August 16, 2021

How to Spot Fake Online Reviews Like a Pro

When it comes to online reviews, knowing what to look for can make all the difference

Nowadays you’ll be hard-pressed to find a business or brand without a strong online presence. The modern customer is now used to shopping online with ease, obtaining everything they could possibly need without crossing the threshold of their home. During this process, one of the biggest ways people come to an ultimate decision on a product or service is by reading reviews.

However, with such a large audience of tech-savvy consumers and companies which aim to please them all, there is bound to be some level of fakery. In fact, research has shown that a surprising 39% of reviews found in the virtual environment are not to be trusted. This means that 4 out of every 10 posts concerning a certain product are simply made-up or illegitimate.

Although it may seem hopeless given these figures, if consumers can get better at spotting fake online reviews, they can have a more pleasurable shopping experience in the long run. In this article, we point out five useful tips that will help people seek out the truth amongst falsehoods.

Look at Wording and Diction  

Consumers should always take a look at what specific words are used in an online review. Oftentimes, fake reviews will incorporate far too many personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ in order to make themselves sound authentic. Additionally, customer reviews that make use of industry-specific terms should be given a closer look. For example, an average reviewer would not have the knowledge to write about a specific detail of a restaurant’s food style when posting a quick rating for a new establishment. This also goes for language that feels over-sensationalized or is filled to the brim with flashy adjectives. Truth-tellers use diction that is concrete and familiar to them. Also, readers should pay attention to grammar and phrase repetition, as fake reviews are often written in a hurry without much thought. All of this may seem like something that is a bit harder to catch, but you’d be surprised by how many languages can communicate if you just take a closer look.

Be Cautious of Heavily Positive/Negative Content

In the grand scheme of things, online reviews should never be all black and all white. After all, a reviewer will almost always have something positive and negative to say about a product or service, rather than giving it all shining stars or all bad comments. Even those reviews left by the brand itself or a third-party reviewer should incorporate some good and not-so-good feedback. One example of this is illustrated when taking a look at the online sports betting industry. Here, because a variety of providers and platforms exist to attract users, sportsbooks will take it among themselves to review other names in the business, giving potential customers a holistic overview of what the sports fan should expect before signing up. However, instead of simply pointing out the positive aspects of the service, these reviews incorporate pros and cons lists that reveal their authentic nature. For instance, the BetMGM Sportsbook Review points out that while some promotional opportunities are not available in all locations, the platform provides wagering on many different sports in many different U.S. states. Therefore, one of the best ways to spot a fake review is to notice whether the content is balanced on equal sides of good and bad. Of course, someone who is attempting to manipulate a customer will only point out one side of a product instead of looking at it from every angle objectively.

Always Pay Attention to the Date Stamp

When it comes to spotting fake information in general, taking a look at the date the content was written is always advisable. For example, if a review on a certain item has been published before the item has actually been released to the public, it may be phony. Likewise, if multiple reviewers have posted about a specific product on the same day within a few hours of each other, it may be the same fake review. However, during major sales holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, reviews in a short time period are quite common and do not always mean false content. Having some knowledge of the product also helps to filter out fake reviews. For instance, if you know that a certain item has been off the market for some time now but is still garnering reviews, there’s a high likelihood it may be fake. All in all, review shelf life is extremely important when looking for authenticity.

A person who does adequate research on a product before committing to it will experience a higher likelihood of customer satisfaction compared with those who do not

Beware of Photo-Less Profiles/Generic Usernames

When it comes to internet etiquette, many people know to be wary of profiles that seem underdeveloped. If the only action taken on an account has been to write one review, there’s a better chance it is fake than not. Photoless profiles are also suspicious, although sometimes not having a photo is simply the preference of the user. Generic-sounding names like ‘Joe Smith’ may also be hiding behind a fake profile and should be given an extra look. Oftentimes these things are much more obvious than you may think and can be spotted with just a few clues.

Always Dig a Bit Deeper

When it comes to fine-combing reviews, a good rule of thumb is to always dig a bit deeper, going under the surface of the review to spot any of these hints which may signify its true nature. For example, a reader may want to check the reviewer’s past posts for discrepancies or over-hyped promotional content. At the end of the day, there will always be fake reviews on the internet. However, customers can do their part to ensure they are well-educated before believing everything they read.

And on the other hand, if you’re running a business or looking to start one, it’s important to know that customer reviews do play a huge role in growth opportunities. In fact, studies show that potential buyers are more likely to take action on a product or service upon analyzing reviews. For those interested in the best review communities online, here are the top five sites that are popular with customers.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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