“SEO is a marketing function for sure,
but it needs to be baked into a product,
not slapped on like icing
after the cake is baked.”

Duane Forrester

Spotting Good & Bad Reviews

Review Sites

As you learned from our last blog on reviews, there are a ton of customer reviews out there. From the cornucopia of review websites and their tens of millions of reviews, how are we supposed to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones? Today we’re going to run through the top signs of “fake” and “real” customer reviews, and then we’ll cover how to decipher a helpful customer review from an unhelpful one once we know it is authentic.


Red flags- real vs. fake review:

A common concern people have when it comes to review sites is whether or not some reviews are real. Sometimes manufacturers, retailers, or salespeople post reviews about their own products and services. They are also known to pay people to post overly positive or negative reviews in order to make their companies look good, or to make competing companies look bad.

Fake posts often sound more robotic and less genuine than authentic ones. Instead of getting to the main point of the review, a fake post often lists unhelpful details – like the features of the product or service (usually already described above the reviews), or why they were using the product or service.

A real review explains the user’s experience with the product or service using details and helpful recommendations. In a real review, it often feels like a friend is walking you through the details of their experience with a product or service.

According to a study conducted by Cornell University testing fake hotel reviews, “The fakes tended to be a narrative talking about their experience at the hotel using a lot of superlatives, but they were not very good on description. Naturally: They had never been there. Instead, they talked about why they were in Chicago. They also used words like “I” and “me” more frequently, as if to underline their own credibility.”

Fake reviews often sound very exaggerated, use many exclamation points, and don’t include actual examples from an experience. They commonly urge you to go buy the product or use the service now. If a review only talks negatively or only talks positively, it’s more likely that the review is fake and written by a biased individual, since true experiences often include both positive and negative feedback.

The Percentage of Paid For Mentions, Likes, and Reviews

Another thing to look out for is if a reviewer has reviewed many products within the same category, especially on the same day. I mean, how many types of microwaves can someone really have and how can they use five different ones in one day?! Additionally, if you find similar wording in many of a reviewer’s posts, it is often evidence that the review you’re reading is fake.

Keep in mind that the red flags I have mentioned do not always mean that the review you are reading is definitely fake or not, however, if you can check off a few red flags in one review, you can have a better chance of being sure.

Another thing you can do to be sure you are reading real reviews is to read the comments and ratings on individual posts. Some review sites show verification that a reviewer has used the product. On Amazon, verified reviews are clearly marked within the post. But watch out, Amazon’s verification is not always correct and can sometimes refer to the wrong model of a product.

Ultimately, the more reviews you read, and the more review websites you use, the less likely you are to base your purchasing decisions off of false reviews.

Red flags- helpful vs. unhelpful review:

Now that you can separate real reviews from fake ones, how do you determine if a legitimate review is actually useful to you? Right off the bat, more text in a review is usually a good sign. Unless the writing is nonsense, longer reviews often include in-depth details from the writer’s experience, as well as useful recommendations to readers. An actual guide through a reviewer’s experience is more helpful than one sentence about the product or service they used. It is also helpful when reviews include pictures, so you can see what to expect when you use the product/service or go to a location.

Look out for high review scores and ranks of different reviewers – a higher score means past reviews they have posted have been rated as helpful or accurate. Amazon even lets you filter reviews from most helpful to least helpful, doing most of your good vs. bad research for you.

Now that you are a review website expert, you can make the smartest purchasing decisions possible!

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