So you want to buy some reviews for your business from Yelpers. You know customers are constantly searching for reviews before choosing where to spend their cash. You know that if you have a 4-star review it’ll drive more “boots” into your business. Problem is, right now you have a 2-star review and you’re “dead in the water”. Maybe you’re a new business and Yelp has filtered out your last three good reviews but only shows that 1-star review by some annoying customer. It’s frustrating, it’s not fair and it’s costing your business money. But, before you go and buy Yelp reviews, think about how it could negatively affect your business…and consider using Socialdraft managed services to help you manage your reviews instead. Let’s get down and dirty before you make a big mistake.

Buy Yelp Reviews For Your Business Today

If you made it to this page, you’re probably in the situation outlined above. You searched around the internet for websites that sell Yelp reviews. You’ve seen some that charge a mere for $25 per review. “Wow, that’s cheap!”….you tell yourself. If I move up a few stars that could mean five, ten, maybe even fifty thousand dollars of new business. Easy decision, right? Wrong!

There are major ramifications ethically, financially, and even legally.

Let’s break down each separately.

Is it ethical to buy fake Yelp reviews?

Buying Reviews on Yelp

No. The reason why is you are allowing a third party to lie to your future customers about the quality of your business. You have real customers who pay you money for your product, instead of listening to them you’re misleading them. What if they find out? Well, I’ve got bad news for you Yelp’s algorithm has gotten more and more sophisticated to the point where they know when a review is fake and should be filtered. Continuous infractions get pages flagged. The above image shows what your Yelp page could look like if you buy Yelp reviews and get caught.

How many people do you think will find you on yelp now? Not many.

How can buying fake reviews on Yelp hurt you financially?

Let’s say you’re not caught by Yelp’s algorithm. You get 20 new 4 to 5-star reviews (costing you $500). You start to see you business traffic pick up which is good but you then start seeing new reviews coming in which are negative. Why you ask? Because you’ve deceived the Yelpers and their expectations are high (you are a 4.5 star now aren’t you?). Now that falsely inflated traffic you were receiving is dropping like a bomb. What can you do? It dawns on you buy more reviews. This cycle goes on for a while until the company you’re buying fake Yelp reviews from offers you reviews from Yelp Elites. You agree because a Yelp Elite is 10x more important than a normal person. Because of that you pay the premium of $500 per Yelp Elite review.

Socialdraft’s Managed Services include Yelp page optimization, and review management.

You wait a few weeks and your reviews are still sinking. You think that Yelp Elite reviews could help. You contact the company you’ve been buying reviews from and they say you just have to wait a bit more. What you realize is that you’re not scamming Yelp, you’re getting scammed. Yelp Elites get so many benefits from Yelp (private parties, free dinners, free swag) that to risk all that for a few hundred bucks isn’t worth it.

What Happens If You Get Caught Buying Yelp Reviews

Let’s say you get caught. Your account will be flagged on Yelp. That free traffic they were sending to your website disappears. Past angry customers will comment about this on your social media sites as well as other review sites. News sites write articles about businesses that buy Yelp reviews, they use you as an example.

Ask yourself how an article in the local paper stating that your business was not good enough so you had to resort to paying some guy online to create fake accounts for you to get fake reviews. I’d say that would affect your bottom line in thousands of dollars a month.

Is buying fake reviews on Yelp illegal?

You’re probably telling yourself, “I’m not going to get caught and if I do I’ll spin it some way that it won’t affect my business”. Well bad news, this is also illegal. Federal Trade Commission’s (FT) 16 CFR Part 255 Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertise says it’s a big “no-no”. In particular, Part 255 is used by the FTC to require any bloggers, product/business reviewers, third party advertisers, and others posting reviews to disclose any financial incentives (if they were paid), gifts, accommodations, or otherwise benefits they may have received in return for posting a review.
You know that company Belkin. They build those Wifi routers you have in office. Well, they were fined in the 7-digits. A plastic Surgery Franchise was fined $300,00.

According to the FTC “Anyone that uses someone else to “promote their products would be wise to put in place a reasonable monitoring program to verify…that they follow the principles of truth in advertising.”

You keep saying to yourself there is no way they’d find out. Wrong. Remember it’s not just a relationship you and your customers have. There is the relationship you and your competitors have. Wouldn’t a competitor who knows you’ve got fake reviews send a few anonymous calls to the Attorney General and even Yelp itself? This is scary stuff.

What can I do instead of buying reviews for my business?

Now you’re asking the right questions.

1 – Analyze

You need to look at the review you have and see if there is a trend.

  • Is a waitress slow with the check?
  • Is there a problem with your receptionist?
  • Can your bedside manner be better?
  • Are your prices too high?
  • Since you stopped offering towels in the gym, did people get upset?


Read all the reviews and look for a thread connecting each. Once you see it you’ll know what is the first thing you have to fix.

2 – Fix it.

You’ve identified the issue take action.   I am not telling you to put a band-aid on the problem. I am saying fix it outright.  Sometimes, this is almost impossible.   You might be cash strapped or even the complexity of the issue is too hard for you to fix in a short period of time.  That’s okay.  Breathe.   How about taking baby steps.   Fix what you can of the issue and devise a plan to keep doing that.

  • Bad waitress? fire her.   If she’s your sister-in-law, move her to the register.
  • Got a batch of bad inventory?  Write off what you can or lower the price and mark it as “almost new”.   Someone will take it.

Be creative about the solution and you’ll see how simple it is to cut out of your business.  Those nights you’re up thinking about this blight will be gone.  It’s gone and your business is stronger for it.

3 – Shake hands and Kiss Babies

Go back to Yelp and respond to all the bad reviews.   Admit to the issue and tell them how you fixed it.  People love this.  They want to understand you are not some evil corporate company that cares for profits over their happiness.   Once they see you respond to them it will alleviate some of the anger from your customers.  I can call Keanu Reeves a bad actor all I want, but if I met the guy I’d tell him I loved Matrix 2 (which I hated). People have a much harder time being mean when they are personally invested in a business.

Invite the people who were upset to come back.  When they come in, thank them for their time.  Show them around.   In no time you’ll see those 1-star review change into 3+stars.

These 3 steps should help you mitigate and traverse the dangerous world of reviews.

But I Don’t Have Time For This!!!!

That’s where Socialdraft’s Managed Services come in. Socialdraft combines technology with the human touch to help you get Yelp off your mind. How does it work?

  • You are assigned a SIM (Social Identity Manager)
  • First, your SIM will optimize your Yelp listing.
  • Then, your SIM will analyze your Yelp reviews to let you know what the most pressing issues that need to be addressed are and give you actionable items so you can start to get them rectified.
  • Your SIM will come up with a set of responses that can be easily customized for recurring issues that are brought up for your Yelp reviews.
  • Your SIM will respond to reviews so you don’t have to and send you a weekly progress email.
  • If there are sensitive items that come up on Yelp reviews should be addressed internally or need the touch of your lawyer, your SIM will let you know so that you can take the necessary steps to address it.

Want to learn more about how we can help your business manage its Yelp Reviews? Schedule a discovery call with us today.