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Google Confirms Donating to Charities for Reviews is Against Guidelines

Recently I was in a Facebook group where a user posted this question:

“One of my clients is giving a donation to the charity they support with every review you leave, good bad or ugly. Is this paying for a review? I would say not. Sounds like genius to me I think I’ll start doing it myself.”

I wasn’t actually sure of the answer, so I reached out to Google to find out.

According to Google’s guidelines, it’s not okay to offer incentives for reviews:

Paying, incentivising or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience.

In this case, the person leaving the review isn’t technically receiving the incentive since the money is going to a charity, but Google confirmed it is still against the guidelines.  Although the user leaving the review technically isn’t getting the money, it can still lead to bias towards a positive review given the incentive of a donation.  Ultimately, Google doesn’t want the customer experience to be swayed either way.


P.S. I’ll be off pouting because I lost a bet to Colan about this.
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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

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