Social media, together with other sites are filled with user reviews of products, restaurants, services, and more. These range from the annoying but harmless “likes” on Facebook to detailed and well-written reviews on sites such as Yelp. But if you think all online user reviews are helpful and trustworthy, you may be in for a nasty surprise.
There is a growing trend of fake online user reviews that are intended to deceive potential customers. Social media has also made it easy for anyone to create new websites and appear as someone or something they’re not.
There are many examples of fake websites with user reviews that seem genuine but are made up by creators intending to deceive readers. Before trusting any website with user-submitted content, be sure to check the site for the following red flags:
Check the Website
Check the Website’s Reputation
You can check the reputation of the website where the reviews are posted in various ways. You can find out how long the website has been in business, who owns it, and more. If the website has been around for years, has a large and reputable following, and is well-known by those in your industry, it’s more likely to be trustworthy and reliable. Similarly, if the website has a poor reputation, has been shut down due to legal issues, or has a large number of negative reviews, it’s best to avoid it when searching for reviews.
Check the Company’s Background
Be sure to check the company or person who is behind the website where the reviews are posted. You can find out a lot of information about a site’s owner or host using simple online tools.
Look for information about their business type, ownership, address, websites, phone numbers, and more. If the company has a valid business address and phone number, it’s likely a real business.
If the address leads to a residential home and the phone number is out of service, it’s likely a fake website. If the information has been altered or is inconsistent, it’s likely a fake website.
Popular Online Review Sites
Google is the world’s most popular search engine, and you can use it to find out if a website is legitimate or not. If you type the address of a website into Google, the search engine will show you the website’s “ranking”, which is its position on the search engine’s list.
The ranking is determined by a variety of factors, including how often the website is linked to and “spun” by other websites. If no spinning websites are linking to the site, the website will have a low ranking on Google.
If many spinning websites are linking to the site, the site will have a high ranking on Google. If the site has a low ranking, beware. It’s probably a fake website. If the site has a high ranking, however, it is probably legitimate.
Yelp is the most popular business review website. It’s like a social network for businesses, with each business having its page where customers can post reviews. The great thing about Yelp is that you can use advanced search operators to find websites with fake reviews.
For example, you can search for a specific website with the name “Fiverr”, which will return all the websites with that name. If you then click on the “reviews” tab, you can see if they have fake reviews.
TripAdvisor is the most popular travel review website, with millions of reviews of hotels, airlines, travel companies, and more. It’s like a social network for travelers, with each business having its page where customers can post reviews.
The great thing about TripAdvisor is that you can use advanced search operators to find websites with fake reviews. For example, you can search for a specific website with the name “booking”, which will return all the websites with that name. If you then click on the “reviews” tab, you can see if they have fake reviews.
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, with billions of active users. Anyone can create a Facebook page for any type of business or person. You can use Facebook’s search box to find a specific person’s page and see if they have any reviews. If they do, you can check if the reviews are fake.
Note: If you see a website with many positive reviews and no negative or suspicious reviews, that’s a good sign. But if you see a website with many positive reviews and no negative reviews, that’s a bad sign. The website likely paid people to write positive reviews for it. We will talk more about red flags later.
A Software as a Service (SaaS) based solution that constantly adds and enhances features to grow with the internet and the industry. Small businesses, multi-location, and enterprises will find the right combination of features to drive your business up.
It is a robust resolution to cultivate and manage your customer feedback and online reviews. With dozens of options, and customizations, to satisfy your customer experience goals. Some of the options are:
- Generating Review & Feedback
- Reputation & Review Monitoring
- Marketing & SEO
Red Flags to Identify Fake Online Reviews
There are a few key red flags that indicate a fake online review. These signs include Misspellings and grammatical errors, unnatural language or forced sentences, signs of paid online reviews, and more.
If a review is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, it may be fake. If the review seems forced or unnatural, it may be fake. If the review reads like a sales pitch or commercial, it may be fake.
If the review sounds like it was written by someone who doesn’t know the product or service well, it may be fake.
Misspellings and Grammatical Errors
If a review has a large number of misspellings and grammatical errors, it may be fake. This is a common sign of a fake online review. If the reviewer uses an unnatural or forced sentence structure, doesn’t have a complete sentence, or uses broken grammar, it may be fake. This is another sign of a fake online review. If the review sounds like it was written by someone who doesn’t know the product or service well or doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about, it may be fake.
Unnatural Language or Forced Sentences
If a review sounds fake, it may be because the sentences are unnatural or forced. This is a common sign of a fake online review. If the reviewer uses overly flowery or exaggerated language, it may be fake.
If the review uses overly flowery language and doesn’t make sense, it may be fake. It may be fake if the review reads like a sales pitch or commercial. This is another sign of a fake online review.
Signs of Paid Online Reviews
If a review is overly optimistic, has no negatives, and praises the product or service in general, it may be a sign that it’s fake. A fake or paid review will often list the same benefits or features, as well as praise the product or service in general.
This type of review will often be very general and not mention any specific features. If a review is overly negative but has no positives, it may be fake. A fake or paid review will often list the same reasons for disliking a product or service. These reasons may reference specific names or times they had an issue with the company. They may mention specific issues, problems, and more.
Bait and Switch With Paid Reviews
Another sign of a fake online review is the bait and switch with paid reviews. This happens when a company pays for positive reviews but doesn’t follow through with payment.
This is very common practice with fake online reviews and is often hard to prove. If a company promises to pay you for a positive review but doesn’t follow through, it’s likely a fake review. There are a few ways to avoid fake reviews and make sure you’re only reading authentic user reviews.
First, avoid new and unestablished websites with user reviews. Look for inconsistencies, red flags, and more when reading online reviews. Avoid new websites with paid reviews and be sure to check the reviews for signs of fakery.
Look for Inconsistencies
When reading online reviews, look for inconsistencies between different reviews. If several reviews are overly positive or overly negative or don’t make sense, they could be fake.
For example, if all reviews are positive but there are no negatives listed, or if they’re overly negative but there’s no praise, they could be fake. Fake positive reviews tend to list the same benefits or features, as well as praise the product or service in general.
They often don’t mention any specific features and are very general. Fake negative reviews often use the same reasons for disliking a product or service. They may reference specific names or times they had an issue with the company. They may mention specific issues, problems, and more.
How Businesses Should Address Fake Reviews
Fake reviews can be reported to the website hosting them and can also be reported to Google, the owner of the world’s most popular search engine. If a website has been reported as hosting fake reviews, it will likely lose its ranking on Google’s list of top websites, making it harder for potential customers to find it.
Once Google has identified a website as hosting fake reviews, it will attempt to remove the review and/or ban the website. Fake reviews, however, are not all bad. They can help businesses gain more customers and gain more trust among consumers.
If you are a business owner who has been the victim of fake reviews, it’s best not to respond to them. Instead, let the reviews sit on your website. You can also ask your customers to report any suspicious reviews they may see on your website.
Bottom Line: Caution Is the Key
A well-written review can provide helpful insight into a product, service, or company. These reviews are usually written by legitimate customers who want to share their experiences. But with the rise of fake online reviews, it’s important to be careful.
These fake reviews can deceive unsuspecting readers and cost them time and money. Caution is key when reading online reviews. Be sure to check the website where they are posted, check the company hosting the website, look for inconsistencies and red flags, and use your best judgment.
You can also avoid fake reviews by staying away from new and unestablished websites with user reviews.
Articles You Might Want To Read: