Joe Meloni

Google is often the company that comes to mind when marketers think of penalties for unethical behavior on the web. However, The New York Times reported recently that Yelp to post disclaimers on several businesses’ profile pages after they paid for favorable reviews.

According to the report, these pages will feature user warnings for the next three months as part of their punishment. Yelp seeks to offer a site featuring genuine, merit-based user-generated content and the company will likely continue to target any attempts to artificially influence reviews.

Yelp’s decision speaks to the growing movement of user focus from different companies on the web. From Google’s frequent algorithm updates to paid review consequences on Yelp, portal sites want to deliver valuable content to their visitors. Paying for positive reviews, buying links and other spam practices can result penalties for sites and businesses.

For any company looking to improve visibility or reputation on the web, an organic content strategy is most likely to help. Sharing relevant information and offering high-quality products and services is the best path to success.

In terms of gradually building a quality search ranking, a former Google employee recently offered some insight during an interview. Brafton reported that Andrew Weyher said that a good SEO strategy is one that “forgets SEO.” Essentially, provide users with relevant information and search marketing will steadily improve. The same is true with winning positive reviews on Yelp. Giving customers good experiences is the easiest way to appeal to others on the site.

Brands that want to build user-generated content should also remember to make it easy for customers to offer reflections. Sixty-four percent of millennials say that companies should offer more options for them to share their opinions.