One of the — dare we say, “interesting” — phenomenon that we encounter as an online reviews management entity is that of fake reviews. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the consumers who are out there swear by online reviews, a sizable portion of the feedback that’s floating out there is fake. At eKomi, this is something that we have to deal with on a daily basis on behalf of our customers. The sad part is that it’s not always easy to identify fake reviews. Even when you do, there are no clear-cut solutions when it comes to dealing with fake reviews. Anyway, this article identifies the culprits behind fake online reviews. We also take a look at some steps that you can take to protect yourself. The issue is rather pertinent. Most of the commercial exchanges that take place around the globe on a daily basis float on the bedrock of trust. A person trusts that a seller who is on the other side of the world is going to deliver after payment for goods and services. And customers trust that the feedback that they read about a particular product or service is genuine. Should they lose this trust, the consequences can be dire for businesses, both large and small. 

What are fake online reviews? 

Fake online reviews are easy enough to define. They are reviews that are left across the Internet by people who have not actually had dealings with the company that they are reviewing. 

Who is behind fake online reviews? 

The following are some of the entities that are the major culprits when it comes to the creation of fake online reviews: 

1. Businesses: Businesses, believe it or not, are one of the major drivers when it comes to the proliferation of fake online reviews. The business environment in which the entire world operates has become very competitive due to the interconnectedness that was brought about by the digital age. Online reviews are one of the tools that can be used to stay ahead of the pack. Now, in order to stay competitive, some unscrupulous business people hire people to give them fake reviews. They may, as an example, get 10 people to go on Yelp or on Google to give feedback, in spite of the fact that these people may not actually have sampled the product or service that the company is offering. 

2. Competitors: Again, the issue here is that of the competitive nature of the environment. Unfortunately, some people are so competitive that they go to extremes in a bid to stay ahead of everyone else. What happens then is the opposite of what we have just been talking about above. A business may hire some people to go around leaving negative reviews about a competitor. 

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3. Bloggers looking for link opportunities: This is another source of fake online reviews that most people are oblivious to. Bloggers have various tools that they can use to give their web pages greater search engine visibility. It’s all part of the typical SEO strategy. One of the things that search engines look for when assigning ranks to web pages are links. Now, most bloggers and website owners feel compelled to leave links all over the place in a bid to give their sites more visibility. But how do they do it? Well, they go around writing fake reviews, in which they “accidentally” leave a link pointing to their web pages. It’s common to find this type of review on the Internet. If you are a website owner, it’s something that you will have to deal with on a daily basis. These people have probably never even heard about you, yet they praise you in a bid to get you to approve their comment. 

4. Mischievous people: There are people out there who actually like to leave fake online reviews. It’s something that they do as a form of entertainment. Or they may previously have had a negative interaction with a business. This festering grudge drives them to leave fake reviews. 

5. People who do it for free products: Build enough of an audience through content creation, and you may find that there are tens of companies that are willing to give you free goods and services in exchange for positive reviews. It’s not all bad if the purpose is to sample a product before reviewing it. Nevertheless, there is still that element of coercion. If somebody gives you the latest phone as a sample, are you going to have enough courage and moral authority to tell it as it is should the product in question turn out to be a dud?  

What can you do to protect yourself?

As a consumer, there are a couple of things that you can do to protect yourself from fake online reviews. First, you need to make sure that you read reviews from as many sources as possible. You should never rely on reviews from only one source. So, if you are interested in a product, use Google to check out the company on Google, Yelp and other platforms. Fake online reviews can also be easily identified. All that you need to do is use a little common sense and you will be able to see that someone is gushing over a product that they have never even seen. Also make sure that you only trust reviews from verified purchases. If a person’s purchase status is unverified, then you need to take that review with a grain of salt. 

Let us help you weed out those fake reviews when you book a demo with eKomi today!