How To Spot Fake Reviews (& What To Do About Them)

by Kari Pritchard February 2nd, 2015 

Kari Pritchard

Kari is a Marketing Coordinator at Search Engine People. Her background in English and journalism inspires her to expand her experience in the fields of publishing, marketing and communications in a way that can help her continue to explore the digital world.


There are a lot of opinions in the land of the World Wide Web. When it comes to doing online business, these opinions can both help and hinder progress. When potential customers turn to online reviews to help them in their buying process, these opinions can make or break your success.

That’s why it’s important to be able to distinguish between real and fake reviews. Furthermore, you need to know your options when it comes to ridding the internet of undeserved hogwash targeted at your business.

How To Identify A Fake Review

1. Enthusiasm Overload

“This UNBELIEVABLE cheese grater can grate ANY cheese in four AMAZING ways!!!”

Cheese is delicious, but let’s be real – it’s not that exciting. If you’re reading a review that’s over the top with excitement or distaste, this could be an indicator of a fake.

Research shows overuse of positive or negative emotions is a sign the review is not legit . [1]

2. Not Verified

Certain sites like Amazon verify product reviews. If the review isn’t verified, this lets the buyer know that the product was not purchased through the company.

If you find your business or a product you sell being reviewed on a site that has not verified it, this could be another red flag for a phony review.

3. Language

So you’re reading a doozy of a review. Before you decide to call it quits, consider the details. Research [2] from Cornell University shows reviews lacking spatial details for hotel reviews might be bogus . After all, how can they describe their room if they didn’t actually stay?

In the same vein of thought, using a higher amount of verbs than nouns signifies an imaginative (fake) narrative in a review.

4. Authenticity

Although some fake reviews will stick out like sore thumbs, other people will have put more thought into their strike against your business. Research [3] out of Boston University considers the “attacker’s perspective” – strategies considered when composing a whopper of a review.

Bringing together previously discussed elements, some masters of the fake review will have done their homework. They are better able to blend in with the crowd through stealth and coherence while expressing themselves in a humanized manner.

Does that negative review seem almost a bit too perfect? Could be another sign of a forged review.

5. Duplicate Reviews

Your product has just gotten a negative review. And then the same sad review pops up on another site, plus an extremely similar review on another site. If the fake review alarms aren’t sounding off yet, they should be. It’s either an insane coincidence or somebody is hitting copy and paste in an attempt to tarnish your business.

So You’ve Found A Fake Review. Now What?

1. Contact The Authorities

If you have some solid proof (or it’s glaringly obvious), try reaching out to the webmaster and politely ask to have it taken down. If the review is unwarranted, there is no reason why it should be existing on the internet to taunt you.

2. Reputation Management

Somebody really doesn’t like your product or business and they are not shy about it. They keep posting negative reviews and despite your best efforts, they are sticking around.

Instead of wallowing in sadness, be proactive. Start creating videos, garnering authentic positive reviews and producing other great content. The more positive content you create, the better chance you have for it to appear higher up on the SERP than the surly review from your unhappy friend.

3. Positive Reviews, Activate!

Don’t let those negative reviews drag you down. Nobody’s business or product is going to be loved by everybody, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who are head-over-heels for it.

Reach out to your loyal customers. Delight them with your products and content offers, making them evangelists who are compelled to write real, positive reviews for your business. After all, if you product is good, people will naturally want to talk about it.

4. Review Skeptic

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a computer software called Review Skeptic that helps to identify fake hotel reviews. Boasting a 90% accuracy rate, if you have a feeling that your hotel has been spammed with a bad review, copy and paste is into review skeptic and see if you are right.

Sometimes, The Truth Hurts

I hate to break it to you, but not everybody is going to love what you’re doing. Although there are malicious people out there whose prerogative is to hurt your business with lies, some of them are just being honest.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to turn that frown upside down. If you’ve come across an authentic negative review, reach out to the consumer and see if there’s something you can do to help mitigate the situation. Having the ability to turn a negative into a positive? Now that’s something to be proud of.

Although some negative reviews are bound to pop up every now and again, the ability to be able to spot and eliminate the fakes can really help your business. In the meantime, focus on the positives. Continue to grow your business and listen to your loyal customers and the real, positive reviews will outnumber the imposters.

How To Spot Fake Reviews (& What To Do About Them)

The post How To Spot Fake Reviews (& What To Do About Them) appeared first on Search Engine People Blog.

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