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Even Positive Fake Reviews Can Improve Paid Search Conversion Rates

It looks like bogus online reviews for rehab centers are back. They began appearing on Craigslist sometime in March, promoting part-time jobs for a social-media assistant. Applicants are directed to sign up for positions at seorehabs.com, a site that promotes itself as “leaders in addiction-recovery consulting,” writes Brian Krebs, author of the blog KrebsonSecurity and former Washington Post author on security.

Kerbs points to an ad explaining assistants can earn a minimum of $25 just for creating individual Google for Business listings tied to a few dozen generic-sounding addiction recovery center names, such as “Integra Addiction Center,” and “First Exit Recovery.”

In fact, there are a whole list of rules, per Krebs. Applicants are instructed on how to get through Google’s anti-abuse process for creating listings, which include receiving a postcard through the U.S. mail from Google that contains a PIN that applicant must enter at Google’s site before a listing can be created.

They also are “cautioned not to create more than two listings per street address, but otherwise, to use any U.S.-based street address and to leave blank the phone number and Web site for the new business listing,” he writes.

In his story Scientology Seeks Captive Converts Via Google Maps, Drug Rehab Centers, Krebs walks through how a network of fake online reviews that steered Internet searches toward rehab centers funded by Scientology supporters was set up by TopSeek.

Responding to reviews can improve paid search conversion rates, according to a study from digital agency Location3.

Earlier this week, Location4 released a new study using 16 months of historical AdWords campaign data; 93 million impressions; 32 months of historical user review data; about 72,000 reviews; and 7,009 business locations. From that data the findings suggest more review stars means higher paid search conversion rates.

Although Location3’s findings do not directly correlate to Kreb’s findings, the examples are interesting to consider. For instance, businesses in the lowest grouping had an average of 3.31 stars, translating into an average conversion rate of 10.4%. And the best-rated segment had an average of 4.96 stars, which translated into a 12.83% conversion rate.

If a brand could convert for the lowest-rated locations at the same rate as the highest-rated, then it would see an increase of more than 13,000 additional leads, a 23%+ gain in leads, according to the findings.

Frequency of reviews also has a strong relationship between review replies and the paid search conversion rate.

Locations with a higher volume of replies and reply rate corresponded with higher conversion rates. The highest-rated segment of reviews didn’t have the highest reply rate, due to most already being five-star reviews, according to Location3.

Locations with the highest reply rate of 8.13% averaged a conversion rate of 13.86%, and locations with the lowest reply rate of 5.73% averaged a conversion rate of 10.42%

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