Have you ever been fooled by fake reviews?
I’ve been suspicious of online reviews ever since I was harassed by a company after leaving a negative Yelp review. This place had so many glowing reviews, I was really surprised what a bad experience I had. So I decided to write a negative review to offer a different point of view from the overwhelmingly positive ratings.
This was a long time ago and I won’t go into detail, but I had a legitimate complaint about them not practicing their own philosophy that was posted on their website. I mean, if they don’t really believe in doing it that way, why bother saying they do???
But instead of contacting me to explain, apologize, or address the situation, they went out of their way to search for me and my family online. They purposely left bad reviews for my brother’s business – who they hadn’t even done business with!
Of course they offered to remove it if I took down my review, which at the time I did, because I didn’t know what else to do and I didn’t want to hurt my brother’s business. Then it dawned on me. Oh, THAT is why this place ONLY has all 5-star reviews!
Not every company is going to expend that much effort or be so devious. However, many e-commerce sites have a problem with fake reviews. So always be leery of a very high percentage of five-star reviews. Sometimes, sellers will even solicit false negative reviews on competing products.
Here are ten red flags that may indicate a fake review campaign:
- Generic review titles like “Great Product”
- Reviews that are only a few words in length
- Vague praise and lack of detail
- Glowing reviews that sound more like a sales pitch
- Mentions competing products by name and emphasizes how this one is better
- Says nothing specific about the reviewer’s own experience with the product
- Wording similar to other reviews
- Spelling mistakes and poor grammar
- Multiple reviews on specific dates (especially if there are long gaps between them)
- “Customers also bought” section contains unrelated products
Even e-commerce giant Amazon has been infiltrated with fake or paid reviews. Here are five tips on how to spot good reviews on Amazon:
- The overwhelming majority of fake positives are five-star reviews, and false negatives tend to be one-star reviews, so you are more likely to find legitimate reviews in the middle.
- The “Verified Purchase” badge lets you know the person writing the review bought the product. However, be aware that some sellers will go so far as to refund purchases just to enable reviewers to get this badge and leave a fake review.
- Another part of Amazon’s strategy is the Vine Program. Amazon handpicks people it identifies as its “most insightful reviewers” and lets them request free products from thousands of brands in return for their honest, unbiased reviews.
- If you’re suspicious about a review, click on the reviewer’s name to see their profile. Do they seem to be a real person? Consider how many reviews they’ve written and what other products they’ve purchased.
- If you’re considering purchasing a big-ticket item or a product from a major brand, do an internet search for reviews posted elsewhere on legitimate sites or by experts in the field.
New AI tools are available that you can download to analyze reviews, filter out untrustworthy ones, and flag fake ones. But keep in mind that these tools can also produce false positives. So practice due diligence and use the tips above to decide for yourself if a review is trustworthy or not.