Offering an incentive for reviews puts you under truth in advertising laws in most countries but asking for reviews without any incentive is usually safe. If you are unsure about your country, it is best to consult a lawyer.
But there’s another layer of possible restrictions than just the legal ones and that is each review site’s terms of service (TOS).
For sites like Yelp, they have no business without their reviews and so they put alot of effort in to protecting the integrity of reviews. That includes making asking for reviews against their terms of service.
Other companies, like Google, encourage the practice.
Here are some of the most popular review sites and their policies on asking for reviews.
Asking for Reviews is Against the TOS
These sites explicitly forbid asking for reviews.
- Yelp: Strictly against their TOS. Ask visitors to check in with the Yelp app and Yelp will ask for you.
- Zomato: Soliciting reviews is against their guidelines.
Asking for Reviews is Acceptable
All of these sites either have a policy that explicitly allows review requests, have a policy that does not mention review requests, or encourage asking for reviews in blog posts and other non-official documents.
- Amazon: Amazon has strict rules against manipulating reviews but asking for a review seems to be acceptable.
- Angie’s List: They encourage you to send customers directly to their review tools.
- Avvo: They have a community guidelines page that covers businesses and professionals with no mention of asking for reviews.
- Better Busines Bureau: Each region seems to have their own policy, but asking for reviews is generally encouraged.
- Demandforce: Demandforce has a fairly extensive terms of service that has a section on reviews which in no way prohibits asking for reviews.
- Google: It’s easy to fall afoul of their filters. Setting up a review station is not allowed, for example, but asking for a review is fine. Check out the “Conflict of Interest” bullet on Google’s review and photo policies page.
- Houzz: They encourage you to ask for reviews through their interface. It is not clear if asking people through email is acceptable.
- TripAdvisor: Although they don’t have a specific policy page saying what is allowed, TripAdvisor has published a number of blog posts on asking for reviews.
- TrustPilot: Another site without a specific policy page but a number of posts telling business owners how to ask for reviews.
- TrustRadius: TrustRadius allows software vendors to ask for reviews as long as they are marked as “Invited by: Vendor”.
- Yahoo Local: They have a review guidelines page that doesn’t mention asking for reviews.
- YellowPages: They have specific review guidelines for business owners that make no mention of asking for reviews.
No Obvious Policy
These sites don’t have any easy to find documents covering terms of service for businesses.
- G2 Crowd
- HomeStars: They seem to want you to ask for reviews through premium services but it is not clear of asking for reviews is against the TOS for companies that don’t pay for premium.
- Judy’s Book
- Trusted Pros
These policies are subject to change. Please contact me or leave a comment and let me know when a listing needs an update.