The world of digital marketing is growing at an exponential rate and the number of online platforms is increasing by the day. This has led to a situation where businesses are operating on multiple digital channels to reach their target audience. Online reviews are among the most critical inputs for any business today.
Review sites like Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor, and Reliable Reviews are extremely popular with customers and serve as great reference points for potential patrons. These reviews impact your business directly, whether it’s for good or bad.
Even if you have the best product or service in your niche, a negative review can significantly impact your business. And that’s why spotting fake online reviews are so important! If you want to know how to spot a fake online review, keep reading!
What Is A Fake Online Review?
An online review is a piece of content, generally written by a customer, that is published on a platform, such as Yelp or Amazon, to express his/her experience with a business or product. These reviews are helpful for businesses to improve their sales and brand equity.
Fake reviews are reviews written and published by a person or a company that has received no or very little service or product from the business being reviewed. These reviews are fraudulent and go against the integrity of the review sites by misguiding customers and bringing down the standards of these sites.
Fake reviews are not new, but with ever-growing businesses in almost every niche, the competition to get noticed is growing fiercer by the day. The desperation to get more customers and increase sales has led many businesses to hire ‘review writers’ who write fake reviews about their products and services.
5 Types Of Fake Reviews
There are a few different types of fake reviews you might come across. Some are more obvious than others, but the key to spotting them is being aware of the different kinds of reviews you might encounter. Fake reviews are written:
1. By The Business Owner
The most common form of fake reviews are those written by the business owner. They’re usually positive and encourage people to try out the business. These reviews are a big no-no and must be removed as soon as possible. These are not reviews but paid advertisements and are against the terms of service of most review sites.
The owner of the business writes positive reviews about his/her own business to boost the rating of the business. These reviews are mostly written by a family member/friend.
2. By Employees
Similarly, fake reviews written by employees are also very common. Employees who are part of your team may have genuine experiences with your company but may write fake reviews to make it look like the product/service is of higher quality.
The employees write fake reviews about the business because they are compensated for it. This may be done as a result of management pressure or simply because an employee received a bribe or incentive to do it.
3. By Customers
This is the most dangerous form of fake reviews as they are usually posted by disgruntled customers. These reviews are usually negative and are written with malicious intent.
4. On Behalf Of Customers
This is another dangerous form of fake reviews. In this case, a third party writes a review on behalf of a client and makes it sound like the review is coming from an actual customer.
This is another highly deceptive form of fake reviews and should be removed at the earliest.
5. By Competitors
This is another common form of fake review in which a competitor posts a negative review on your product/service. Competitors try to bring down the ratings of a business by writing false reviews about them.
This is a very unethical practice and should be reported and removed as soon as possible.
Reasons Why Fake Reviews Are Increasing
There are various reasons why fake reviews are on the rise. Let us discuss a few of them in detail.
Lack Of Awareness About The Consequences
Most people don’t even realize that writing reviews to gain more customers is a crime. They do not realize that the review sites have a mechanism to check if the review is genuine or fake.
Lack Of Knowledge
Some people may not know how to write a genuine review. They may not know what details are important or how to structure their review properly. This is why some people write incomplete reviews or just fill the blanks with information that doesn’t make sense.
Desire To Please The Business Owner
Some people write fake reviews because they want to please the business owner. They may want to get back to the business owner because they were treated so well when they were shopping at the store.
Desperation To Succeed
Some people write fake reviews because they desperately want to succeed in their business. They may have a product that has no reviews and they feel it is necessary to have a few positive reviews to get more customers.
Lack Of Awareness About Detecting Fake Reviews
Some people are not even aware that these reviews are fake. They may not know how to detect a fake review and may end up writing a genuine review that is false.
5 Limiting Factors In Detecting Fake Reviews
For a long time, businesses have been fighting against fake reviews, trying to limit their impact on sales and brand equity. While the review sites have been taking steps to minimize fraudulent reviews, there are still a few limiting factors. 1. Fraudulent reviewers may change their tactics.
- Reviewers may use different IPs, devices, and even languages to mislead the review sites’ algorithms.
- Review sites may change their policies and algorithms, making it harder to detect the fakers.
- Reviewers can exploit loopholes in the review site’s policies to publish fraudulent reviews.
- Review sites may face extra pressure to silence critics who pose legitimate complaints against a company.
How To Spot A Fake Review?
We have listed the most common traits of fake reviews and provided detailed explanations as to why these are signs of a fake review. As you read through this list, keep an eye out for these traits in your competitors’ reviews. If you find a number of these traits in a single review, it may be a fake review.
Using A Vague Title
Fake reviewers often use vague and confusing titles like “Great Product” or “Excellent service”. Real reviewers are specific in their titles, giving a detailed description of their experience.
Having Exaggerated Claims
Fake reviewers exaggerate the product’s quality and benefits, going beyond what is reasonable. For example, a review for a shaver that claims it can also be used to shave your legs is most likely a fake review.
Having High-Quality Grammatical Errors
Fake reviewers often go overboard with their claims, but they don’t put as much effort into making their reviews grammatically correct.
Recording/Paying For A Video Review
Some review sites have begun offering the option to have a video review instead of a written one. While this may seem like a great opportunity for businesses to get more reviews, it is very easy for someone to fake a video review. You can pay someone to create a fake video review for a few hundred dollars.
Using An Ip Or Device Different Than The Reviewer’s
Some review sites allow you to log in and write your review from any device (such as a computer or phone). This means you can write a fake review on your computer, then log in on your phone and publish it under your friend’s account.
How To Handle Fake Reviews
As we’ve seen, fake reviews can be extremely damaging to your business and have a direct impact on your bottom line. That’s why spotting fake reviews as soon as they are posted, is extremely important.
Once spotted, you should report the review and have it removed from the site. You may also choose to flag the review as “not helpful” if you feel the review is fake. This will prompt the site moderators to take action and remove the review. However, keep in mind that the review will still exist in the comment section and can be seen by other users.
If you’re trying to get a fake review removed, you must be careful. You don’t want to be seen as pressuring or bullying the site moderators. Instead, you should keep calm and write an honest review detailing why the review is fake. The review moderators will take appropriate action.
Reviews are critical to the success of any business in today’s digital landscape. However, it’s important to note that not all feedback is genuine. While some customers are honest and thorough in their reviews, others are not. Keep an eye out for these traits in your competitors’ reviews.
If you find a number of these traits in a single review, it may be a fake review. Armed with this information, you can make better decisions about where your business is placed and what customers you target.
If you ever come across a suspicious review, you can report it to the review sites. By doing this, you can help remove fraudulent reviews from public forums, improving the quality of information for all customers.
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