Guide to FTC Compliance for Reputation Management


Trent Ruffolo, Solutions Product Marketing Manager
Sherman Tabor, Solutions Product Marketing Manager

Product: Reviews
Blog Date: February 2022

When talking with clients, one of the most frequent questions we get is: can we only post positive reviews on our website and hide the rest? And the quick answer: no! Publishing only positive reviews for consumers to see — known as review suppression (or "review gating," or "selective review publication") — may seem like a quick and easy way to improve your online reputation, but in reality it is a violation that puts your brand at serious legal and financial risk.

A fast-fashion retailer for women was recently fined $4.2 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for suppressing its negative reviews. This company installed a third-party review management interface that automatically published all positive reviews while withholding hundreds of thousands of negative reviews from their site.

Review suppression can include any process — automated or not — by which positive reviews (typically reviews with a rating of 4-5 stars) are published online while negative reviews (typically reviews with a rating of 1-3 stars) are hidden from consumers. The retailer discussed above certainly isn't the only company partaking in such behavior; many other players have implemented similar practices and policies.

But agencies like the FTC are beginning to crack down — 10 third-party reviews vendors recently received warning notices from the FTC based on their questionable review management practices.

You might be asking: what is the Federal Trade Commission, and what can they do? The FTC is a federal agency that aims to protect consumers by regulating unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent business practices. They have the authority to enforce broad prohibition against companies or individuals who participate in these types of behavior.

And if your team works with an external reviews vendor, you might assume that you are protected from penalties inflicted by agencies like the FTC. After all, shouldn't that vendor be responsible for any wrongdoing? Unfortunately, that's rarely how it plays out. According to the FTC, in regard to working with a third-party reviews vendor, "you can be held responsible for what they do on your behalf."

So, what do you need to do (and NOT do)?

First and foremost, don't suppress negative reviews. Publish all reviews you generate on your website to build better brand trust and to stay compliant with federal rules and regulations. Misrepresentation of reviews is a deceptive and misleading tactic that the FTC views as grounds to issue punishment.

Instead of suppressing negative reviews, your team should embrace this kind of feedback and respond most effectively. Thoughtful responses not only go a long way with retaining existing customers, but they can also help attract potential new customers! According to ReviewTrackers, 45% of consumers say they're more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.

Additionally, do not edit reviews to alter their message. For example, don't change words to make a negative review sound more positive. In the same vein, you should not prevent or discourage consumers from submitting negative reviews. This is just as dishonest and misleading as hiding negative reviews, and could be treated as such by the FTC.

Finally, your business should be wary about working with any company that supports review suppression features. The FTC has clearly shown they are able and willing to enforce significant penalties at the business' expense. It's important that you follow best practices and work with reviews vendors that do the same. Yext's reputation management tools, such as sentiment analysis and intelligent review response make it easy to follow reviews best practices and stay connected with your clients. When managed the right way, reviews provide a massive opportunity to interact with your customers, make informed improvements, and ultimately, win more business.

All Blog Posts

Determine Location Intent in a Search Engine

Max Shaw, VP Product

One of the most common use cases for a search engine is finding something by a "location". Here are some basic examples: Cardiologist near Green Bay, Notary near me, Restaurants open now. These are all pretty simple queries, but getting these to work in a search engine is much more complex than you might imagine.

4 Methods for Increasing Site Search Clicks

Rick Swette, UX Research

We know good search drives business impact. It increases conversions and transactions, reduces search bounce rate, and boosts overall customer satisfaction. So, how do we get more people to trust and use site search? We embarked on a study to find this out.

How to Measure the Success of Your Site Search

Basil Polsonetti, Data Insights

Most brands know that site search is a feature their website should have, but unless the site is dominated by e-commerce, it’s often relegated as a check-the-box task when building a new website.

The Danger in Document-Level Sentiment Analysis

Calvin Casalino, Senior Product Manager

In order for your feedback to become an actionable item to help businesses provide a better experience, they need a way to analyze the granular content of all of their reviews, at scale.

Deep Dive into Duplicate Suppression

Dee Luo, Product Manager

Brands know the importance of having accurate information across all the apps, maps, and directories where consumers are searching for information. In a perfect world, powering that brand data and managing each of these listings would be enough to ensure that consumers consistently get the answers they're searching for.

Yext Answers Algorithm Update: Milky Way

Max Shaw, VP Product

Yext Answers is constantly improving it’s search algorithm to provide more relevant results over time. Milky Way is the first official upgrade to the Answers Algorithm and includes a series of important upgrades to provide better search precision and recall.

GMB API Update - Dedicated Food Menus

Dee Luo, Product Manager

On August 24, 2020, Google launched version 4.7 of its Google My Business (GMB) API. This update includes enhancements to how your restaurant locations can sync and display food menus on Google.

Structuring Your Knowledge Graph

Jessie Yorke, Yext Administrator

In this post we are going to discuss strategy and give you some tools to effectively think about structuring your own brand's Knowledge Graph!

Welcome to the Hitchhikers Program

Liz Frailey, VP Developer & Admin Experience

Welcome to Hitchhikers! We are so excited to have you join our mission of creating amazing search experiences for brands of all sizes.

Introducing: Yext Answers Plugin for WordPress

Alex Barbet, Product

Businesses of all sizes use both WordPress and Yext to build amazing client experiences, and as more and more brands around the world add the Yext Answers bar to their WordPress powered sites, we wanted to provide a way to drive their time-to-value even faster.

Yext’s Fall ‘20 Release is Now Live!

Nick Oropall, Senior Product Marketing Manager

For those of you who are new to Hitchhikers — Welcome to Yext's new training platform & community! Hitchhikers will be the home for all of Yext's product and release updates moving forward so we encourage you to create a free user and check out the platform!

Meet the Hitchhikers Team: Alyssa Hubbard

Alyssa Hubbard

Alyssa Hubbard began at Yext in the Upward Rotational Program. Now she is full-time on the Hitchhikers team, working to build a platform to empower our community of Yext power users.

Yext Answers Algorithm Update: Andromeda

Allie Allegra, Senior Product Marketing Manager

We are constantly making improvements to the underlying Answers algorithm. Our latest algorithm release, Andromeda, includes cutting edge improvements that optimize the overall search experience. With this release, our algorithm now has the ability to search semi-structured data. You can now opt-in to access these improvements depending on your configuration.

WCAG and Search: Developing an Accessible Search Experience

Rose Grant, Associate Product Manager

What’s WCAG? WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is not always black and white; its rules often have a variety of interpretations.

Now Available: Shopify Product Catalog Sync for Yext

Lilly Fast, Senior Business Development Manager

Shoppers have questions about your products, and your ability to answer will determine if they buy or if they bounce. But with rapid changes to your business, it can be hard to keep your product information consistently up-to-date.

Now Available: Yext Product Catalog Sync for Magento Commerce, an Adobe Company

Lilly Fast, Senior Business Development Manager

Shoppers have questions about your products, and your ability to answer will determine if they buy or if they bounce. But with rapid changes to your business, it can be hard to keep your product information consistently up-to-date.

A New Way to Search FAQS

Max Davish, Associate Product Manager

Semantic search is a new way of searching for FAQs. Instead of looking at keywords, it measures the similarity in meaning between two questions. Answers does this using BERT - the same revolutionary natural language processing technology that powers other Answers features like location detection and entity recognition.

How to Build Discoverable and High-Converting Landing Pages

Sonia Elavia, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Search is a massively important marketing channel. Fifty-three percent of website traffic comes from organic search, so it’s critical that businesses optimize for these experiences. But how do you actually build out a strong presence in organic search? Having search-optimized landing pages is critical.

Exporters: From Yext to Your Listings

Calvin Casalino, Senior Product Manager

Our Listings delivery pipeline ensures your data stored in the Knowledge Graph appears on Listings everywhere consumers are asking questions. How do we make sure your data is updated on all publishers as quickly as possible while still ensuring data is formatted properly for each endpoint? Yext’s Listings exporters.

2020: Hitchhikers Year in Review

Liz Frailey, VP Developer & Admin Experience

2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year for everyone for a multitude of reasons. On the Hitchhikers Team, we were able to overcome some of the year's obstacles to really transform the program.

Understanding the Answers Algorithm

Pierce Stegman, Data Scientist & Michael Misiewicz, Data Science Manager

See for yourself how the Answers algorithm works on the Understanding the Answers Algorithm site built by our Data Science team!

A Type System for Knowledge Graph Entities

Oscar Li, Software Engineering Lead

Our type system serves as the foundation of the Knowledge Graph by dictating the structure, validation, and display of fields. The type system guarantees the consistency and correctness of any field value retrieved from the Knowledge Graph. This makes it easier for our engineers to reason about code that handles particular fields, for our customers to manage their entity data, and for our publishers to trust the quality of our data.

3 Integrations That Can Help You Get More Out of Yext

Jonathan Gitlin, Content Marketing Manager, Workato

As a Yext user, you’re likely well aware of the platform’s product suite and the value each solution delivers. But did you know that you can provide even better search results for visitors, collect more reviews from customers, and analyze data more closely by integrating Yext with the apps and systems your team already uses?

Google’s Latest API Update: More Hours

Teddy Riker, Associate Product Manager

On February 25th, 2021, Google launched version 4.9 of its Google My Business (GMB) API. This update includes support for additional hours types, for options such as delivery, drive through, and more.

Spring ‘21 Release is Now Live!

Nick Oropall, Senior Manager of Platform Product Marketing

Yext's seasonal releases are always packed with new features and functionality to keep Hitchhikers on the cutting edge of search, and the Spring '21 Release is no different. Across the product suite, we have added new features that will help you to drive value and improve your user experience.