Are you sick and tired of fake customer reviews ruining your star rating and online reputation? Review sites are getting better at detecting fraudulent reviews, but they can still slip through. Therefore, it is vital to reply to fake reviews and remove them before doing even more damage.
Fake customer reviews can be exceedingly hurtful. You know you do your best and are responsible enough to be accountable for genuine mistakes. But, on the other hand, reading negative customer feedback about your business can be infuriating. And reading a bad review can knock your confidence. So, if you notice an inappropriate review that appears to contain fake content, you must do something about it.
What’s more, fake customer reviews can do severe damage to your bottom line and your reputation. After all, not everyone knows how to spot a fake review. As a result, they can put potential customers off from engaging with your business, and your revenue will drop. In fact, it’s estimated that one negative review is enough to drive away 20 percent of potential customers.
When fake customer reviews for your business appear, you can’t afford to ignore them, especially when you can do something about them.
How to Spot a Fake Customer Review
Spotting a bogus review isn’t too tricky if you know what to look for. Typically, fake reviews lack specific details, come from an anonymous client, or be a one-star review without any comments. In addition, poor grammar and spelling mistakes are possible signs of a fake online review.
Let’s look in more detail at the tell-tale signs on the types of reviews that may be fake.
1. Fake reviews lack detail
If a real customer has a complaint about a business, they will talk about the specifics. For example, a genuine negative review on a hotel would not simply say, “The room wasn’t clean.” There would usually be more specific information. For example, a legitimate review would mention hairs in the bath, dirty glasses, or stained sheets. Vague reviews that don’t contain a lot of detail are often fake. Honest reviews tend to be very specific.
2. Look for orphan reviews
Orphan reviews are one or two-star reviews without any comments. Again, an actual customer who is genuinely upset will want to vent their frustrations and warn others not to make the same mistake.
3. Reviews with fake content tend to be heavy on the verbs
Instead of using adjectives that describe the experience, fake reviewers add a lot of action words to sound more convincing. Much like having detail, accurate reviews have adjectives coming from first-hand knowledge.
4. Fake reviews are often short and poorly written
The idea of a fake customer review is often to bring down the average rating on your profile. People paid to leave fake reviews aren’t going to spend a lot of time writing long reviews. The task is often outsourced to non-native speakers, so spelling, grammar, and punctuation may be poor.
5. The fake reviewer’s profile will be incomplete
Another way to spot a phony review is if the profile is incomplete. For example, suppose a disgruntled employee or your competition is trying to damage your reputation. In that case, they aren’t going to want their fake review to be easily traced. The same can be valid for someone paid to leave fakes reviews, plus they will often have various avatars. So again, look at the profile—no profile picture or limited personal information suggests a fake account.
6. Check the reviewer’s history
Most consumers will have a bad experience occasionally. But it becomes suspicious if a reviewer only ever leaves negative feedback. It’s almost impossible that every business they try is terrible. A genuine reviewer will typically have at least a balance of positive and negative reviews.
7. The customer posted on the wrong company
Maybe the fake review is genuine, just that the person left the less than glowing review for the wrong business. Accidents do happen. So suppose a customer is ranting about something that is completely unrelated to your business. In that case, it’s still classed as a fake review. It can still harm your online reputation and overall star rating. So you need to flag the review in question and request its removal.
How Easy Is It to Buy Fake Reviews?
It is surprisingly effortless to buy fake reviews. Google will flag a suspected false review. But ironically, do a quick Google search like “buy reviews,” and there are millions of results. Unscrupulous companies will leave fraudulent positive reviews on your Google My Business (GMB) profile and other review platforms for the right price.
NBC News experimented to see how easy it was to buy fake reviews. They set up a gardening company on the social media platform Facebook. The news company paid $168 to a review company. After 24 hours, the online profile had 999 likes, and after a few days, there were over 600 five-star reviews.
Unfortunately, many small businesses have purchased fake reviews to try and boost their average ratings and review profile. However, Google penalizes companies that buy reviews with fake content.
Related reading: Why you should never buy reviews.
How to Reply to Fake Reviews
It’s vitally important to reply to all fake reviews to protect your online reputation. It’s crucial to respond to all reviews, and this includes replying to bogus reviews. Potential customers don’t only read reviews. Studies show that 89 percent of consumers read responses.
How you handle your reviews speaks to your dedication to providing excellent customer service. Before replying to any type of review, make sure you are calm and have read the review carefully.
There are two principal ways to reply to fake reviews. Here we have two examples depending on whether you are sure the review is fake or not.
Dear [customer name] (if available)
Thank you for your comments regarding [product]. Unfortunately, we have checked our records and are unable to find any information on your purchase. Please get in touch with us on [email] or [phone number] so that we can resolve this issue for you.
We look forward to hearing from you
[Your name and position]
However, suppose you know the review contains incorrect information. For example, there are lies, or it was intended for a different company, you can send a polite reply asking them to remove the review as you believe it was written by mistake. In that case, flag the suspicious review with Google.
Respond to fake reviews as soon as possible. This way, you can reduce the potential damage as readers see that you aren’t just ignoring a negative review.
How to Remove Fake Customer Reviews from Google
Even after replying to a fake review, you still need to take steps to remove the questionable review from Google. There are various ways to flag a fake review depending on the device you are using and how you access your business profile.
- From a computer: Navigate to your reviews in your business profile from Google Maps, Google Search, or your GMB account. When you have found the fake review, click the three vertical dots and choose Flag as inappropriate. If you are using Google Search, you will need to click on the review’s star rating to flag the review in question.
- From Android, iPhones, and iPads: Use Google Maps and Google Search. Instead of flag review, you will find a report review. From Google Maps, you can also report the profile.
Only flag inappropriate reviews that you think are fake. Google won’t remove a bad review just because you don’t like what the customer has said. Even then, there is no guarantee that Google will remove the review.
Related reading: How to flag a fake review.
What Can You Do If Google Doesn’t Remove a Fake Review?
What if Google doesn’t remove a fake review that you have flagged? The only thing you can do is bury the review by getting more positive reviews. If you want more positive reviews the right way, you can use Starloop, review management software.
Starloop lets users view all their Facebook and Google reviews in one combined inbox. In addition, you receive notifications when new reviews come in. This allows you to manage reviews properly and respond to negative reviews fast.
To get more reviews, Starloop sends review requests to your customers. So that it’s easy to share opinions online, email and SMS invitations have a friendly message and a link to your review site.
What’s Starloop’s secret to helping its members get more reviews? Starloop has a “one tree for one review” policy. This is an excellent incentive for your customers to share their honest feedback. They will be impressed by your service and by your commitment to being a green company. This free service boosts your online reputation and helps the planet get more trees.
Starloop has pricing plans to suit any size of business. Starting from just $47 per month, you can start getting more genuine online reviews today. Unlike many other review management software, there is no additional cost for other locations. In addition, you can take advantage of a free trial period to discover how user-friendly it is. Plus, there are no lengthy contracts.
Starloop is a risk-free way to get more positive customer reviews and reduce the damage from fake reviews.