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Fake reviews from backlink services

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday July 10, 2011 )

Cheap and nasty backlink services are increasingly using fake customer reviews as the carrier for their link spamming – and the practice could see the online businesses and agencies that hire them in very hot water.

I administer a few forums and blogs and I’m frequently seeing comments from “customers” giving glowing (but usually poorly written) reviews about a product or service, but it’s quite easy to tell they aren’t customers at all.

For example, there may be a product sold only in Australia and a review will be posted from an IP address in Pakistan.

While fake customer reviews are nothing new, more online businesses are outsourcing their link building overseas – and often getting what they pay for – crap.. and worse than that, a potential legal headache.

In addition to being a practice that Google frowns upon and annoying the heck out of bloggers and forum administrators, when a spammy post goes beyond being just a drive-by link drop and steps into the realm of a fake customer review; businesses using these services should start getting very nervous.

In many countries, fake customer reviews are illegal – and if prosecuted, the penalty is far more than a slap on the wrist.

Once a business has been put on notice that fake customer reviews exist on the web as a result of a service they have engaged, they can’t just let those links sit – the business must take steps to remove those links and to ensure no further links are posted.

While the company contracted to post the links may be outside the reach of whatever country the business being promoted is in and the business can claim ignorance of what the company they hired was doing, the business can still be held liable if it comes to light they were warned and the posting continued.

I’ve said it dozens of times, but it’s worth repeating – cheap forum and blog comment posting services can do you more harm than good and wind up costing you a bundle, both in terms of dollars and damage to the reputation of your brand. It’s simply not worth the risk.

If you are going to hire outsiders to carry out linking activities, ensure you keep them on a very, very tight leash. Set ground rules for what is acceptable. Also be aware that whoever you contract your marketing, even if they are local, may sub-contract the link building aspect out to another bargain-basement agency located overseas.

For any outsiders you allow to perform linking activities, it’s probably best if the contractor records the details of every link they post or obtain and submit regular reports so you can check to ensure you are being represented appropriately and in a way that won’t see you possibly winding up in court.


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