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How to Spot Fake Reviews

2012 June 6

Customer review websites are very popular, and many consumers are turning to these sites in order to share their thoughts and opinions on products, restaurants, services and businesses.

The problem with these sites is that the reviews found on them are not always true and accurate. Some companies hire people to write positive reviews for them or offer employees a monetary incentive if they write a positive review. Some companies write negative reviews on their competition. And since some of the review sites offer incentives for those users who contribute most often, such as YelpsElite group, some people write reviews on products/services they’ve never used or establishments they’ve never been to just to increase the amount of reviews they have written in order to receive perks.

As a consumer using these sites, your decision as to whether or not to frequent an establishment or purchase a product/service could end up being swayed by these fake reviews. Businesses are losing customers due to fake reviews, and you could be missing out on a great product, service or experience because of a false review.

Luckily, there are a few tell-tale signs on determining if a review is in fact fake.

1. Exclamation points.

Most people don’t use exclamation points to show an emphasis on their thoughts, so if you see one (or multiple), it could be a sign that the review is fake, especially if an exclamation point is found after every sentence.

2. 100% positive or 100% negative.

Most people are never 100% satisfied with a product, service or experience, so if a review raves about everything being perfect, including all the minute details that most people don’t include in reviews, it’s probably fake. The same goes for negative reviews. You may have had a bad experience with a company, product or service, but you probably didn’t hate everything about it. If a reviews complains about everything, it’s probably not real.

3. Overused descriptive words.

When someone writes a review, they tend to stick to the same few descriptive words, such as “great”, “best”, “bad” or “awful”. When a review sounds like it came straight out of a thesaurus, chances are someone took a very long amount of time to write it. Rather than saying “I had a bad experience at this restaurant because the food was cold and the service was terrible”, a fake review will say “I had an abominable experience at this dreadful restaurant because the substandard food was abnormally cold and the thing they call service was unsatisfactory”.

4. Too small or too high ratings.

Most ratings that contain the lowest or highest level of stars tend to be fake, as most honest reviewers tend to stick in the middle. If a review has 2, 3 or 4 stars, it is more believable.

5. Reviews are never perfect.

People write reviews when they have time, and they usually don’t spend too much time on the review to ensure that it’s perfect. Even professional writers aren’t going to do their best work on a review. You will see spelling and grammatical errors, and some of them may not even make much sense. Though they’re not perfect, these are the ones to pay attention to.

When a review is worded perfectly and poetically, it was written by a professional who was paid to write it.

6. Multiple reviews.

If you notice that the same person has reviewed the same place or product multiple times, it’s probably fake. Why would you go back a restaurant six more times if you had a bad experience during the first one? Even if the reviews are positive, why would you waste your time re-telling everyone why you love it unless there was something in it for you?

The same goes for products. If the same person is reviewing the same type of product, such as irons, it’s a red flag. If one iron worked great, why would you buy and try out another one? And if the reviews were negative, there is no way that one person could be that unsatisfied with every iron they have ever received.

7. Templated reviews.

If you notice that a slew of reviews sound the same, it’s probably because they were written using a template. Pay attention to the order in which things are said. Do you notice that the verbiage is literally the same except for the adjectives and product name? If it is, a template was used, and the review is not valid.

If you enjoy reading the reviews of other consumers in order to gain insight on a company, product or service, make sure that you check for signs of it being fake. You don’t want to make a decision based on false information from other users. You could end up missing out on a great experience.

Henry Collins is a small business owner who works as a freelance writer when he has time.  He often gives advice to other small business owners about review monitoring tactics.

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One Response leave one →
  1. June 8, 2012

    We have been using for 2 years to prove that our testimonials and reviews are real. They’re like a ‘good housekeeping’ for testimonials and reviews. No guess work for your potential customers…

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