… it is against our reviews guidelines to trade money for reviews …
That’s in response to a question about a Minnesota plumber that asks customers to leave reviews online, then chooses one of them to win a refund of the service that was reviewed.
In other words, the plumber was asking lots of customers to write reviews, but only choosing one of them as a prize winner — so not every review was “paid” by giving a reward, but Google says even contests like that are a no-no.
As Mike points out in his article, that’s exactly what Google has done time and time again in its various contests that ask for reviews and promise one reviewer a prize … like this one from last March:
— Google Portland (@GooglePDX) March 21, 2012
Heck, when Google launched its current local community/review outreach program (what was then called Hotpot), it did so with contests aimed at attracting reviews.
Based on this latest clarification, Google was most certainly violating its own policies on incentivizing reviews.
As far as I’m aware, it’s been a while since Google has run any similar contests. We’ll see how long that continues….