Fake Reviews and Testimonials: Their Common Characteristics and How to Avoid Them
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As more turn to the Internet for all their shopping needs, especially in the current COVID-19 lockdown conditions, reviews and testimonials have become more important than ever.
Every business now needs a good number of positive feedbacks from consumers to thrive. Reviews and testimonials are in fact a major part of online marketing. The findings of a 2017 study by the Spiegel Research Center showed that reviews have the potential to increase conversions by 270 percent.
The problem, however, is that a majority of consumers aren’t aware that there are numerous fake reviews published on company websites, review sites, social media, Google reviews, and many more places in cyberspace. The increasing demand for positive reviews has driven companies to start paying for positive reviews and even created a thriving review mills industry.
The sad fact is that reviews are meant to help consumers make the right decision about a company and its products but the proliferation of fake reviews has made it difficult to trust even the most genuine reviews. Savvy online shoppers now treat all reviews with a pinch of salt.
If you’re not careful, fake reviews can easily lead you to make a bad shopping decision. It’s therefore important to evaluate each online review you come across and sift the genuine reviews from fake ones.
The Difference Between Fake and Genuine Reviews
Let’s start by defining what a fake review is all about. Fake reviews are basically deceptive reviews and testimonials written by people who have neither purchased nor used the product or service they are reviewing.
The fake reviews could have been written by friends, colleagues, or employees of the product owner. The deceptive reviews can also be written and posted by paid reviewers or even bots designed to create and post fraudulent reviews.
A genuine review is written by someone who has purchased and used the product or service and is willing to share his or her experience without any form of compensation. Such reviews are usually written to help other shoppers get a better understanding of the product or service before buying.
A good example of a genuine review talking about the Evergreen Wealth Formula can be found at the product’s official website at SeanAbbottMarketing.com.
The reviews and testimonials on the product page are written by real users of the product explaining their personal experiences with the Evergreen Wealth Formula 2.0 course.
How to Avoid Fake Reviews and Testimonials
The only way you can avoid fake reviews, apart from totally abstaining from reading them, is by understanding their typical characteristics.
Here are a few tips to help you separate fake reviews from genuine ones:
- Check the level of praise heaped on the product or service by the reviewer. A genuine review will naturally have a moderate approach espousing both pros and cons of the product or service. After all, nothing in this world can really be without blemish or shortcomings. However, you may also need to avoid overly negative reviews as they could also be fake reviews posted by the company’s competitors. Look for a moderate and sensible review.
- Fake reviews are too generic and devoid of details. Check for concrete facts and details you’d expect to hear from a person who has actually used the product or service.
- You can also tell a fake review from the language used by the reviewer. The average consumer doesn’t call a product by its full official name repeatedly in an online review. They don’t describe the product in technical jargon but instead focus on features and how the features either lived up or failed to live up to his or her expectations.
- Check for the volume or number of reviews posted about the product or service within a given period of time. It’s quite common for popular products to have a lot of reviews but if the reviews were posted within a short time frame, for example within 30 minutes or an hour of each other, the reviews could just have been outsourced and therefore totally fake.
- Lastly and more importantly, check the reviewer’s profile and credibility. If most of the reviews are posted by first-time reviewers, the company could be paying for them. Check how many reviews the person has written in the recent past. If he or she has posted hundreds of reviews in one day or week, they could be a fake reviewer because nobody realistically buys such a huge number of products or services in a short time and even get time to test them and write a genuine review. However, keep in mind that experts and “top contributor” influencers are often given products to try and write reviews about them.
Take time to research and compare reviews on different sites. For example, check what other consumers are saying about the product or service on Google reviews, Yelp reviews, Amazon, and even Quora.
If you notice obvious inconsistencies, treat that as a red flag and avoid the overly positive reviews.
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