It is well known that offering incentives for reviews such as discounts, gift cards, or giveaways goes against Google’s terms of service. This is being emphasized further by Google stating that charitable donations also go against these terms. Google specified that donations would fall under the fake engagement policy, which reads, “Paying, incentivizing or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience.” A charitable donation would be considered “incentivizing” in this scenario.
This strike against charitable donations follows a September declaration from Google that businesses cannot provide incentives for the removal of reviews. Specifically, encouraging negative reviews to be deleted is not something permitted under an update to the fake engagement policy. Along with not encouraging positive reviews, Google’s updated policy read: “Content that has been incentivized by a business in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services. This includes merchant requests for revision or removal of a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives.”
While the person in the charitable donation scenario isn’t technically receiving an incentive since the money is going to a third party, Google confirmed this is still against its guidelines. Offering a donation can still lead to bias towards a positive review and might not be representative of a genuine experience. Google doesn’t want opinions swayed either way.
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