The Problem With Fake Reviews And How to Stop Them
One of the biggest reputation killers (or boosters) is fake reviews. As a company dedicated to fighting inauthentic reviews, review gating, and brands that aren’t CRFA compliant, we are always working to keep our clients safe from the damaging effects of fake reviews. Google, Amazon, and Yelp are all big players in consumer reviews but unfortunately, they are not able to catch every fake review. That’s why we always encourage businesses and consumers to stay vigilant in spotting fake reviews.
Fake Reviews Are A Real Problem
97% of consumers say reviews influence their purchasing decision. Which is why fake reviews are such a big deal. Last week CNN reported on an investigation by the British consumer education group called Which?, where the group found that many unknown tech brands on Amazon were flooded with fake reviews. Because of the immense amount of 5-star fake reviews, these brands were now ranking among the highest recommended products.
In the study, Which? searched Amazon for 14 different technology products and found that many of the highest rated products were from brands their tech experts had not heard of. This led them to dive deeper and see if fake reviews were leading to an increase in their rankings.
Which? found over 10,000 unverified (meaning the reviewer did not buy the product from Amazon directly) reviews. Within these reviews they found:
- 100’s of 5-star unverified reviews for a single product posted on the same day.
- Duplicate reviews.
- Positive reviews posted on the wrong product.
Unfortunately, these fake reviews could have led someone to buy a faulty product. And the same thing can happen with local businesses. When searching for a great lawyer, contractor or even a lunch spot, fake reviews can leave people upset and in response, they might leave real reviews about your business, product, or service about a real experience with your brand.
When asked about what Amazon is doing to fight fake reviews they had this to say:
“Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”
As much as we hope Amazon is diligently monitoring as many reviews as they can, it’s clear to see that they are missing 1,000s of reviews and it’s causing damaging effects both to the buyers and the legitimate brands who are getting pushed to the bottom of the rankings.
Yelp & Google’s Stance on Fake Reviews
Chatmeter has been dedicated to fighting fake reviews and review gating because we know that a brand’s reputation can only be earned not bought. Although every review site is against fake reviews, some are more diligent than others. Here’s a look at the top sites leading the fight against fake reviews.
One of the biggest leaders in the fight against fake reviews is Yelp. Yelp explicitly warns businesses against review solicitation, gating, or asking for positive reviews in any way. They have even gone as far as putting in consumer alerts to warn users of businesses trying to pay for positive reviews.
In their review content guidelines, Yelp states that consumer reviews must be from personal experience and accurate.
In June of 2018, Google stopped allowing people to leave anonymous reviews. In this same initiative to fight fake reviews, they also updated their review policy to prevent businesses from gating reviews. It’s because of initiatives like this, and Google’s clear stance on fake reviews that businesses are able to request for review removal.
In its Local Guides review policy, Google clearly states that Spam and Fake content is not allowed.
How to Spot Fake Reviews
Not every review site is as dedicated to fighting reviews as Yelp and Google. Review sites can get hundreds of thousands of reviews each day. If you want to keep your brand free from fake reviews you need to make sure you’re looking out for fake reviews and notifying the review site. Here are our best tips for finding fake reviews no matter where your customers are leaving reviews.
1. Duplicate Content
If you’re finding dozens of reviews all with the same title, phrases, author or something that looks like it was copied and pasted multiple times, they’re most likely fake reviews.
2. Unverified or Anonymous Reviewers
If you can’t find any record of a person’s name or that they even visited your business there is a good chance the review is fake especially if the review has very few details about their experience with your brand, product, or service.
3. Multiple Reviews on the Same Day
If you ever see a swarm of reviews on a single day there is a good chance they could be fake. An example of this would be 100 negative 1-star reviews for a business that usually gets under 10 reviews a day.
4. Incorrect Language
Oftentimes fake reviews can come from people outside of the country. If you’re seeing multiple reviews coming from people who use the incorrect wording or common spelling errors there is a good chance those reviews could be fake and someone paid the reviewer to write them.
5. Duplicate Reviews Posted Elsewhere
If you notice an influx of negative reviews check your competitors to see if they received the same or similar reviews as well. Unfortunately, there are businesses out there that will pay for someone to write negative reviews about their competitors.
6. Use a Tool
There are many free online tools out there like Fakespot that analyze reviews from some of the biggest online review sites and retailers.
How to Remove Fake Reviews
If you’re finding fake reviews you can flag them for removal. Below you can find links on how to flag fake reviews for removal on some of the biggest review sites.
The key to fighting fake reviews is to remove them before consumers get a chance to see them. Utilizing a review monitoring software, like Chatmeter, can help you stay on top of all your reviews through real-time alerts, in-dashboard responding, and sentiment analysis. In fact, our sentiment analysis tool, Pulse, is the perfect solution to picking out repetitive fake reviews. Want to see how well your brand is currently doing at managing reviews? Try our free Instant Brand Audit tool to learn more!