Recently I read an article from PPC Associates titled How To Spot Fake Google Reviews, obviously I was enticed to read the post as gaining reviews for local businesses is one of the best ways to affect rankings and help set your business apart as a trusted partner.  I often talk to my clients about the importance of reminding their customers to write reviews about the service or product they received.  In fact I had one client that took this to heart and emailed his past clients asking for reviews…and to my surprise he garnered 15 reviews which shot his business to the first page for a highly sought for keyword.  But the reason the above article caught my attention is explained below.

Fake Reviews Are Black Hat SEO


It’s can tempting as a SEO company to help your clients position out by writing a few fake reviews for them. After all you might think that your helping them get to the first page, they get business, and you look like a hero, right?  Wrong.  Fake reviews are black hat.

Earlier this last summer I met with an insurance agency that wanted to get to the first page for the keyword string “Auto Insurance Portland”.  One very well known company here in town known for their outrageous commercials and well known slogan was the first Google Places result for the search.  After looking at this company’s place page, it became pretty clear that whomever was handling their SEO was involved in Black Hat tactics to get their client to the first page.  The biggest factor was Fake Reviews.  Whomever had posted these fake reviews didn’t even try to hide the fact they were fake.  Instead of writing a review, they had just stuffed a bunch of keyword strings (keyword stuffing) into several different reviews.  Keywords such as:

  • SR22 Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Auto Insurance Portland
  • and on, and on…

were repeated over and over again in all these reviews.

So after reading the article on How To Spot Fake Google Reviews, it made me think of this well known insurance company.  So of course I went to Google to see how this companies Black Hat SEO Tactics were working.  And to my surprise, this company has been been removed completely from the results on “Auto Insurance Portland”.  I did find their Google Place Page after doing a name search and found that not only did Google remove all the Keyword Stuffed reviews, but they also placed the page back into “unclaimed” status.  One lone review still remains…and from what I saw it still stinks to high heaven, I’ll let you decide for yourself below:

suspected fake google review screen shot

I decided to block out the company’s name for obvious reasons.  But it seems to me that whomever wrote this review is trying for rankings for:

  1. Insurance Beaverton Oregon
  2. Auto Insurance
  3. Homeowners Insurance
  4. Business Insurance
  5. SR22 Insurance

Moral of this story?  If some SEO Company promises you rankings, find out how they plan to do it.  I’ve always tried to use the rule that if a Google employee asked how I gain rankings for a client, how would I feel when I told them the answer?

Fake Google Reviews Will Hurt Your Business… in Vancouver WA - Portland OR - Nationwide

City Ranked is a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency with Clients in Oregon, Washington & Select Industries Nationwide:

Portland OR | Gresham | Beaverton | Hillsboro | Tigard | Oregon City | Vancouver WA | Seattle WA | Bend OR

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  1. Isn’t it amazing how much work people put into designing a site and how little thought they give to actual content and what SEO really means? Good call!

  2. As an alumnus with a webb development degree I am interested in upping page rankings. I have read about this tactic and others, such as providing fake pages for bots that are rife with nothing but keywords, a page the public never sees because bots are redirected by “sniffing”. The end result of any blackhat tactics are the same…search engine blacklisting.

    I amfollowing your blog and hope to recieve some advice on the right way to increase exposure. How about it?

    • Leiulf,

      Thanks for following my blog. I think the black hat tactic you are referring to is known as cloaking, something that will eventually hurt a websites rankings.

      I try and write at least one article per week, mostly on local seo for small businesses. I hope you find them entertaining and educational, as I learn this like most…trial and error.


      Duane Baumgartner

  3. E-book authors are notorious for doing something similar on Amazon to boost their ratings … often with hilarious results when they get outed for having a bunch of 5-star reviews from their parents/spouses/selves/etc. Well, hilarious if you’re not them, at least.

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