Every local business wants to show up at the top of the search results for their town. That’s a given. However, some businesses break Google My Business guidelines to get that prized top spot. While those businesses may seem some short-term success, eventually Google will catch on and penalize those business for spamming the algorithm and violating Google’s terms.

In order to rank well, a dishonest businesses may resort to black hat tactics or keyword stuffing, but those aren’t the only tricks it may resort to because Google puts a lot of value in positive reviews. Unlike Yelp which discourages business from asking customers for reviews, Google doesn’t mind if to you ask nicely for a review. In fact, Google allows you to send a link to customers reminding them to leave a review. What Google doesn’t like is when businesses offer customers incentives to leave a positive review, force customers to give a review on the spot, or bully customers into leaving positive reviews.

Since getting customers to leave a review can be challenging, some business owners will swap reviews with businesses they aren’t competing against. From their perspective, everybody wins, Google isn’t any wiser, and no one gets hurt. The truth is someone does get hurt: their business.

Google doesn’t always catch onto suspicious activity immediately, but the company does have employees watching and allows other users to report illegitimate reviews. Getting caught with a significant number of reviews that weren’t created by real customers will not only make Google mad, but also signals to potential customers that a business is untrustworthy and that they should go elsewhere. Why would someone want to go to a business that relies on fake reviews to rank well? Numerous fake reviews certainly aren’t a sign of a business with confidence in its products or services.

By making sure you are abiding by Google My Business guidelines, your business won’t have to worry about getting caught doing something wrong and what impact that will have on your search results. If anything, your businesses rankings will improve as your competitors’ tactics are discovered.