It was announced on the BBC News site this morning that an alarming number of businesses are creating fake reviews on the web, or cherry picking reviews in order that only the good ones show. Fake reviews damage trust and so it is important that we can understand how reviews work and how we can be sure the reviews on the site are real.
Let me give you an example. Many years ago I spoke to a company in Aylesbury, England who had previously engaged the services of an SEO “expert”. They were doing very well locally and were very pleased with the results. However, as soon as they decided to stop with this SEO “Expert” their local results plummeted.
On investigation, we could see that their web presence locally had been enhanced through the use of fake reviews. The SEO “expert” (it makes me very angry to call him this) had simply created 10 fake reviews a month, using exactly the same words, just creating a new user.
How do YOU spot fake reviews?
When you are looking for a product or service, it may be a holiday, or white goods or… well anything really, you may want to look online and read about other peoples experiences with the company you are looking to buy from, or the product itself. We need the reviews to be real, honest and therefore trustworthy in order that we can all benefit from these crowd-sharing tools.
Our top tips for spotting fake online reviews are:
- CHECK THE SCORE – If someone has 10/10 every single time, they may be cherry picking. Don’t get me wrong, some people really are very good at what they do, but when you see this, it is time to look at multiple review sites to see if it is similar across them all. So, if on one review site the company consistently scores 10/10 yet on another they score 5/10 then you know these reviews are probably not real.
- CHECK THE REVIEWER – When you look at the review, you can generally find out a little more about the person making that review, and often you can see the other reviews this person has made. If this person has made many reviews and they are all great, then this person is either very easy to please, only rates and never critiques, or is fake. Generally, as individuals, we stick to a few Social media and Review sites. If your reviewer is appearing on multiple review sites and giving the same reviews over an over, they may have a lot of time on their hands, or they are not real people.
- CHECK THE RESPONSES – Often a fake review is just that, no engagement. Simply put, when people create a fake review, why would they then sign in and comment? Some fake reviews of course can be created by family and friends, and then a comment may be added, but as a rule, fake reviews do not get feedback.
- CHECK FOR CHERRY PICKING – This one is a tough one, how can you tell if a company is hiding (not publishing) bad reviews? When comparing other review websites, you can often find comments made about companies where they actually say “I commented on… the did not publish”. As you can see from the screenshot, a simple search will identify if this is the case, simply add in the company name or product name to get more relevant results.
It is important for you the consumer to keep review sites honest and reliable, so please SHARE these tips and educate your friends and family in order that we can all benefit from the knowledge shared by real people.