Fake news? How about fake rankings?

by Dom Genova

There are "gold stars" for sale!

This week I dropped my association with a company that ranks businesses.

I will not tell you what organization in particular that I am talking about. It’s not to protect them­­—it’s to save me the hassle of having to deal with them reading this and sending me a letter from their lawyers (Dewey Cheatem and Howe).

I have an issue with companies that recommend a “gold star” list of businesses that they claim are better. But in reality, the listed business paid for the preferred ranking. I believe that this practice is particularly outrageous if there is no actual validation of the preferred business by the company doing the ranking.

This is called “pay for play” and it does not pass the “smell” test.

The listing company may use the words like validated, assured or preferred or something of that nature for the companies that pay.

The business may pay thousands to be considered part of the “elite” group. It is possible that the listing company does no research at all. As long as the listed business is currently in business, they qualify. The only thing “better” about the higher-ranked business may be their better willingness to participate in this extortion.

Simply put, a bad business can be ranked higher than a good one just because they paid.

So, this week I got fed up and told the company that ranks business not to call me anymore.

So here is my advice:

  1. Look at Google and Facebook reviews because they publish all the reviews and do not offer a “preferred ranking” service.
  2. Look at the number of reviews.
  3. Look at the overall trend of the reviews and get the “feel” for what people are saying. (Personally, I trust a site with hundreds of reviews more than another site with only a few.)
  4. Throw out the outliers­­ -- the really ranting, rambling one and the really glowing one.
  5. Most importantly, talk to someone who has actually dealt with the business.