There are a lot of things you’re going to learn as you begin to explore website-building, marketing and trafficking techniques, and ways to bring people over to your business on a long-term, repeatable basis.

Some of what you learn are going to be good, solid, reliable methods. Other things you learn, more of the black-hat variety, are going to be snake oil salesman tricks – ways in which to dupe your audience. One of these ways is to accept paid reviews.

Now, don’t let this give you the wrong impression. A paid review does not necessarily have to be a crooked review. However, paying a writer money to write something for you automatically implies that they’re writing what you want them to write. Having them write a review then gives the automatic impression that you’re paying them to write a positive review. After all, who on earth would pay to have their product or service slammed in a negative fashion? No one.

So, if you’re hiring content writers to write basic content for your site and to put your product or service into a positive light, that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s something you should do. But if you’re trying to pass a paid review off as an unbiased review written by a real user of your business, this is where you’re crossing the line and will end up causing more harm than good with the decision.

1. A generic feel

There’s just something about paid reviews that have a generic feel about them. They’re never too specific about the product. You don’t learn anything from them other than the writer really loves your product. Now, of course, you could offer incentives for real-life users of your product/service to write reviews about their experience with them. And if you only wanted to post the best among them, that’s your prerogative. But outright paying writers to flesh out falsehoods is something I hope you avoid.

2. Dishonesty comes out

As any software engineer, physicist or anyone else in a related field will tell you, any exploit in a system makes the entire system exploitable. In other words, the smallest hole in a dam is going to cause a flood eventually. This is the case with paid reviews on your site. You’re essentially paying people to review your product/service in a positive light. Having anything like this leak out will cripple your credibility.

3. Your product/service should speak

The biggest reason to avoid paying someone else to write a review for your site is that the product you’re offering should always be able to speak for itself. If you’re doing things correctly and if you’re offering something the public wants and admires, the good reviews are going to be found on your site (if you allow comments) and on other sites. You won’t have to pay for positive press as long as you’re doing your job correctly.

Writing paid reviews is how a lot of freelancers make their living. A lot of website owners out there want to push their way through the business ranks by having the most positive spin put on their products as possible. However, as this pertains to you and your long-term brand in online business, try to do things organically without forcing the issue. It’s just better for everyone.