Los Angeles Times writers Jessica Guynn and Andrea Chang shared a story about a business networking group that conspired together to post fake reviews for each others businesses.
According to the Los Angeles Times article:
"Yelp stripped the suspect reviews from its site last month and sent emails to members of the group — known as South Bay BNI — informing them that their behavior was out of bounds.
"This was a sophisticated effort to bolster the reputation of members of this business networking group through five-star reviews," said David Lee, Yelp's user operations manager. "Reviews that have a bias lead to a poor consumer experience."
What business owners need to understand is that if they are busted for posting fake reviews, the organic "coverage" of that event will often stay on Google Page One for a long time. You don't want articles appearing on Google Page One that imply that your business is involved is review scams.
You most often will be removed from the online business directory as well, which can cost a business thousands of dollars in profits and for car dealers, thousands of site visits a month!
If you Google "South Bay BNI Yelp" you can see that a number of articles are being indexed on their group name including a post that talks about how valuable Yelp reviews are to local members.
I clicked on the article highlighted in red and it looks like their own website posted an article outlining their "excitement" of just how well Yelp works when you have many positive reviews. The hushed conversation which we can only guess is how they encouraged their members to get these reviews.
Yelp discovered the pattern of behavior and busted the group's actions. Here is the post from their own website with a great line: "Givers Gain On Yelp Too!". It's obvious that Yelp felt that they gave too much!
There have been many threads on this website discussing the importance of monitoring and managing your online reputation that is established through websites like Google+ Local, Yelp.com, Cars.com, DealerRater.com, PrestoReviews.com, and the AAN.
You can also participate in a number of great workshops at AutoCon 2012 that pertain to Reputation Management.
To register and lock in the AutoCon Early Bird Rate visit: http:/www.AutoCon2012.com
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing