Red flags are given to companies that don’t have legitimate reviews, on average fake reviews only boost the star rating of a company about half a star. If caught, red flags can ruin a company’s reputation because there is no second chance, they’re assumed guilty. Over 85% of consumers say they’ve used a review site at some point during the last year and of that 58% trust a business that has a positive business post. On the flip side the system could be used against itself if someone were to post false reviews against the competition. If done well, companies could get flagged without doing anything wrong, although the politics of mudslinging in the review world wouldn’t get them far because espionage is easy to dig out with a little research. Also if companies keep pulling each other down eventually there will only be flags and the whole rating system would collapse, this seems unlikely because consumer trust is still important to businesses and having a legitimate site to post on is still better than nothing.
Word of mouth is still the most trusted review, 82% of consumers choose what they want based on what they hear as opposed to 66% which use customer reviews. Statistics aside, “corporate gaming” is a problem because it poisons the system, even some SEO sites include pay-per-review as a part of their package; now more than ever it’s critical as Yelp and other review sites migrate to mobile that it remain as pure as possible. Pay-per-review is mostly an SMB tool, most established corporations already have a good online reputation and trusted word of mouth rep. Craigslist is where most of the dirt gets done, advertisements range from $20 to $200 depending on what company, the number of reviews needed and across how many sites. As more fake reviews get posted it gets easier to site who and how they are being gamed because patterns arise. Bigger review sites like Yelp can catch them quicker as they’ve better prepared themselves with proper algorithms that can auto-detect when someone is trying to game the system. In conclusion there are no shortcuts in the review game, to get a quality reputation you have to provide a quality product and/or service.