How to recognise forged online reviews

29 November 2018 |  by Mark Leenards

Online reviews are gaining in importance for all types of companies. Research shows that the majority of online customers, often check reviews before purchasing a product. Therefore, online reviews are becoming significantly more eminent in the online purchasing process, which makes it impossible for companies to ignore online reviews.

A lot of online companies (e.g. webshops) know about this and try to engage with their customers in order for them to leave positive feedback. They ask their clients to leave reviews and occasionally even reward customers for a good review. To benefit, those reviews are then implemented in their advertisement. It is evident that good reviews do have a lot of benefits. The process of writing a review should, therefore, be as easy as possible, to stimulate the customers to write one.

Fake reviews?

It is obvious, that online reviews are often used in the orientation phase of the purchasing process. Reviews are very helpful to persuade customers to buy a certain product or service. Since customers appear to have faith in the judgements of other customers. Acquiring many good reviews takes time. However, some companies (and also clients) have been caught for faking their online reviews, to influence and persuade potential customers. They hire students, for example, to write these online reviews.

Posting fake reviews or paying others to leave a fake one is forbidden. National authorities, can take actions against misconduct by companies, but even these parties struggle with effectively solving the issue of fake review. It is getting harder and harder to fight against fake reviews.

It is therefore very important to know when you can or cannot trust a review. That is why in this blog post we give tips on how to recognise fake and forged online reviews, by discussing their characteristics.

How to recognise forged online reviews

Identifying fake reviews is not easy and occasionally even impossible, but there certainly are some aspects you can look for in reviews, that could indicate a review being fake. We do not guarantee that all reviews with these characteristics are fake, but the following elements can potentially give an indication.

Only a single review

It is clever to take a closer look at a user profile that received positive reviews. When this person does only have one review, it is recommended to be alert. However, it could also mean someone has registered recently. It is therefore wise to not judge the account based on just this one aspect, but in combination with the other aspects mentioned below.

Multiple reviews with very similar phrasing

Another characteristic of a forged review is the style of writing that is used. Fake reviews are often written with very identical phrasing and a construction that is much alike. When you are suspecting a review to be fake, it is wise to take a closer look at the reviewer’s profile. When (s)he has written multiple reviews with almost the exact same phrasing, often something is wrong.

Another important note is that fake reviews use more exclamation marks, while objective reviewers generally use fewer and describe their experiences in a more neutral way. Fake reviews can often be over excited, without making small remarks on the product.

Frequent use of the full product name

Some fake reviews are easy to recognise, at least when the product has a complex name. Fake reviewers often use the full product name in a review, in order to improve the SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is the process of driving organic traffic to a website, by getting higher in a search engine index. The higher up, the bigger the chance a potential client finds the webpage and thus buys the product. Objective reviewers have no benefit in using the full product name in their review, so when this occurs, it often is a bad sign.

Strange looking username

A strange looking username can also indicate a fake review. True reviewers that leave an objective and honest review, often do this under their own name or with a username that is related to their own name. Reviews of users with a strange username are not necessarily fake, but could sometimes suggest something is off.

When you recognise one of the factors mentioned above, it does not automatically mean the review is forged. However, when more than one factor is applicable, the chance that a review is fake does certainly increase.

Share your trust online via Trustier

Trustier is a new tool that makes it possible to express trust in a company or individual. We work with the so-called Trustcoin, the online trust currency. Trustier makes it possible for trust to become visible and measurable in a more trustworthy way.

The trust-score (which is called the Trust Tier) that is constructed based on the received ratings can be used by companies as a marketing tool. Consumers can use the Trust Tier as an on- and offline instrument, for example when doing an online purchase.