Is your online reputation being destroyed by fake reviews on Google and other platforms? 4 easy ways to spot a potentially fake review and what you can do about it.
Many business owners report receiving reviews from people they have never interacted with and whom have never been a customer of the business. This may be easy to identify for certain companies, such as law firms, who have a record of customers with who they engage with and often have associated client services agreements. Other businesses such as shops and restaurants don’t usually keep customer details, so may not be able to demonstrate that the reviewer was never a customer. However, all types of industries are open to falling victim to fake reviews online, and this can have a significantly detrimental impact on the business’s online reputation.
Who makes fake reviews that sabotage your online reputation in Australia?
Essentially anyone is able to create an account with an alias and leave a review, which could be positive or negative. In some instances, the actual customer may be afraid to put their name alongside the review, particularly if it is quite negative. However, it is very common for us at Internet Removals (online reputation management agency in Australia) to see a pattern of fake reviews from a competitor who wants to drive business away from you, or from a staff member who may have been dismissed and is unhappy about the situation, wishing to destroy the business’s reputation.
In any case, it is important that fake reviews are identified and action is taken, particularly because negative reviews can have such a harmful effect on the business’s reputation, their ability to engage new customers and ultimately, their overall economic growth.
How can you spot a fake review, possibly on Google, Facebook or any other sites?
Identifying a fake review is not an exact science, and the presence of the following factors doesn’t confirm that the review is in fact fake. This list provides some of the key features we, at Internet Removals, notice when dealing with fake reviews:
- The name of the reviewer – it is quite common for people making fake accounts to use a name that appears to be fake and unlikely (Patricia Wondermountain) or to use a name that is perhaps considered very common (John Smith).
- The number of reviews the reviewer has left – on platforms such as Google Map Reviews, you are able to see the number of reviews that the person has previously written. At Internet Removals, it is common for us to see only a single review (the one left on your business) and no other reviews, which could imply that the account was created only to review your business and therefore promotes the likelihood that it’s a fake account.
- The frequency of negative reviews being left – If you check your Google Maps Business page and suddenly within a timespan of a few hours or days there has been an influx of negative reviews, this may be a competitor who is deliberately trying to reduce your Google rating. When the influx of reviews are combined with strange or common names and only one review being left, this may indicate that you are dealing with fake reviews from perhaps one single person who is trying to harm your business.
- The content of the reviews – this is one you will really have to assess on your own. Think about the content and consider if it could actually be true. For example, is it possible someone did receive poor quality food, or could they have had a negative interaction with your staff? It’s best to do a bit of research and asking around the business to determine if the situation being described actually happened. When negative reviews are left one after the other, often in a short space of time, we often see similarities between the content left. Additionally, the accusations may be extremely wild, such as claiming that your staff member swore and called someone a particular name. It’s also common to see the same sort of language used by these reviewers, which is something to be cautious of when trying to identify fake reviews. If these are things that you are sure aren’t happening in your business and you can assess that the reviews are frequent and consistent, it may be a sign of a fake review.
How can you support us in our applications to remove the fake review?
One of the best ways that you can assist Internet Removals is to provide confirmation that the person writing the review was never a customer of the business. This is easier for certain industries that keep customer records and can be a useful tool to demonstrate to the third party hosting the review that it is in fact false, as the person was never a customer.
If they are a client/customer and you feel the review is fake or contains misleading or deceptive comments, if possible, you can also provide Internet Removals with any supporting information or documentation that further outlines the circumstances. This could include screenshots of any communication between the business and the client/customer such as emails or messages or, simply provide us with an overview of your own account that outlines the interaction the business had with the client/customer.
You may also wish to provide screenshots of your CRM or accounting records, demonstrating that no such persons exist. Alternatively, some of our clients swear a statutory declaration to confirm their position that no such experience every occurred within the business.
How can we, online reputation management expert in Australia help you?
We may be able to assist you with:
- Identifying potentially fake reviews (review management);
- Applications to remove fake reviews;
- Online reputation management.
We can be contacted by either phoning 1300 039 196 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.