SMBs should be wary of deceptive consumer review practices because Yelp is on the lookout for deceptive website content.

Online reviews are playing a more significant role in the way people discover products and select businesses. ContentLEAD previously noted that 85 percent of consumers find companies through website content, and the majority of those searches lead to purchases.

Given what’s at stake, small businesses might be tempted to bolster their reviews on popular sites like Yelp by soliciting rave reviews from customers, family members or friends. Perhaps they pen a few positive remarks to get the conversation going or even pay a third-party vendor to create custom reports.

Yelp has thousands of business pages, and SMBs may think a few false reviews will fly below the site’s radar, but quite the contrary. Yelp has taken action against companies of all sizes using deceptive practices to inflate positive reviews around products or services.

According to an Official Yelp Blog post, a Consumer Alert message will display on company pages for 90 days if the business in question has been found in violation of the site’s standards for organic customer reviews. As with all types of web marketing, natural  content is best and spammy practices can call a business’ reputation into question.