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Here at ReviewTrackers we believe that one of the best ways to build your business reputation is by generating online reviews.

And one of the best ways to generate online reviews is by asking customers to write and post them for you, on major sites like TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.

(We would normally add Yelp to the list, but the popular review site’s content guidelines prevent local businesses from reaching out to customers for reviews.)

It’s no surprise that one of the ReviewTrackers features our business clients love the most is the Review Request tool, which identifies happy customers and creates beautiful and customizable review request E-mails to be sent to these customers.

DO: Generate new reviews

By making the effort to increase their quantity of online reviews, local businesses can:

  • Boost local search performance. Review signals (quality of reviews, quantity of reviews, etc.) are an important ranking factor in local search.
  • Improve online ratings. Cornell research shows that, as a business receives more reviews, the aggregated rating is likely to increase.
  • Strengthen your reputation. The higher your ratings are, the stronger your online reputation gets. An increase in both the quantity and quality of your reviews can also minimize the impact that negative comments and low ratings may have on your business.
  • Understand customers better. Even if the new reviews aren’t overwhelmingly positive – and contain some harsh but warranted criticisms – you’re still creating structured opportunities to understand customers’ attitudes better and identify which aspects of your performance can be improved. 

DON’T: Incentivize reviews 

There is one critical point we have to make about your review management and generation efforts: do not “incentivize” your reviews. If you’re asking customers to review your business, don’t give them rewards or incentives of any sort. 

Even giving discounts to reviewers count as giving them incentives. Just this week, the FTC cracked down on an auto shipment broker called AmeriFreight for misrepresenting its online reviews. According to the FTC’s press release, the company failed to disclose the fact that it gave rewards (in the form of $50 discounts) to customers who posted reviews, and was thus guilty of deceptively representing that its glowing reputation and great reviews were based on the unbiased opinions of its customers.

FTC found AmeriFreight in violation of the guidelines it set in 2009, on the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.

“With a blog post, testimonial, review or celebrity endorsement, if there is any form of compensation or close relationship between the party giving the endorsement and the business receiving it, it is required that the relationship be made explicit,” wrote Local U’s Mike Blumenthal. “It is now clear that these rules apply to online reviews for local businesses as well.”

It’s also illegal to incentivize reviews even if there’s no requirement that the review should be positive. In 2013, New York regulators cracked down on 19 companies caught faking online reviews. One of these companies was actually a tooth whitening service company that gave away $10 coupons in return for any review, regardless of whether it was good or bad.

“Endorsements (such a positive reviews and high ratings) are an important tool for advertisers and they can be persuasive to consumers,” FTC’s website states. “But the law says they also have to be truthful and not misleading. If there is a connection between the endorser and the marketer of a product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.”

We’re not saying you should stop asking customers for reviews. Just don’t give them rewards for it. For more tips and tricks to help you with your review and reputation management program, here’s a list of ethical ways to generate more online reviews.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Christina

    You know I never thought about this being bad for business before. Especially if it’s illegal where you live.

    • Manisha Sithembile

      Yes, online reviews are taken more and more seriously from a legal standpoint. There are several laws as well as legal precedent that can get you into trouble if you’re gaming the system.

  2. Vince

    Giving your customers gifts, money or anything else in exchange for online reviews regardless of whether they’re positive or negative should be consider the same as posting fake reviews since the goal of both actions is just to advertise your company’s name on the Internet

  3. B.Logan

    Why is giving discounts treated like something bad. Most of people who visit your shop or restaurant will not review your business regardless of being satisfied or not. By giving them discounts you are just encouraging them to leave a review as you would like to read as many reviews and opinions you can about your business. That way you can work on getting even better then you are now. So, I think that the discount should be treated as a way of making sure that you will hear their opinion and also there is nor fraud in such move as nobody is forcing anyone to write a positive review, they should only write true reviews and that’s all.

    • Jacob B

      I agree with Logan. Offering them discount is a way to ensure that they will leave a review. that review will not be always positive, there will be 2 and 3 star reviews as well. So, they are not buying 5 star reviews, but reminding customers about how much their review can be important.

      • Brandon

        I agree. What’s more comical is that while you can’t give incentives for people to take the time out of their day to write out an honest review(positive or negative). Google refuses to remove completely false and defamatory reviews even if you provide proof. Instead you either have to kindly ask the trolls to play nice(which they won’t), or file a lawsuit which is likely to backfire and the trolls will take to social media saying “SEE SEE, they are an evil company”.

      • Thomas Courtney

        Good day .

        I’m a business owner who has been struggling with getting my business to a certain level of success because I’ve learned that until you leave the customers home they won’t be happy with anything you do and the last thing you want is a customer putting a review on you that isn’t true and you can’t prove otherwise.

        In a way its never a good idea to ask or suggest they should put a review on your work on the Internet because customers will fabricate the truth and add certintee words that are servery damaging to a new based business. It’s also bribery to offer something to gain from the action your paying for, here is a hint . I have had 2 customers put false reviews on my company and only 5% was actually honest and 95% were completely not true or fabricated to the point of slander. And now a days one bad review can effect you in a very bad way because our laws are not to protect us they are to protect the money …… look at how any customer has the ability to place a review but the customer is not able to get it removed because they have the right to express their opinion of your work and overall professionalism. . .

        Read this Review from my customer :

        DO NOT HIRE THIS SCAMMER. Our family works hard for our money. We should not be so trust worthy. Hired Tomas to finish drywall in basement, seemed nice left deposit. Than he started to make excuses. We have home $2200 for material that never arrived. 7 months later we are still out $2450. He is a scammer do not hire this guy please be aware of his scam. He will rip you off.

        NOTE: #1

        This review was not truthful at all however in the customers opinion this is what happened and I had to threaten legal action upon the website before it was removed after supplying proof of the events that took place.

        The point of this is its against the law to use any form of media or larger based audience using type things to sudmit harmful or discrediting natured review with the intention of a certain outcome . To tell the world that *I will Rip them off* if they hire me based on his Assumption that’s what I did could be a extremely disaster to my company but the site even after they Valedated the review they still placed it on my page and who know how many people saw it . Now it’s on the Web and will always be there because of the dishonest people who feel wronged and Mr. HOLMES help our companiesout so much by putting all his million dollar ways and opinions out to all the lower class home owners to feel there always the victim when in all truth, I’ve been a victim more this year then last because of our laws and cost to defend yourself without proof because it’s made up . How can I prove my side .

        Theread is no human rights or honestyanymore in our world. It’s about the money and greed ..

        No reviews is better then bribingthem for one. Because it’s like a speeding ticket once they start they keep coming

  4. Taylor

    What about giving out coupons for reviews ALREADY given?