Fake reviews were once the gateway to entering the kingdom of online ecommerce entrepreneurship. After all, without reviews, very few people will buy.
This from Moz.com:
We asked participants, “When making a major purchase such as an appliance, a smart phone, or even a car, how important are online reviews in your decision-making?”
The results revealed that online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents’ purchasing decisions. More than half of the respondents (54.7%) admitted that online reviews are fairly, very, or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process.
In fact, the study cited above is almost a year old now and the Internet is growing exponentially. There’s no telling what similar studies, based on Google+ and other ratings system data will show by the end of the year.
In short, reviews are important. You can’t fudge them and you can’t stand idly by and let fake reviews pollute your site and your brand. You need to take this poor practice at least as seriously as Amazon has been for years with thousands of lawsuits to date and many more pending.
1. Look for massive surges in reviews at or around the same time…
Identifying the same user posting multiple reviews can be really easy if they’re dumb enough to do it from the same Mac address (ie., same computer). However, and this is particularly true of local SMEs, looking for multiple reviews from the same IP in and around the same date is yet another way to find the phonies.
Also, just look for surges in general since they could be automated blasts from fake review companies, or from employees of a company using proxies. The language will often be similar (ie., overly techie reviews, reviews with lots of product details included, reviews with grammar problems, and so on.)
This is just one small criteria to incorporate into your strategy — you’ll have to dig deeper if you suspect a business to be fudging their product reviews.
2. Look for suspicious details reviewers wouldn’t normally include…
- Model numbers
- Excessive references to multiple features
- Tech jargon
- Anything else that seems out of place
This isn’t always something that should seem suspicious. Some reviewers are just geeks and you should expect them to toss in and compare model numbers and use techie-slang now and again. When it’s overwhelmingly common, there’s a problem; especially when other alarm triggers are present.
I don’t know if they (business owners) think it will provide some sort of SEO bumrush for their fake reviews and lead to even more sales of their product, or what, but most reviewers wouldn’t be bothered posting this kind of stuff. It’s almost always a review that’s been paid for on Fivver, one of the big IM sites, or written by a company representative themselves.
3. Look for unusually verbose reviews…
Long, long reviews detailing every nuance of the product, the utter happiness they felt each and every of the tens of times they used it, how amazing the customer service experience was — including the name of each and every employee, etc. Mix overly positive with way too much detail, and you have something that you’ll rarely find in an unbiased review of a product or service. Most of these border on the ludicrous and most customers, like you and I, will spot them a mile away with our keen marketer’s skepticism.
If you need an example of (in my honest opinion) unusually verbose, glowing reviews, look no further than the Amazon Kindle platform for multiple instances of this.
I have to admit that I’ve been sucked into downloading free and paid books from trusted authors on Kindle. However, you still have to wade through way more garbage on there to find good books than you would going to a traditional book store, and the fake reviews do nothing to help people find something that fits their tastes and grammatical standards. Most of these absurdly positive, scroll-hardy reviews aren’t worth the speck of online real estate they’re written on.
4. Dig past the 4 and 5 star reviews…
I won’t go into this one too much. We all know as customers that you’ll get more honest input from the 3-star and lower reviews than the positive. Especially if there’s lots of them to read through.
Most times, if there are enough of them to sift through, you’ll see most of the same issues pointed out from the crowd of unhappy consumers. Use these “proven” and unequivocal negatives to weigh the truth of those positives which you suspect to be fake.
The largely negative reviews can be fudged too, but are often just from one or two competitors seeking to disrupt a company’s reputation.
5. Look for multiple glowing reviews from multiple new accounts…
This one should be a given to all who’re reading this, but worth noting just the same. Often, these multiple accounts will also coincide with the blasts mentioned in #1, will contain the suspicious product details mentioned in #2, and will also be tediously long as mentioned in #3.
One-hit wonders are rare in the review world, as those who honestly want to help their fellow man, or a specific online community, will have a ton of reviews under their belt.
Did this help?
And do you have any tips not mentioned that you’ve found particularly helpful in keeping fake reviews to a minimum on your ecomm sites?
Main Image Credit: Kjrocker.com