When you want to know what another person thinks about a product, restaurant, movie, or anything else that can be reviewed, you probably check an online review site. Reviews are powerful tools for consumers because they allow them to get insight into the experiences of others before taking a leap of faith with their own money and time.
However, online review sites are also fraught with problems — many of which users and businesses have grown tired of hearing about. Unfair reviews from competitors, fake reviews, incentivized reviews, and more all exist under this umbrella.
With so many issues facing these sites, it’s no wonder that people and businesses are losing trust in them. But it’s not too late to fix things. Here are the six biggest problems with online reviews and how you can fix them:
6 Biggest Problems Online Reviews
1. Fake Reviews
This is a big one. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be an accurate list of problems if this weren’t number one. Fake reviews are reviews that have been written by fake users or by customers as a business owners in an attempt to manipulate the site’s algorithm and get higher rankings.
While these reviews are easy to spot if you know what to look for, consumers can’t necessarily tell if a review is fake. That’s one of the reasons why they have such a devastating effect on these review sites; they damage the credibility of the entire system. There are a few ways to avoid fake reviews, but the best is to never ask customers to write them in the first place.
If you’re giving people products as a gift, for example, don’t ask them to write a review in return. Even better: offer a discount in exchange for a non-binding review. That way, the review is authentic, but you can still use it as a marketing tool.
2. Incentivized Reviews
This is a type of fake review. Incentivized reviews are reviews written by people who receive a discounted or free product in return. The problem is that these people aren’t writing their reviews because they think the product is worth the money; they’re writing them because they got something for it.
That’s not to say that all discounted products are incentivized reviews. But it does mean that you have to be careful about the products you choose to offer in exchange for reviews. If you do decide to do this, make sure that you’re being completely transparent about the process.
Don’t try to hide the fact that you got the review in exchange for a discounted product. Instead, be honest about the process so that your reviews aren’t discounted but are still authentic.
3. Banned Reviewers
One of the problems with online review sites is that they don’t always do a great job of vetting the people who are allowed to post reviews. That means that you might see reviews on your site from people who are misusing the platform or who have a conflict of interest.
At the same time, you may want to ban a reviewer from your site even though they’ve done nothing wrong. The problem is that you can’t. If a reviewer has done nothing wrong, you can’t kick them off your site. On the other hand, if they’ve done something wrong, you can’t kick them off your site. That’s one reason why this is such a big problem.
Another reason is that banned reviewers often turn their anger toward the site. They’ll write awful reviews, they’ll complain to the site’s owners, and they’ll do everything they can to try to get the site shut down. Banning reviewers from your site may be a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good solution.
4. Bias From Competitors
Part of the problem with business reviews is that businesses are allowed to post their reviews. That’s great because you can ask your happy customers to post reviews on your site, but it also means that your competitors can post reviews on their site while they bash your business.
They can even go so far as to try to get your customers to write negative reviews while praising their business. That’s a problem not just because it’s dishonest but also because it can create an unfair bias on your site. If you see that your customers are bashing your business but praising a competitor, it’s probably because they were encouraged to do so.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about this problem. All you can do is try to combat it. You can ask your customers to write positive reviews about your business and to leave negative reviews about the competitor.
5. Conflicting Ratings and Scores
This is more of a problem with user-generated content sites like Amazon than it is with review sites. But it’s so important that it deserves its section. Conflicting ratings and scores occur when someone rates your product with five stars but then leaves a one-star review. Or when someone rates your product with four stars but writes a two-star review.
At first glance, this isn’t a huge problem. But it is a sign that people may be trying to manipulate the system. If they’re rating the product and reviewing it two different ways, they may be trying to push both numbers higher or lower.
At the same time, this is a problem that you can help fix. If a customer leaves you a bad review and then a good rating, try to reach out to them and ask them to explain the discrepancy. If they have a good reason, you have to accept it. But if the reason is suspicious, you can ban them from your site.
6. Lack of Transparency
This is an ongoing problem for review sites, but it can be fixed. The biggest problem with these sites is that many people don’t understand how the algorithm works. They don’t know what criteria are used to rank businesses on the site or how reviews are selected to be featured.
They don’t know how the system works, and they don’t know what they can do to improve their rankings. This is a problem because it leaves customers feeling like they can’t make an informed decision or that they can’t make a decision at all. It leaves businesses feeling like the system is rigged against them or that they can’t do anything to improve their rankings.
At the same time, it leaves review sites open to manipulation. If people know that the system is secret, they can try to game it. At the same time, review sites have a responsibility to be transparent with their systems so that everyone can understand them. If they don’t, they’re only hurting themselves.
How To Fix These Problems?
Fake Reviews Problem
Fake reviews can be extremely difficult to detect, so you may want to take extra precautions. You can start by only allowing verified purchases. This will help you to get better insight into the person behind the purchase, and you can use that information to keep out anyone who you think might be trying to post a fake review.
You can also manually review borderline purchases to make sure that you’re not letting in anyone who doesn’t plan on purchasing from you. You can also use programs like fake review detection software to more thoroughly comb through your reviews and identify fakes.
You can combat this problem by prohibiting reviews that have been written in exchange for a benefit. You can do this by adding a clause to your terms and conditions that states that any review must be unbiased and must not have been written in exchange for a benefit.
If you’re trying to avoid reviews that have been written by banned people, you can use IP address checking software to detect where a reviewer is located. You can also use IP address checking software to make sure that you aren’t letting in reviews that have been written by people who don’t live in your country.
How To Address Bias From Competitors Problem?
If you notice that the reviews being written about your products aren’t accurate or unbiased, you can try using review moderation software to automatically detect and delete these reviews.
This can help you to avoid letting in reviews that were written by people who are biased against your company and who aren’t capable of providing an accurate review.
Conflicting Ratings And Scores
To combat this problem, you can set up your systems so that ratings and scores are shown in different sections of your review.
Once you’ve done this, you can use review moderation software to automatically detect and delete reviews that don’t show ratings and scores in separate sections.
How To Address Lack Of Transparency Problem?
If you want to combat this problem, you can improve transparency in a few different ways. First, you can post your review guidelines so that people know what content is allowed in reviews.
You can also consider adding review examples so that people can see examples of reviews that you would like to see posted. You can also consider adding a review guide so that people can see how the review system works.
Finally, you can use review moderation software to automatically detect and delete reviews that don’t follow your rules.
Lack Of Trust
To combat this, you can take the steps listed above to improve the trustworthiness of your reviews. You can also make sure that you are regularly deleting reviews that don’t follow your rules. This will help you to keep your reviews clean and trustworthy.
Review sites are great tools for customers and businesses alike. Unfortunately, they also have a few serious problems that need to be fixed. Fake reviews, incentivized reviews, banned reviewers, bias from competitors, and conflicting ratings and scores can all destroy your review site’s credibility.
You need to be honest about how you accept reviews and be transparent with how your site works. You also need to work toward bringing more transparency to the review industry as a whole.
Unfair reviews from competitors, fake reviews, incentivized reviews, and more all exist under this umbrella. With so many issues facing these sites, it’s no wonder that people and businesses are losing trust in them. But it’s not too late to fix things.
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