Just caught this article in the NYTimes about how Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had fined Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company, $300,000 for ordering its employees to write fake reviews of its face-lift procedure on sites like RealSelf.
Let’s put aside the ethics of faking reviews for a minute and reflect on how effective a strategy this was for Lifestyle Lift cost wise:
Pros: They probably didn’t factor this in, but because they got caught, their site is now generating a lot of links. Variations of “facelift”, “cosmetic surgery”, “neck lift”, etc. are not hugely expensive to buy ($5-$10 CPC), but I guess if they could translate those links into some page one rankings it could easily be worth $300K. Cons: Page one of Google for “lifestyle lift” is already littered with results about this story. My bet is unless they do some reputation management SEO these aren’t going away anytime soon. So even if they do rank on page one for some great terms, sooner or later a prospective patient is going to Google them, see this story and likely bail. Hmm, something like this could tank their whole business pretty quickly. Maybe it wasn’t worth the page one rankings? It’s too bad Lifestyle Lift went down this route, but it’s understandable. There probably was a lot of negative word of mouth about them already in the cosmetic surgery communities. Here’s the first thing I saw after I clicked on the third SERP result for “lifestyle lift” – “Lifestyle lift for jowls, turkey neck – unsure if it was worth it”While it’s hard to overcome a bad product or service, perhaps if they had consulted with a knowledgable SEO/Reputation Management pro at least they could have come up with an alternate strategy that would not have cost so much, or if it had, at least it would have had a better ROI. Some tips for Lifestyle Lift in the future:
1. SEO your site! At least update your title tags with some good keywords. Hell update your whole site. It’s a bit of a tired, hard-to-read thing as is. If you can’t control what people are saying about you online at least try to get some traffic for valuable keywords and bypass them.
2. Participate in social media without faking it. If Ms. Turkey Neck is not saying nice things address her concerns. Maybe you need to redo her turkey neck. I guarantee if you turn her turkey neck into a swan neck, she will be your loudest supporter in these communities. And what would that cost you? My guess is the margins on turkey neck surgery & neck lifts, among other things, are pretty fat.
3. Work with a reputation management pro who can help you move a lot of those pesky little negative links off of page one.
4. Better yet, give your customers reasons to say nice things about you online. Even if you don’t have a problem with the ethics of fake reviews, they do often violate the terms of service of the reviews website. And as Lifestyle Lift discovered, that little fact can cost you. So next time you are thinking it might be a good idea to post some fake reviews of your business on the Web, remember you might be blowing all the cash you saved up to fix your damn turkey neck.
For more points of view on turkey-neckgate:
Unethical Customer Reviews Can Cost You Big – Search Influence
Plastic Surgery Co Settles With NYS Over False Reviews – Blumenthal’s Blog
What is the Lifestyle Lift Procedure? – Official Site
And here’s the Lifestye Lift Procedure Video from YouTube: