Getting negative reviews can be confusing. That’s because you don’t know who has posted them. It can be one of your customers, or it can be one of your competitors, former employees or people who personally dislike you. Surprisingly, some business owners do not even realize that their reputation is being deliberately damaged. As the result, they do not take any necessary measure to tackle negative reviews and suffer a huge reduction in sales.
The good news is that your online reputation, sales and customer’s trust can be saved. All you need to do is identify the fake reviews and report it. Reporting false reviews is easy, a simple Google search is all it takes to know how it is done. However, identifying fake review can be tricky. Therefore, to make your job worry-free, we are presenting 17 easy ways to spot fake reviews. Read these 17 tips and defend your reputation before it is too late, here we go.
1. Pay attention to the number of reviews
Paying attention to the number of reviews should be one of your online reputation management best practices. Usually, it takes a couple of months to obtain a significant number of reviews. If you notice a spike in the total number of reviews within a short period of time, then it may be a sign of fake reviews. It may indicate that someone is running a campaign to bring your reputation down and win the stiff competition over the Internet. However, a spike in a total number of reviews may not always indicate fake reviews. The number of reviews obtained in major buy days such as Christmas, New year, and Black Friday is normally high. Hence, it is better to consider this fact before coming to any conclusion.
2. Monitor reviews and stats
A good online reputation management company suggests to monitor reviews and stats. That is because if someone is posting fake reviews, it will show up in the reviews and stats. Although keeping an eye on stats may look like a difficult job, one can do it smoothly. Most of the popular review platforms offer dashboard to the owners who have claimed their business listing. Using this feature you can effortlessly check the stats displayed and discover the important facts such as who your viewers or reviewers are and from where they are coming from. This data is enough to figure out whether you have been hit with the fake reviews.
For instance, if you notice someone with a particular IP address visiting your listing hundred times a day, and posts negative reviews, then it may not be a good sign. Someone might be planning to hurt your online reputation. If this is the case, take quick measures to defend your reputation.
3. Check whether the reviewer is talking about his experience
A genuine customer who has made a purchase from you, tends to reveal his experience of using your products or services. Well, this is obvious because your customer has brought your product and used it. He knows the issues. In other words, he has details of what is bugging him. However, if someone is posting a review without buying anything from you will have less knowledge of the products or services you offer. As the result, he will fail to mention how he used it, how he tried to use it, or how it didn’t help. If you notice such reviews in a high number, then your reputation might be under attack.
4. Read three star-rating reviews
There is this one important fact about fake reviews. A false review has either one star rating or five-star rating. There is no in between. The people who want to spoil your online reputation are not going to give your business three or more than three star rating. Hence, reviews with three star rating are considered to be more credible, as they reflect both positive and negative aspects of a business. By reading the middle-of-the-road reviews, you will clearly understand pros and cons of your business. With that knowledge, you can easily cross check one star rating and know whether they are genuine or fake.
5. Check the review date
The best thing about this online reputation management tip is that it can tell you the nature of review with 100% accuracy. All you need to do is check the date of the review. If you get negative Google reviews even before the product is launched or available to buy, then it simply means that someone is hell-bent on damaging your hard-earned reputation. The best thing to do here is to report all such reviews or contact an online reputation management company. Taking professional a help can defend your reputation before it is harmed.
6. Inspect the avatar
A person who posts fake reviews tries to make his account look genuine. He or she is more likely to pull photos from other people’s social media profiles to use it as his or her profile picture. Therefore, it makes sense to check the profile picture of the reviewer to know whether it is genuine or lifted from the Internet. You can do a simple reverse image search and easily find the original source of the image used in the profile picture of the reviewer. In many instances, you will find that the same picture exists on someone else’s blog or social media account with some other name.
7. Google the review phrases
Google can help in mysterious ways. When you are not sure whether a negative review, you just received is genuine or not, type the phrases of the review in the search engine and hit the enter button, as simple as that. You may also want to use the verbatim feature available on the Google search engine. It will give you the search results of the sites where the exact phrases occur. If you find the same phrase or the entire comment on some other site, then it simply means that the review you just got is the fake one. You can conclude that someone is running a campaign against you.
8. Mismatch between the star rating and the text
You should develop a habit of glancing previous star ratings and reviews. It is not uncommon to get a review, where the text does not match the star rating. If you get any such review, then it might be a fake review. This is important because a couple of star ratings can impact the overall average star rating. This is particularly true in case of small or medium business. If you are a popular business, then it is natural to get numerous reviews. Since, it is not possible to read every single review, you can take a liberty of ignoring some.
9. Do some background research on the reviewer
The people who post fake reviews normally use fake accounts. Therefore, doing a background research on the reviewers is something you need to do regularly. Most of the review sites do provide the first and the last name of the reviewers. Google their full name. Check, whether they have social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if they have a social media presence, check how active they are on those platforms. A fake account usually does not have an active social media profile. If you come across a reviewer’s inactive or incomplete social media profile, then that can be a fake account.
10. Read other reviews of the reviewer
This is one of the best methods to identify the fake reviews. Websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon allow you to read other reviews that a reviewer has posted. Reading other reviews will give you a better understanding of the reviewer. You may also notice a pattern, provided you are lucky. If his or her only reviews are negative for one particular place, product, service, brand or business, then it can be a fake account. If you find any such things, report and try to get rid of negative reviews as soon as possible.
11. Check for reviews that focus solely on features
There is a basic difference between a real reviewer and the fake one. A real reviewer is more concerned about performance, result, and the value for money. Therefore, these things are reflected in a real review. On the other hand, a fake reviewer does not buy any product or service from you. He obviously is not concerned about performance and other important aspects. Hence, the review of the fake reviewer solely focuses on features. That is the reason why many online reputation management companies ask to follow the best practice of reading the reviews carefully.
12. Identify reviews that pitch other products
A real review is very simple to understand. A customer buys a product from you. It does not live up to his expectations. It is quite obvious that he is not satisfied and does not hold a good opinion about your business. So, to express his dissatisfaction or grievance, he writes a review. His review will not have anything more than that. If you notice a review pitching other business, products or services, then it is more likely to be a fake review. Your competitors know that, customers read reviews before making a purchase. So, they plant negative reviews, which speak low about your products and high about theirs. This is just one among many ways to steal your potential customers.
13. Check for links
As said in the previous point, a reviewer is more likely to express his issues, experiences, or concerns. He is less likely to refer some other products or services. In fact, he is definitely not going to add the link to some other product in the review. Although adding links in the review is not much common, one should not ignore the review that contains links. These reviews can take the traffic from your page to someone else’s web page. Do report such reviews, and try to get rid of them as soon as possible. Sometimes, professional help becomes necessary. You may need to approach a good online reputation management company.
14 Reach out the reviewer
Sometimes, it is hard to guess whether the review posted is fake or real. In such cases, reaching out to the reviewer is the best thing to do. Ask a couple of questions regarding the negative review posted. Most of the time there will be no response, if the reviewer is fake. If the reviewer is the real one, then he will most likely respond. If he does, resolve his issue quickly. He may change one star rating into five-star rating. Please note that, when you have a conversation with the reviewer, make sure you do it professionally. Defending yourself, arguments, heated debates or harsh words can do more damage compared to the negative review.
15. Beware of the review that does not back up its claim
When a reviewer says a product or service is horrible, he usually backs his claim. He provides a brief explanation or evidence to prove his point. This is not the case with the forged reviews. A fake reviewer will just express negative aspects of a business, and does not back up his claim. So, read all your reviews carefully. In fact, it is a good habit to read a review more than once. If you find any review that does not back up its claim, then it may be fabricated. In such cases, respond smartly. Ask the reviewer the details and stay clean from your end. If you feel the review is definitely a fake one, then flag it.
16. Watch out for a discount code
Well, sometimes competitors get desperate. Since reading reviews is the most favorite method to do a research on a product or service, some competitors may post discount code in the fake reviews posted by them. Just imagine, who would add a discount code in a review? It is obvious that someone is trying to steal your both traffic and customers. Report such reviews immediately. If that does not work, contact the review platform via telephone, email, Twitter, or Facebook. This must surely work out. After all, even review platforms, like Google and Yelp, want the reviews to come from the genuine people, so that the credibility of the reviews and the review platforms is well maintained.
17. Identify a press release hidden in the reviews
Check, whether the brand name, product name or product model of other products is repeated throughout the review. Trust your instincts. If a review sounds like a press release or an advertisement written by a professional, it probably is. A real reviewer uses normal language and does not repeat product or model name. If you find repeated mention of the other products, it might be a fake review written by the competitors to promote their products. Do not ignore such reviews. They can make you lose your customers. Put some efforts to keep your reviews free from fake reviewers.