Friday, May 4, 2012

Review Sites Creating A Problem

The good news is that review websites have provided a forum for customers and businesses to exchange and discuss their sales history working together. The bad news is that the intended use for review websites has completely failed. Review websites, like Google reviews, Yahoo, Yelp, YP, Mechantcircle, Superpages, YP, and others, may have had good intentions but have created a mess for small business.

I am certain the true intention of these review pages was the bottom lines of the sites that host them. If you can create an excuse to have a separate page for every single business on earth, you have just justified 1 billion new ads displaying revenue-generating pages for the review sites.

It may be argued that this is a win-win situation, since the reviews sites, like and YP, get to make huge gains in pages to display ads while businesses get free publicity. This would be nice if it was true.

The review sites have turned into a free for all of fake positive reviews and malicious competition targeting bad reviews. Here in Charlotte, we can easily point out examples of local businesses and services that spend hours every week attacking their competition with negative reviews. These review sites require nothing other than an email account to allow you to post high-ranking, anonymous attacks on your competition. The review sites themselves have no vested interest or financial connection to the validity of the reviews. Ad-displaying pages make the same revenue for these sites with accurate or fake reviews; there is no motivation for these sites to try and insure integrity.

The down side is that the only way this sort of phenomenon resolves itself is through becoming obsolete. Until these sites see less users counting on them and the revenue impacted, they will not change policies to protect businesses. Until that time comes, many of these have become an easily accessible medium for slandering competition and misleading customers. ME

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