Do you own a business? If you’re listed in Google, which we’re sure of, you must have received reviews from your customers. Google Review is the aggregate review system that highlights all the reviews made by anyone who has used your product or service. This may help to rank your business in the Google Local Listing as well as provide valuable feedback to customers wishing to use your product or service.
A grave problem many businesses face with this service is ‘fake reviews’. But why do people leave fake Google reviews and how does it hamper your business?
It’s hard to ascertain a fake from the authentic reviews because they all look alike. Once a negative review is posted under your business listing, it will stay there until eternity. And, they are highly misleading.
This remains prevalent in almost every review aggregator such as TrustPilot.com, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. If the negative review receives more responses or upvotes, it is likely to shadow all the good reviews you have received until now.
A survey conducted by BrightLocal.com found that,
Nearly eight in 10 consumers say they think they’ve read a fake review in the past year. And 84% of consumers say they can’t always spot a fake review
They also concluded that,
82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses
Positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to use a local business
82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year, though these weren’t always easy to spot
How to Spot Fake Google Reviews?
There are many obvious giveaways when it comes to fake reviews.
Look for overuse of “I” and “me”
Many fake reviews include personal pronouns such as “I,” “We,” and “Me.” According to research conducted by Cornell University, online reviews that frequently use personal pronouns are more likely to be fake. Although it’s not always the case, there are many times when you read a negative review, you find something fishy about it. This is mainly because fake reviewers try to make themselves sound credible by using personal pronouns.
Beware of scene-setting
Deceivers often get away with vague complaints such as “I didn’t like the service of the hotel,” “I didn’t; like the environment.” The Cornell study found that scene-setting could ascertain real from fake reviews. An honest reviewer will always point out what they didn’t like such as “the bathroom wasn’t clean, the room service was late, the cable was poor or expensive, etc. “This can be a telltale sign!
Watch out for generic names/photo-less profiles
Most fake reviewers avoid publishing their real names or filling out complete profile detail such as photo, address, email, and number. This is one of the biggest telltale signs. And, many reviewers end up using generic names such as John Smith, Jane, Tony, etc.
Timing of the Review and Phrase Repetition
Many fake reviews are posted consecutively. This is a major giveaway. A fake reviewer generally posts multiple fake reviews at around the same time. Also, look for phrases or word repetition in multiple reviews. Most fake reviews have similar repletion of words, phrases, verbs, etc. as they are easy to come by and memorable.
Check the spelling and grammar
Many fake reviews are outsourced to content farms. The employees hired by content farms don’t have a good comprehension of the English language; hence they end up making grammatical or typo mistakes. The fake reviews are either written in poor English or not in a way a real consumer would express their opinion.
Dig deeper into the reviewer profile
Most fake reviewers have an incomplete or suspicious profile. Most professional reviewers take money to post either good or bad reviews. The trend of reviewing is so obvious that every good review they make has 5-stars and negative reviews have 0 or 1-star. Another hint is if they’ve done a lot of five-star reviews for products owned by the same company, then they’re fake reviewers.
Look for verified purchases and reach out
Many review platforms verify if the purchase or transaction took place before posting the review. If it didn’t, it’s likely to be a fake review. Reach out directly to the reviewer with questions about their review. The fake reviewers will not respond or completely avoid interacting with you. The real reviewers take the opportunity to converse and make formal complaints to help improve your service.
How to Deal with Fake Reviews?
There are two ways to deal with a fake review. The easy way is to contact Google and request to take down the negative comment. If that doesn’t work, you must hire an SEO engineer to help bring up your positive reviews.
contact the Google Team
Step 1: Consider responding to the Review
Before flagging the review for a takedown, you should consider responding to the reviewer. The negative review is an opportunity to learn about your customer’s needs and improve on your customer service. Even you don’t get the review removed, you can at least you can show your customers that you care and are willing to make amends.
Step 2: Flag the review to Google
If conversing with the reviewer doesn’t work, it’s time to flag the review and forward it to the official Google team for a takedown. This can be done on Google Maps, or in a much better case scenario, inside of business.google.com (GMB). You should bring up the review and click on the flag next to the review. The next step is to describe why you want to take the review down. Google will offer you various checkpoints. If you feel like it’s the case of a fake review, then you can click the right checklist and proceed with describing it in the next section.
Step 3: Describe your issue
Put together a clear, concise explanation as to why Google should remove the review. A review aggregator site is less likely to remove a review just because you believe it’s fake.
Submit the URL of the review and briefly describe your concern about the fake review. After submitting your request all you can do is wait until Google’s team gets back to you.
In most cases, the fake review won’t be taken down. The review aggregator site has its own conditions when dealing with removing any review. If that happens, all you can do is ‘move on.’
Capitalize on Negative Review
If complaining about the fake review to Google Team doesn’t help, you can get in touch with SEO engineers who specialize in optimizing the reviews. Now we aren’t talking about manipulating the reviews but bringing positive reviews to the top so it completely overshadows the negative review.
Some of the steps for optimizing positive reviews include:
Increase the ‘upvote’ on your positive reviews. The review aggregator algorithm is designed to bring up the review that has “most views” and “most likes” first.
If you don’t have enough positive reviews, the SEO engineers will help to contact your previous customers and request them to add a positive review on the review aggregator site. This will help to bring in fresh positive reviews.
Either the reviewer responds to you or not, you should consider replying to the negative review and put your side of the story. This will help the honest readers to get to know both sides of the story before deciding further.
Searchable Design is the best digital marketing agency in the US specializing in on-page optimization and off-page optimization along with optimizing positive reviews on different review aggregator sites. Get in touch with us to find out more about how you can deal with fake Google reviews.