Fake Reviews in Ecommerce Marketing
Reviews play an important role in modern trading. They are more efficient than brand content and ads, people rely on what others say. Moreover, good reviews put forward products and services on search engines. But what if those testimonials are fake and written by people who got paid and never tried the product themselves? Let’s dive into this topic and learn how to spot them on different review platforms.
Fake Reviews Marketing
Our shopping behavior has changed dramatically in the era of ecommerce. Real customers now have an opportunity to provide others with more realistic information than brands who write about their goods in the best light possible. Reviews are valuable for prospects because they speed up the buying decision process. Some websites, such as Yelp, Trustpilot, Capterra, and G2 serve as platforms for presenting trustworthy reviews to the public.
But here grows the problem that there’s an opportunity to ask freelancers to leave fake positive reviews on the brand. And even worse, one can spend several cents and people will leave hateful comments on the competitors. How is it possible for brands and customers to differentiate between real and fake reviews on different reviews? Let’s see.
There are many different reasons why people leave fake reviews. Half of them are driven by supplier based motives, some of them are user-based.
Suppliers may order both good and bad fake reviews. To highlight the positive sides of their products, they buy good reviews on the markets and even ask their mates to leave supportive feedback. In addition to presenting products in a very flattering light, the volume of positive reviews absorbs the negative ones. The first marker of fake reviews is a huge spread from negative to positive testimonials. It emphasizes the strangeness of the testimonials, and people, as a rule, don’t rely on them.
Positive fake reviews serve as a good addition to self-presentation. Real customers who write positive reviews can’t take products for granted, and suppliers think they can do it themselves.
Another motive for writing fake reviews is discrediting competitors. Suppliers order writing negative reviews on their rivals, so people don’t buy from them and come to the best producer on the market.
Users write negative fake reviews for various reasons. They sometimes want fame, have fun, or earn some money from a supplier’s competitor.
Let’s dive into the positive fake reviews. Usually, they are left by people who present themselves as affiliates of the brand. They may have never tried the products, but promote them with confidence and passion for they are paid by the brand. As we’ve already mentioned before, users can be paid for writing positive reviews. And they eagerly do this because they can earn money, high ratings, and some bonuses on the platform on which they leave such testimonials.
Different platforms use different methods to identify fake reviews and eliminating them. Moreover, different platforms treat fake testimonials differently. Some of the websites suppose fake reports to be harmful, some of them treat fake ratings as a problem of suppliers.
Fake Amazon Reviews
Amazon is the biggest online marketplace with thousands of users and millions of products. This platform is famous for a never-ending problem with fake five-star reviews. The faster products get positive feedback, the faster they appear at the top of search results. They can even get a ‘best seller’ label.
It is a big problem for customers if they bought a low-quality product after reading enthusiastic reviews. What is more, people who have never tried the product can write fake testimonials on the Amazon website.
You can spot false reviews easily with the help of online services in case they are automatic. One can also identify such testimonials manually, for there are some red flags to spot. Below, you’ll find main methods of recognizing fraudulent comments and ratings.
How to spot fake Amazon reviews
Speaking about identifying automatic fake testimonials, both vendors and website visitors can use third-party online services to check them. ReviewMeta and Fakespot are great online tools for discovering suspicious reviews. They are not affiliated with Amazon, and it gives special value to these platforms.
If you wish to detect unreliable comments on your own, here are the key points on which you should focus your attention.
Look at the spread between 1-star and 5-star reviews. The main indicator that something’s wrong is that there are only 1 and 5 star ratings in the ratio 70% / 30%.
Reviews may be fake if they’re non-specific. Usually people explain what makes them think good or bad about the product. Such reviews as ‘Love it’, ‘Great!’, or ‘Disgusting’ are most likely fake. You’d better search for the detailed responses, they’ll give you an opportunity to get acquainted with the product more fully.
If there’s a reference to the competitor’s product, it’s 90% fake. Comments saying that the product is awful and users should check another one by a competitor are distrustful.
Pay special attention to the unknown goods having thousands of positive reviews. You should give a closer look to the less popular products with incredibly good ratings.
Are fake Amazon Reviews illegal?
In short, yes, they are. The Federal Trade Commission has the power to penalize contractors of such reviews, because they affect commerce in a deceptive way. Fake information written in reviews is misleading and outrageous. They aren’t based on real clients’ experience and push people to buy products they wouldn’t buy otherwise.
All these moments are especially deceiving and are banned in accordance with the law.
Moreover, fake reviews diminish the reputation of Amazon as a platform.
Why Amazon struggles to identify fake reviews
World’s biggest marketplace allows users to post testimonials to the products which they didn’t buy directly from Amazon. It is the main reason why fake reviews have such a spread around the platform. Amazon themselves support and promote true reviews by presenting authentic testimonials first.
Consumers have an opportunity to leave star ratings without any text comments. The problem here is that the number of unauthentic reviews has increased dramatically. It should have increased consumer confidence, but in fact it flooded the marketplace and misled users.
Amazon filters abusive reviews, as well as irrelevant and recycled. But people use the same old tricks to get around those restrictions. For example, they post reviews on other services, such as PayPal and Facebook. Ventures pay for fake reviews on Facebook, and, eventually, the Amazon algorithm puts more weight to the recent testimonials.
How to report or delete fake testimonials on Amazon
All you have to do is contact the Amazon support center with a complaint about a negative fake review. Unfortunately, you can’t delete testimonials yourself. However, there’s an opportunity to state fraudulence. Here are the cases in which you can report testimonials according to Amazon review removal policy:
- The comment isn’t about the product, but the vendor or anything else.
- There is a comparison of prices or offerings from different competitors in the review.
- Reviews are promoting other products and websites.
- Reviews are from competitors.
- There are multiple unfavorable reviews of the same person under a single product.
- Reviews contain personal info.
In all these cases you can send an email and create a case about undermining reviews. However, users complain about the unresponsiveness of the Amazon team in such events. If you’re sure that someone’s trying to harm your business with paid negative reviews, you should not surrender. What you can do further, is conducting test buys, report to the PRA team, or escalate to VP Level and Above. If those actions don’t show any results, try to take things out of Amazon. Report the FTC about Amazon’s inaction, they’ll offer you additional guidance on how you can push Amazon to act.
Fake Trustpilot Reviews
There are different tips on the Internet about how to spot fake reviews on Trustpilot. For example, if the commentator has left only one report on the platform, he doesn’t have an avatar, he uses a simple and plain language. But do all these things actually work when you’re trying to identify a fake review? Let’s see.
How to spot fake reviews on Trustpilot
Trustpilot claims that their developers supported by the legal specialists find, punish and delete fake testimonials themselves. They even show an example of a simple and unremarkable review presenting a 4-star rating to the product as well as a logical comment. It appeared to be fake. They insist that the platform algorithm is so good that it deletes obviously fake reviews automatically.
What is more, this algorithm is improving over time. For instance, it deletes suspicious reviews from a single IP. Trustpilot also says that their algorithm pays special attention to the reviews by authors with behavior patterns which don’t adhere to the norm. You can report testimonials for fraudeness if you see the following peculiarities:
- Reviews are only five-star, and there are no negative ratings.
- Chosen testimonials look like a piece of marketing content.
- Reviews mention the names of other businesses.
- Negative testimonials don’t contain constructive feedback, only words like ‘Fantastic’, ‘Cool’, ‘Didn’t like’.
All these moments might be a red flag and one should consider them as suspicious.
Is it illegal to post fake reviews
Posting fake testimonials on Trustpilot may seem uncontrolled and easy, however, it’s not what it seems. According to the laws about advertising in different countries, marketing materials shouldn’t be misleading. From this point of view, fake reviews are a misleading ad which makes people buy what they wouldn’t have if they don’t read it.
How to report or delete fake reviews from Trustpilot?
First of all, you should choose a reason why you want some content to be deleted. For example, if it isn’t based on a genuine experience, it’s an obvious promotion of another product, or if it includes personal info, hate speech, discrimination, and violence, you have every right to red flag these reviews.
In most cases, Trustpilot support doesn’t notify reporters of the investigation results. However, they assure their users that they’ll certainly take action if anything suspicious or illegal is posted.
Fake Google Reviews
Google is genuinely the biggest encyclopedia of websites, business information, data about celebrities and common people. Reviews about businesses appear on the first page of search results in a rich snippet. They attract the biggest attention and increase the glory of the brands.
It’s almost impossible to believe that even this IT-giant sometimes skips fake testimonials. Below, you’ll find some hints on how to distinguish fake reviews from real and how to fight against them.
How to spot fake Google reviews
Although Google has total intolerance to fake testimonials, competitors can write them manually, which Google can’t identify. Only you as a user or a business owner can recognize something suspicious. Here are the most suspicious instances of reviews:
- Trolls usually create one-time accounts to write a single fake testimonial.
- Fake accounts don’t have a profile photo and never have a real name.
- Fake reviews don’t have any explanations, they are usually 1- or 2-star ratings with no text.
Is it illegal to post fake Google Reviews?
Yes, it is. Spreading misleading information for marketing purposes is forbidden by the law. If the court has an opportunity to sick a person writing such reviews, it will fire him/her at the same moment.
Why does Google struggle to spot fake Reviews?
People no more automize publishing fake reviews with the help of bots. They buy ratings and comments of real people on freelance-markets and ask their current customers to leave fake reviews for them. They look absolutely authentic, and only real customers and readers can spot such reviews.
How to report and delete fake reviews?
First of all, Google itself deletes automatically created fake reviews. For example, when a bot created a review. Also, there’s an opportunity to delete several kinds of testimonials, such as spam, fake, illegal, sexually explicit, terrorist in nature, or off topic.
If reviews don’t belong to any of the categories, but you still think that the review is fake, you can still red flag them for Google’s automated spam detection. This will allow Google specialists to take a closer look at the reviews and decide whether or not to remove it.
Now, you know how to detect fake reviews on no matter which platforms. You also know that deleting what you think are fake reviews is in your hands. Moreover, you can alert the owners of the platforms that there are some falsified testimonials on your profile. Anyway, people are usually able to understand when they see unreal feedback. Don’t buy fake positive reviews and stay alert if you see such comments on your website.