Ecommerce is booming more than ever. Online businesses have more of an opportunity to get their products and/or services out there to more consumers in need. Likewise, more consumers look to online reviews in the decision-making process before they purchase. With more consumerism comes more product reviews. What if you can’t identify a fake review?
Unfortunately, not all online reviews are genuine. Fake and malicious reviews are on the rise. Harvard conducted a study that found that fake reviews on Yelp grew from 5% to 20% over the last several years. In a recent survey by MarketWatch, 8 out of 10 consumers thought that they had seen a fake review over the last year but couldn’t be sure.
Fake reviews, for most people, are not easy to spot. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you’ll be a pro in identifying the reviews that can harm your business reputation.
Here are the 9 ways that you can identify a fake review:
- Beware of excessive use of “I”, “me”, or verbs. According to a study led by Cornell University, online reviews that contain a lot of “I” or “me” have a tendency towards being more fake than not. Sometimes, when a fake reviewer is lying about their experience or about a product, they attempt to sound more authentic by using personal pronouns. Moreover, fraudsters typically use more verbs while genuine reviewers support with more nouns. All in the language!
- Be wary of “setting the scene.” The same Cornell study purported that fraudulent reviewers tend to inject details about their situation. For example, a fake review may make reference to their ‘vacation’ or ‘business trip.’ They might even exaggerate how much the situation put them and their spouse out.
- Look for generic names and/or profiles without a photo. One of the many ways fake reviews get generated is through a click farms. Click farms notoriously bulk review product pages under different accounts in a way to tip the scales; good or bad. As if this activity isn’t suspicious enough, a lot of the profiles go under names like “John Smith” or under the name of a celebrity. Hmmmm… something fishy about that!
- Be aware of review frequency. If there is a spike in the number of reviews composed during a short time frame, you can pretty much bet there’s some fraudulent activity going on. There may be a targeted campaign to blanket your business with fake bad reviews. However, holidays or a major shopping day, like Black Friday, are the exception to the rule, as there is an increase in reviews as consumer activity ramps up.
- Have a discerning eye for spelling, grammar, and industry specific lingo. We have all seen them and we all should not attempt to make sense out of them. Reviews with blatant misspellings and grammar mistakes may be an indication that the review was outsourced. It is likely the work of a content farm far, far away by someone who is not fluent in English or doesn’t express their opinion like that of a genuine reviewer.
Also, some reviews will poorly refer to the product or service because the writer has limited to no knowledge of what is being reviewed. Therefore, the review could be fake or fraudulent.
- Look for verified purchases. If a product was purchased on a site like Amazon or DealWiki, that site will indicate that it was a verified purchase. If is not a verified purchase, it is probable that the reviewer faked their review and cannot be trusted for a genuine testimony.
- Take note of repeat offenders. If a review looks suspicious, look into the reviewer’s profile. There are many individuals out there that are notorious for attacking online businesses and community forums. They do it just because they can. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, they will give you a poor rating or a bad review anyway. It is important to see if they have done the same to other businesses. If they have, this is grounds for dispute.
Also, if you click on a reviewer profile only to find all 5-star reviews for a single company, it’s likely that they are a competitor, or someone hired to meddle with other online businesses that are competing with them.
- Strike down on customer-jackers. What?! This is a thing? That’s right, it is. Your business is has been “customer-jacked” if you see a review like this: “Don’t by this product! I got this for my mother, and she hated it. So, I immediately bought [insert competitor’s product here] and now she’s a customer for life! Get it here with this 30% off coupon!” There may even be a link to the competitor’s review page. Sadly, there are some individuals that fall for this, but most see that this discredits the competitor and is a horrible ploy to steal customers.
- Keep the crazy people out. We think this header says it all. If you spot a review that seems a bit outlandish, abuses expletives, puts 3 exclamation points on the end of every sentence, or goes off the reservation with an outright rant, this person has forfeited their right to credibility in our book.
Now that you have discovered how to identify a fake review, please share with other professionals or business owners, like yourself. Make sure that you check out our entry on “How to Remedy Online Bad Reviews”. If you’d like to see how Company Review Solutions can protect your business and improve your customer relations, please schedule a personalized free demo with one of our analysts [Here]. Good luck and see you soon!