Fake reviews: How to combat a growing online problem

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Fake reviews: How to combat a growing online problem

30 second summary:

  • Reviews are vital for both retailers and consumers. This is especially true at the moment when vacation shoppers can use reviews to decide which TVs, wireless earbuds, home security systems, or air fryers to buy.
  • Many consumers are likely to come across spurious or improper reviews without realizing it. There are fake reviews on all major platforms. It’s really just a matter of degree. And it’s a growing problem.
  • Trading fake reviews is a bad idea for many reasons, including platform bans and blacklisting. However, consumer trust is arguably the number one reason not to play the system.
  • Assuming the company isn’t generating fake reviews for itself, identifying and removing those reviews can be a challenge. Sophisticated reputation management software tools can help identify fake reviews or monitor incoming reviews in real time to make detection easier.
  • Online reputation is a long game. Reviews are not just about rankings. You can help companies improve products, services and processes. Companies that listen (and care about) their customers will have greater loyalty and referrals in the long run.

Reviews are vital for both retailers and consumers. This is especially true now that vacation shoppers are focusing on reviews to make decisions about which TVs, wireless earbuds, home security systems, or air fryers to buy.

But many consumers are likely to come across spurious or illegitimate reviews without realizing it. There are fake reviews on all major platforms, it’s really just a matter of degree. And it’s a growing problem.

In this article, I’m going to discuss what fake reviews are about, what types of fake reviews there are, how to spot them, and how to remove them.

The extent of the problem

Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon have different approaches to content moderation and fraud checking. Yelp has been arguably the most aggressive of the major sites in keeping review fraud down. But Google, Amazon and the others often say that they are also actively dealing with the problem – with varying degrees of success.

Review fraud is a particularly big problem on Amazon. Separate studies conducted by Objection.co, Fakespot, and The Washington Post found the majority of reviews on certain product categories to be misleading or spurious. For example, Objection.co has stated that the vast majority of Bluetooth enabled products in the Electronics category are counterfeit in some way. And Fakespot found that ratings for 63% of the products in the Beauty category on Amazon are not allowed.

Amazon denies these results and claims it is addressing the problem. Fake reviews are also a problem on Google, where, according to Objection.co, thousands of Local Guide profiles are controlled by “review farms”.

Review scams are like a game of cat and mouse where shady but increasingly sophisticated scammers try to stay one step ahead of platform algorithms. The reasons why fake reviews proliferate are obvious. Reviews affect rankings on Google and Amazon and more than 90% of consumers rely on them Make purchasing decisions.

Even more consumers are seeing fake reviews online. According to a Survey 201982% of those surveyed said they had read at least one fake review in the past year. (Consumers often don’t recognize them.) The same study found that consumers are increasingly turning to multiple review sites before making a purchase decision to protect themselves against review fraud.

Types of fake reviews

We often speak of fake reviews as a uniform phenomenon. However, there is a spectrum and several categories of inauthentic or fake reviews:

  • Entrepreneurs who directly or indirectly generate reviews for themselves
  • Employees who write positive reviews for their employers and former employees who write retaliatory reviews of a former employer
  • Customers who lie or exaggerate a bad experience for a refund or other compensation
  • Friends and family who write positive or negative reviews on behalf of a company
  • Companies that pay for reviews or offer something in return
  • Global vendors selling positive and negative reviews to companies around the world

Many providers of fake reviews operate in China, India, Bangladesh or the Philippines off the coast. After objection, however. co, the most common type of review fraud is committed by a business owner who uses a fake profile to write positive reviews about themselves or negative reviews about a competitor.

Trading fake reviews is a bad idea for many reasons, including platform bans and blacklisting. However, consumer trust is arguably the number one reason not to play the system. According to a global consumer survey published by Bazaarvoice earlier this year, fake reviews can lead to a loss of trust in the brand or retailer. A majority of consumers (54%) say they will not buy the product if they suspect that reviews are fake.

Getting called by the platforms – especially Yelp – can be tough too. The companys Consumer messages can remain in business profiles for months depending on the violation. That can be the kiss of death for a local company.

Detecting and removing fake reviews

Assuming the company isn’t generating fake reviews for itself, identifying and removing those reviews can be a challenge. Sophisticated reputation management software tools can help identify fake reviews or monitor incoming reviews in real time to make detection easier.

Detecting fake reviews manually is more difficult. However, things to look for include reviewers who are not in the customer database, profiles or names that appear fake, geographically dispersed reviews, references that suggest the review is targeting the wrong company, review content that says “general “Or without much, details and stars are without comments (on Google). There are other signals as well.

Each of the platforms have slightly different procedures for responding to questionable reviews and requesting removal of requests:

However, following these procedures doesn’t always work. At Google in particular, the reviews in question must violate one of their provisions Content guidelinesthat contain “spam and fake content”. In addition, Google will remove reviews if they are written by a non-customer, if they are directed at the wrong company, or if the review is not based on an actual customer experience (e.g. political objection to the company). .

In general, it is best to respond publicly to the review and point out the mistake or mistake (e.g. wrong company location) without emotion. If it’s a competitor writing a negative review, politely point out that you don’t remember them as a customer. You then need to find the review in the Google My Business dashboard and mark it as “inappropriate”. Local SEOs also recommend a notification @ GoogleMyBiz on twitter.

In the best case scenario, it can take several days for Google to remove reviews if they think the review was inappropriate. However, there are also cases when it can take much longer 20 days in one example.

Online reputation is a long game. Reviews are not just about rankings. You can help companies improve products, services and processes. Companies that listen (and care about) their customers will have greater loyalty and referrals in the long run. It is not worth playing the system by generating or buying fake reviews.

If the company has an active review administration program and regular reviews are received, quarantined review spam is unlikely to have a significant impact. And reviews that have been proven to be fake should be easy to identify and ultimately remove.

Norman Rohr is SVP Marketing & Communications at Uberall.