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How to spot a fake review

Published on 26 March, 2019

Almost everyone has experienced the frustration and upset that fake reviews bring. Even Captain Marvel herself isn’t immune from them, but at least they were easy to spot. One in four consumers believe they’ve been misled by a fake review, which means they aren’t always so obvious.

Don’t worry though – Feefo’s got you covered. Here are some of the warning signs your business may have received fake feedback and what you can do to combat it.

An influx of very positive or negative reviews

A large number of reviews all left on the same day is usually a red flag, especially if they all follow a similar theme or mention the same specific features. If a business is paying for fake positive reviews (or negative ones to damage a competitor), they may have told the writers to mention things like the product’s price, smell, colour, etc. so watch out for this.

The reviews lack specific details about the service or product

Not every customer is going to leave a lengthy, detailed review about you, but if every recent review says ‘poor service’ and not much else, they’re unlikely to be genuine.

One easy way to check whether a review is genuine or not is to search for the reviewer’s name in your customer database. If there’s no match, they may not a real customer, unless they are commenting on your website or another aspect of your service they may have used without making a purchase.

Heavy use of pronouns and verbs

At the other end of the spectrum, over-enthusiastic reviews should be treated with caution too. According to research from Cornell University, reviews that contain more verbs than nouns and use pronouns frequently, such as “me” and “I”, are more likely to be fake.

Poorly written feedback

Many of the people that write paid-for reviews don’t operate in the country of the business being reviewed, so sometimes their grammar, spelling and punctuation is poor and acts as a good clue as to whether their reviews are genuine or not. Depending on the review platform, you may be able to see where the reviewer is located too. If you run a small fish and chip shop in the south of England and have just received a handful of reviews from people in Shanghai, then perhaps something is not quite right.

The reviewer in question has left nothing but positive or negative feedback

On some review platforms, you can click on the reviewer’s profile and view the feedback they’ve left for other businesses. If they only ever leave glowing five-star or brutal one-star reviews, their feedback might not be trustworthy. Genuine reviewers are more likely to leave a variety of star ratings.

What can I do if my business has fake reviews?

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Okay, so you think you’ve spotted a fake review or two, what’s the next step? Here are some things you can do to combat the fakes.

Respond to the review

In every instance, you should reply publicly to the review, not only because their complaint might be genuine, but so anyone reading their feedback can see your response. If you don’t recognise the reviewer’s name, state that in your response, but don’t be accusatory. Direct them to your customer service team and ask for more details.

Flag the fakes

If those suspected fakes haven’t got in touch with you since your reply to their review, some review sites will let you flag or report feedback for removal. Unfortunately, some review platforms don’t give you much opportunity to elaborate on why you think the review should be removed. If you encounter this issue, try to get a few different people to flag or report the feedback, as this can prompt the platform to take action, but it’s not a guarantee. Remember to report positive and negative fake reviews, as both can damage your reputation.

Concentrate on collecting real reviews

Chances are, you won’t be able to get every fake review removed, so it’s best to focus on collecting genuine feedback. The best way to do this, is to invite your customers to leave a review once they have made a purchase or used your services in some way.

 

Put an end to fake feedback

Feefo is an invite-only platform, meaning only verified customers can leave feedback for your business. Your competitors can’t pay for other people to leave fake reviews via Feefo, so you know that every opinion is genuine, helping you to improve your services and products, and make better business decisions.

To find out more about how Feefo works, check out our FAQs page.