We guide you through how to deal with a fake review, using simple and clear steps to stop it undermining your business.
Most people check online reviews before booking a table or booking a room. Accordingly, it is crucial for customers that these reviews are genuine, because only in this way can one trust the opinions of “customers” on review portals. Accordingly, false reviews, so-called fake reviews, can be a problem because customers decide either for or against a company, but based on false statements.
- How to deal with a fake review on Google and other platforms
How to deal with a fake review on Google and other platforms
A few years ago, Harvard Business School put the proportion of fake reviews at up to 20%. In this article, we show, among other things, how to find fake reviews and how to deal with a fake review once you identify it.
Fake reviews are a common problem
On review sites, such as TripAdvisor, the review system does not have to prove that you have really been to a restaurant/hotel. Of course, TripAdvisor has policies in place, but it’s simply too many reviews (close to 900 million by the end of 2020) for the team to control every one. A review is checked for content, language and relevance, but it is checked in an automated process and without the details of an assessment.
But as on Google, owners of a restaurant or hotel can tag reviews if you believe it is not based on real experiences. Fake reviews can be positive or negative in nature – this depends on their origin and the destination why they were written.
For example, there are various providers on the Internet that offer good reviews against payment. By the way, we do not recommend that you ever use such services. It’s not only unfair, it’s also unsustainable, because you don’t learn from real customers to really do a better job.
Of course, there are also negative fake reviews, perhaps written by unfair competitors or by former employees who want to reduce their frustration. In any case, all fake reviews are not based on real experiences and/or are extreme.
But how do rating platforms combat fake reviews?
Because online reviews are so relevant to so many companies from different industries, rating platforms have developed various means to curb and punish fake reviews. TripAdvisor, for example, punishes companies that have not complied with the rules with a large amount of red-flagged information at the top of the page and punishes them in their ranking.
Other companies try to ensure via customer verification that really only real customers are allowed to evaluate a product. For example, Google launched the “Verified Customer Reviews” at the beginning of the year, which are currently only possible for sellers with an online store.
There, customers are asked to write a review after their purchase and so you know that it was a real customer. This definitely makes ratings more credible for everyone – future consumers who want to find out, as well as companies that want to improve.
How to distinguish fake reviews from real ones
As the owner/manager of a business, at least you want to be sure whether a review is real feedback or a fake review. To do this, follow these steps to identify it as the first stage for how to eat with a fake review:
Language: Pay attention to the language you choose in a rating. If this is extreme, positive as well as negative, and above all includes general phrases,this can be an indication. On the other hand, in a real assessment, many details of the visit are always given and less is written in the classic “marketing jargon”.
Evaluator: on most portals you can view the profile of an evaluator. For example, the number of reviews already written and how long the profile exists are signs of whether fake or not. Specifically, a profile that has just been created and only this one review contains indicates fake.
Timing: If you as a company have received a noticeable number of reviews in a very short time and can not really assign the guests, this is another sign of fake reviews.
Our tips will certainly help you track down fake reviews, but of course you can never be 100% sure, or the chance is great that you can’t find all the fake reviews. Indeed, researchers at Cornwell University have found that people are unskilled when it comes to distinguishing truth and lies in online reviews. The university has developed software for this purpose, which detects 90% of the fake reviews. None of the major rating portals use the software, but you can check for reviewskeptic.com whether it is a real or invented rating.
What can you do as a business now if a review is conspicuous, but you’re also not sure if it’s a fake review? In any case, you should answer the reviews.
We recommend that you answer the review politely, but also to draw attention to the fact that the writer has only conditional credibility. Also, ask for an additional contact to learn more details, but don’t use the name of the operation in the answer (Google-relevant).
How to report a fake review
You have now answered a possible fake review, but would still like to report it and have it removed at best? We’ve already briefly touched on this topic in one of our older posts about how to do delete a review on Google. But here’s a summary of how to do it on the biggest portals like Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.
- On Google: Hover over the corresponding rating and click on the small flag. Now fill in the form. Google will then check your request, which can take up to two weeks. If you don’t hear anything, you can contact the support team via GoogleMyBusiness.
- On TripAdvisor: Log in with your account and select your business. Then you can click on “Reviews” in the menu and select “Report rating”. You must then fill out a small form and specify the reason why you want to remove a review.
- On Yelp: You must be logged in to your Yelp for Business account. Then find the suspicious rating in the “Reviews” menu and mark it (flag). The Yelp team will then look at your case and get in touch with you.
When can a review be called fake?
First of all, it should be clarified what is meant by a fake rating on Google or other portals. From the point of view of the rated company, everything is possibly “fake” that does not correspond to one’s own perception. We would like to try to objectively form a definition.
Is a review fake if it was written by a person with a pseudonym? Not necessarily, because “fake” means first of all that something is fake. A review of a person hiding behind a pseudonym is not fake simply because the real name is missing. We do not think it is correct to speak of a fake rating in general terms. After all, there is also the right to freedom of expression, which indirectly makes it possible not only to express one’s opinion by giving up the clear name.
Concrete description of a fake review
By a fake review, we mean much more the case scenario of either spreading lies or giving people reviews that are not entitled to do so. Anyone who spreads false statements of fact always acts inadmissibly. Such a review is ‘fake’ because it is about fake content.
Here, Google already has its own interest in cracking down on the fake entries, as users trust Google and quickly withdraw the trust if it turns out that only fake content is published on Google.
If people leave a review who are not entitled to leave a review, one could also class them as a fake review. This is the case, for example, when services are assessed without being used.
Are fake reviews always illegal?
Deleting a fake review on Google requires that it violates Google’s policies or applicable law. Fake reviews in the above sense are therefore to be distinguished in this respect:
An assessment that contains false statements of fact and is therefore to be regarded as “fake” is legally well-challenged.
Untrue statements of fact are always inadmissible and can therefore be combated by legal means – out of court or in court. Fake reviews in the sense that pseudonyms are used, however, are not illegal, as there is no obligation to disclose the clear name.
Fake reviews of people who have not even met the rated service or the rated company are, in our view, illegal and the courts here also require in part that the evaluation platform ensures that the assessment is based at least on some real experience.
In this guide, we explained the characteristics of fake reviews and showed how to deal with a fake review. However, it is also clear that dishonest assessments are not in anyone’s interest, certainly not in the interests of rating platforms, as they live on their credibility. We have also shown you as a business how to identify fake reviews with you and how to respond to such reviews.