Increasingly, consumers are looking to online reviews from other customers during their buying decision process. Studies show that 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their decisions and a whopping 94% of consumers say an online review had convinced them to avoid a business.
That leaves a lot at stake for business owners and unfortunately some are rigging the game. According to BrightLocal (November 2019), 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year. Another report conducted by FakeSpot suggested that 61% of electronics reviews on Amazon were ‘fake’.
So how can consumers protect themselves? There’s plenty of ways to decider fact from fiction but today, here are 5 top ways to spot a fake online review:
- It goes strongly against the other reviews – if a review page is littered with 1-star reviews complaining about poor quality and the like, it’s unlikely that a 5-star review raving about the business or service or product is genuine. It’s also very telling if the review bemoans the other reviews “I don’t know why people have only given 1-star …?” Who has the time or the invested interest to defend a business online?
- It’s written by a profile with no other reviews – or worse, tons of unrelated reviews across the country or even world – reviewers tend to review as a habit or even as a hobby – so a single review seems unlikely to be from a genuine reviewer. It also seems unlikely that someone would review a local bakery in Canada’s prairies and then a vegan ice cream shop in London’s Soho. Genuine reviewers tend to review a collection of local places and/or places they find on their travels.
- It’s written by a profile with no photo or details – typically, reviewers who have the time and inclination to spend time reviewing things online would take the same time and care to create a profile. No details – it’s probably a fake account and therefore a fake review. Equally, if the reviewer is based in a far-off land but reviewing a corner shop in a remote Welsh village – that doesn’t seem very plausible.
- It’s poorly written – there are plenty of overseas freelancers and small businesses who offer a ‘reviews’ service to businesses on freelancer websites – so it’s common that English is not their first language and it can show. Typically it’s awkwardly written or there are spelling or grammatical errors. Of course, that’s not to say that business owners or staff themselves, or UK-based freelancers aren’t up to no good too! But it’s a good rule of thumb.
- It’s vague – this is my favourite tell tell sign – reviews that are so vague that they could be relevant to pretty much anything. Reviews like “this is great” or “I love this” tend to be fake. Reviewers leave positive reviews as they had a position experience and felt a connection – that passion tends to follow through in their (detailed) reviews.