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Fake restaurant reviews can lead to 'bankruptcy', says Got Juice

Published:  10 September, 2012

Online reputation management company, Got Juice has revealed one in 10 consumer reviews from sites such as Qype, Yelp and Trip Advisor are fake, causing restaurants to lose out on new sales or worse.

It says the sites encourage consumers to write reviews but do not authenticate them or attempt to prove that the reviewer is genuine.

Its research reveals 85% of consumers now search for reviews and recommendations online before making a purchase. It also states that 95% of potential customers will not buy if they read a negative review and companies with positive reviews convert 183% more new business than those with no reviews or negative reviews.

Mark Hall, managing director, Got Juice, said:  "A single bad review can ruin the chances of gaining new customers and create a long standing, horrible word of mouth campaign offline. If left, the review could quickly lead the company to bankruptcy.

"Although the UK defamation law is in place to protect businesses and individuals from unjust mentions online, this law is difficult to enforce, as the vast majority of review sites are based overseas and do not acknowledge the UK law."

Hall added that even if a business has no reviews, that can be equally as harmful as a negative one; with over 70% of new business inquiries coming from reviews, referrals and word of mouth.

He advises businesses that receive a negative review to respond calmly to the customer online, and not take it personally. "A good response would be to offer an apology and a invitation to discuss things in more detail," he said.

"What ever you do, do not argue or defend your business, as this will only lead to more negative comments and an increased chance of the content appearing on the first page of the search engine results pages."

Got Juice focuses on helping businesses gain positive reviews and to fight back and remove unwanted negative press from review sites and from the first page of Google.

"It may be possible in some cases to remove the negative review or comment, but in many cases this requires professional guidance and management," said Hall.

The got juice blog offers free expert advice and tips on topics such as; how to improve your personal reputation.