Online reviews have been a cornerstone of building a business’s reputation for decades but those days are drawing to an end. According to a recent study, 72% of consumers believe five-star reviews not entirely credible or not credible at all. 49% of consumers believe that too many companies are buying or creating fake reviews online. They’re correct: the vast numbers of businesses paying for fakes have undermined the credibility of real reviews significantly, meaning that many businesses are now wasting time and money by chasing down customers for reviews and fighting to have negative reviews taken down.

We still need reviews to make a business look active and legitimate but the key is to have a healthy, authentic mix of positive and negative reviews to alleviate any concern that your reviews are fake. Consumers are actively looking for fakes, they can tell the difference, and those fakes will likely get you penalized by Google. Algorithms to detect them are so robust that I often hear complaints of Google taking down legitimate testimonials. Instead of desperately trying to have negative comments taken down, address them in a sincere, caring way.

Businesses make mistakes and in the current market, embracing and addressing those mistakes is the way to earn a customer’s trust rather than by pretending to be flawless. Positive customer reviews are still the second most important factor determining purchasing decisions in the USA and UK, but the easiest way to jeopardize the credibility of your authentic reviews is by trying to purge them of all negativity. Solicit testimonials from your customers when appropriate but don’t spend too much time or money garnering them and make sure to diversify your reputation-building strategy. Showcase your positive ones, focus on multiple, relevant review sites, and if you have any questions about your online reputation, contact us today.