Living in the ‘review age’ that we do, many sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp and eCommerce platforms like Amazon pivot their business models around consumer feedback, often securing successful sales off the back of online recommendations.

That's why distinguishing whether a customer review profile contains genuine and authentic recommendations is so important to maintain a positive online experience for both consumers and businesses owners.

What to watch out for...

1. Real reviews sound like real people wrote them. Focus on the language used. If it specifies crucial information about how a product performed in the home or how an item of clothing looked on - chances are it’s real. Try to avoid reviews that are jargon or ‘tech’ heavy that features formal product names or model numbers.

2. This also goes for profiles. It's worth spending a few minutes checking if a customer review comes from an authentic profile source, where their identity is revealed, usually with a picture and a name as a basic indication of this.

3. Sounds too good to be true? It probably is. Checking the time and number of reviews a product has can determine its authenticity. For example, if a product has 3 reviews in the space of 30 minutes this is more than likely a marketing tool used to create a ‘buzz’ around a new product or promotional item.

4. All the world’s a stage, except it's not. If a review features photo’s of the consumer interacting with a product and they feel staged, false or contrived then they probably are. This is the same for the wording of the feedback. If a number of reviews have similar wording pattern, then they probably aren’t genuine, so steer clear!

What tools are out there to detect fake reviews?

Wondering if that toaster really deserves five stars? Fakespot, an online tool that helps you separate junk reviews from the useful ones is here to save the day!

Used exclusively for Amazon reviews and Yelp listings, all you need to do is copy and paste the Amazon link into the Fakespot search bar and it’ll generate a reliable review score. It can even be downloaded as a Chrome plug-in to make that little bit life easier!

Who is fighting against fake reviews?

As of this year, most sites are seriously clamping down on bogus reviews, for example, Yelp has actually sued over fraudulent online reviews.

Equally, Amazon has entered into court battles with over 1,000 different negative reviewers over what they call “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews detected on their site. Many of the fake reviewers had touted their false review service, using multiple IP addresses and accounts. It’s pretty big business this fake review game!

Even Google has finally started cracking down. They also use the program Fakespot to identify fake reviewers with better accuracy.

Some general tips to keep in mind

While reviewers may give their opinions, often they have no expertise or real experience and therefore have no frame of reference about how well something works by comparison. It’s hard to say how good something is if you don’t know what else is out there. You can’t always believe what you see when it comes to five-star reviews.

Although not strictly ‘fake’, sometimes people are just hard to please, don’t understand a product or the type of services on offer - which produces misleading reviews. For example, a customer may review a budget hotel and complain about basic facilities. This is an example of where a person has completely misunderstood what is on offer and sometimes it’s just down you to recognise these errors for yourself!


By Jennifer Gwinnutt, digital marketing assistant at iWeb

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