How to spot a fake review

With over 80% of consumers making their purchase online versus in a brick and mortar location, product reviews have become critical to merchants to help grow their ecommerce business. However, some companies have tried to inflate their ratings with faux reviews while other companies have been trolled by competitors with damaging reviews in an attempt to hurt their business.

Over 90% of consumers will read reviews prior to a purchase and 88%+ trust these online reviews and treat them as a recommendation from a friend. This leads into false reviews having a real impact in swaying purchasing behavior. A Harvard Business Review article noted that 15% to 20% of reviews online are indeed fake.

Consumers have come to rely more and more on reviews to influence their purchase. How can you spot a fake product review? Here are top tips to look for when reading reviews to know if you can trust they are real.

  1. The review has a 5 star review but has little details. Consumers are typically are very descriptive in reviews and sharing their experiences. Reviews that lack detail are typically fake since the writer doesn’t have the experience to write a robust review.
  2. The review seems more like a product pitch from marketing. Reviews that are well written and make you feel like you are watching an infomercial tend to be written by a marketing department and fake. Examples of phrases include “never before seen”, “revolutionary”, “like no other” and “one of a kind”.
  3. The review has a higher percentage of verbs versus nouns. An analysis of the language used by fake reviews showed a higher percentage of verbs versus nouns. The research concluded the use of overly pleasant or scary tactics.
  4.  The products full name used several times. This tactic has been used to help with ranking of a product (for search engines). When reading reviews online they should sound natural and not like you are reading a marketing brochure. Reviews that tend to be either extremely positive or extremely negative may not be from a true consumer. Most reviews have a balance of both positive and negative points. Another great way to look at it is does it sound conversational like you are talking with friend. When in doubt, there are several tools available online that will give the review a “grade” to determine if it has many of the attributes commonly found in fake reviews. One great tool is fakespot.com.
  5. When considering if a review is real, check the customer is indeed a verified purchaser as these tend to be more legitimate. Also, use a reputable website that gathers reviews from the web and do not accept either products or money for the review.