Review Fraud, Economic Incentives, and Why It’s Not Worth It

With over 100 million monthly views and millions of reviews, Yelp is a consumer review site that many of us rely on. Studies show that reviews on Yelp and similar sites have a direct influence on sales. Positive reviews bring in more business while negative ones can drive customers away. However, much like other review sites, the company has dealt with review fraud through the years. It has become a disease that has led many consumers to question the credibility of even the most legitimate of reviews.

Reviews bring business in and some businesses leave fake positive reviews for themselves so they can get a slice of the market. Others leave fake reviews for the competition in an attempt to drive more customers to their doors. This often begs the question of whether leaving fake reviews is worth the time and effort. It must be noted that this is cheating but aside from that fact, leaving positive reviews on your own business is a bad idea.

Review sites already have algorithms in place that can detect review fraud and getting oneself involved in this is not worth the trouble. By trouble we mean the possibility of legal action, getting a consumer alert button on your business profile on the biggest review sites and being branded by consumers as a business that can’t be trusted.

It is interesting that even with the consequences mentioned above, there are still some business that put their reputation on the line for the sake of certain economic incentives. It must be noted that businesses resort to such measures because of their bad reputation online. Low ratings on consumer review sites can make review fraud look like a solution since it has been found through numerous studies that an increase in ratings means more business.

Honesty is Still the Best Policy

You need the trust of consumers for your business to be successful or for it to become more successful. A good stream of positive reviews will do just that but they need to be real reviews from real customers who have tried your product or service. Review fraud is risky and it is not worth your time or your money. The best solution still lies on getting more reviews from loyal customers. Asking them for a review is always a good idea but be sure not to offer any incentives for them to do so. Have them write an honest review because that drives better traffic and gives potential customers an idea on how good your service is or how amazing your product is.

Negative Reviews Left by Your Competitors

If you are getting an onslaught of snarky and ugly reviews across different websites, Review Fire can help you respond to all of them through the Review Fire platform. Our software can make this particular task a lot easier to manage and can significantly lessen the time you spend online responding to reviews. The steps below can help businesses handle fake reviews.

  1. Respond

If you have reason to believe that your competitors are leaving you negative reviews, respond to them one by one and do so as politely as you can. You will be writing those responses for the benefit of prospective customers who might come across the review. These reviews, although fake,  should be treated with the same kind of care that you would give to a reviewer who posted a legitimate complaint. Remember, this fake review being visible online won’t hurt your business if you respond to it the right way. It is even an opportunity for you to show everyone that your company’s customer care is top notch. It also shows potential customers that your company is willing to offer solutions when things go wrong.

If you see information included in the review that seems made up, point this out in such a way that readers would realize that the review is fake. You may be able to identify fake reviews but most consumers can’t. Assisting them in this department will go a long way.

  1. Do Some Digging

It is a good idea to take a look at the review and the one who posted it. This search might lead you to some evidence that the reviews posted under your business’ profile are fakes.

Do not exclude the possibility that you are the only one being attacked. Your competitors have other competitors too which means that there is a good chance that they left the same reviews on other profiles. If you spot similar reviews, take a screenshot and proceed to Step 3.

  1. Flag the Review

Armed with the evidence you found and after responding to it, flag the review immediately. Escalating the matter to the review site will help you get the review removed. If you have a chance to send in your evidence, do so because this would help the site decide whether they should get rid of the entry or not.

  1. Push the Review Out of Sight

Sometimes flagging a review just doesn’t solve the problem but getting legitimate reviews will. You would need to start asking your loyal customers to write a review about your business and keep at it until the fake review is drowned out. It is beneficial to be active in this front though whether you have a fake review to drive out of sight or not.

  1. Prevention

While there is no guarantee that you can stop your competitors from leaving fake reviews on your business profile, you can prevent this from happening by being vigilant. If you get reviews regularly, it is best to check all your online profiles on a daily basis. This will allow you to respond to all types of reviews faster as opposed to letting them stew for too long