Does Google Recommend Fake Reviews for Ecommerce SEO?

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I was doing some research on ecommerce SEO when I ran across a page on the Google Search Central site. The page offered tips and tricks to help ecommerce operators improve search engine performance. One of the tips recommends writing “high quality reviews.” Depending on how a person reads the opening paragraph, it could seem as though Google is implying that fake reviews are a good idea.

Fake Reviews for Ecommerce SEO

Google has made a point of letting web developers and site owners know that they don’t appreciate fake content. They have gone all their way to punish plagiarism, spun content, etc. Recommending fake reviews for ecommerce SEO doesn’t align with typical Google practices.

At Webtek Digital Marketing, where ecommerce SEO is on the menu, staff aren’t convinced Google is recommending fake reviews. They say the rest of the document explains as much.

A Poorly Written Explanation

Webtek suggests that the first paragraph is just a poorly written explanation of Google’s recommendations for ecommerce reviews. The document says that “publishing high quality reviews can help people learn more about things they are considering.” It goes on to say that “you could write a review as”:

  • An expert staff member.
  • A blogger.
  • An editorial staff member.

We will look at the three recommendations in just a minute. But first, whether we’re looking at a poorly written explanation or not, it’s easy for anyone to read what Google has published and come away thinking that fake ecommerce reviews are a good idea. Maybe they are. But as someone who has been researching and writing about ecommerce SEO for years, I wouldn’t personally recommend fake reviews.

Genuine Reviews Rock

In addition to being a freelance writer, I am also a consumer who appreciates being able to shop online. I read reviews as much as other consumers. In my opinion, genuine reviews rock. They are also easy to spot. Genuine reviews offer information that could only be obtained by actually getting your hands on a product. They aren’t generic, bland, or free of opinions for or against.

That said, the three recommendations in Google’s help document represent three types of people capable of writing a genuine review that actually accomplishes something. Let’s look at each one in a bit more detail:

1. An Expert Staff Member

Google describes the expert staff member as someone capable of guiding consumers as they look at competing products. This is someone who knows the product in question inside out. It’s not merely someone from the marketing team who knows how to write good ad copy. An expert staff member has the expertise to write a legitimate review.

2. A Blogger

For the purposes of this particular document, Google describes a blogger as someone who provides independent opinions. That’s a pretty generic definition. I would go one step further to say that it is a blogger who actually sees, handles, and uses the product in question. A blogger can’t write a genuine review simply by searching the internet to find what other people are saying.

3. An Editorial Staff Member

The editorial staff members Google is referring to in their help document are not employees of the ecommerce operator. They are staff members employed by news and other publishing outlets. But like bloggers, they should have first-hand knowledge.

The thing about fake reviews is that they are easy to spot by people who know what to look for. They won’t do much for ecommerce SEO or sales. Regardless of how one might read and understand the Google document, staying away from fake reviews is the best course of action.


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