How to spot fake reviews (and what to do about them)
You are probably already aware that 93% of customers look at online reviews before purchasing if you’re reading this. Good reviews and a positive online reputation can be a boon for your business. At the same time, negative reviews can bring a massive dip in your revenue.
As online reviews are essential, businesses have a strong incentive to purchase positive reviews or buy negative reviews for their competitors, even though both options are unethical.
As a result, the number of fake reviews is constantly growing. Studies show that about 39% of online reviews are unreliable.
Your business has likely suffered from negative reviews at one point, so learning how to spot and remove fake online reviews is extremely important.
In this blog, we look at the prevalence of fake reviews, how to spot them, and how to take action against them.
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Why do companies hire people to write fake reviews?
As a business owner, you might be wondering how you would even spot a fake review in the first place. While there is no way to be 100% certain a review is fake, you can probably get a good guess just by reading it.
But before we get into the different ways to spot a fake review, let’s first understand the reasons for buying fake reviews in the first place. Here are a few reasons a business might choose to purchase or create fake reviews.
- Repair negative reputation: A series of negative reviews can significantly impact a business’ sales. By buying positive reviews, the company might feel like it can turn the tide and exert greater control over how it’s perceived.
- Increase sales: A survey conducted by Trustpilot shared that about 89% of the customers look at online reviews before buying a product. Adding positive reviews, particularly for new products, could have the potential to increase sales.
- Increase customer traffic: Google increases the visibility of businesses with high-quality, positive reviews by placing them higher in its SERPs. Therefore, a company might feel it can improve its ranking by buying positive reviews.
- Reduce competition: Apart from positive reviews, companies might buy fake negative reviews to weaken their competition. This is intended to reduce the competition and increase the sales of their products.
- Disgruntled customers and employees: Another common tale is the former employee or consumer who writes a fake negative review to hurt a business because they feel they have been wronged.
But to be clear, writing fake reviews (whether positive or negative) is unethical, and we strongly advise against it for any reason.
What are some tips to spot fake reviews?
Here are some tips that can help you spot fake reviews easily:
- Look for repeated brand mention: Often, fake reviews look like PR materials made by companies. Try to put yourself in the user’s shoes and think about how they describe it. For example, if a review reads, “XYZ Microwave S-24290 for Modular Kitchen is perfect for a family of 4!” it’s likely a fake review.
- Check out the reviewer’s profile: One of the best ways to spot a fake review is to look at the other reviews left from that profile. If the reviewer has left many such reviews for different products in a short period, then it is likely that the profile is a scam.
- Be wary of recommendations: Have you ever come across a bad review that said, “I hate this company! The guys over at XYZ offer the same service at a lower price.” Such strong recommendations for competitor products raise many red flags and signal that the review may be fake.
What should you do if you suspect a review is fake?
The issue of fake reviews is constantly increasing. To combat this, different review sites such as Yelp, Google, eBay, and TripAdvisor are developing specific policies to remove fake reviews.
Let’s look at the policies of two of the essential reviewing platforms, Google and Yelp.
You can report reviews that directly violate Google policies. This includes reviews that are spam, fake, sexually explicit, illegal, off-topic, dangerous, restricted, derogatory, etc. The business owner can report such negative reviews, which Google will then review.
Apart from this, Google removes reviews automatically if the algorithm detects them as violative of Google’s policies. As an individual does not review this, this might result in the removal of some genuine reviews.
You should take the following steps to remove fake reviews:
- Check your Google My Business account for customer reviews.
- Carefully read through the reviews and detect fake ones.
- Click on the flag next to review to report it.
- Get in touch with Google Small Business Support to follow up.
You can flag and report reviews that are irrelevant, inappropriate, promotional, violate intellectual property or create privacy concerns. After this, Yelp’s moderators will investigate the review. It might take several days to notify you of the result.
You should follow the following steps to remove Yelp reviews:
- Go to the “Reviews” section in your profile.
- Scan through the review to detect fake reviews.
- Tap on “Remove Review” and select the reason for requesting removal.
Can you prevent fake reviews?
Unfortunately, completely preventing fake reviews is not possible. As we discussed above, fake reviews come from multiple different sources which you simply do not have control over.
For example, you will not be able to stop your competitors from leaving fake reviews against you. The best way of combating this issue is to petition for review removal if you suspect it’s not a real review.
Manage your online reputation with Broadly
Online reviews play a critical role in the success of your company. Customers regularly check reviews before making purchase decisions, so you should prioritize this effort if you’re looking to grow your business.
At Broadly, we help businesses increase their revenue by generating more 5-star reviews, automating customer follow-up, streamlining customer communication, and so much more!
See what Broadly can do for your business in just 30 days