Before buying anything, many of us do online research about it.
Online reviews of products and services can be a great help to find the best solution for you.
However, there are unfortunately many fake reviews created every day. Luckily there are also many honest and helpful reviews. But how do you spot the difference?
I have worked with online marketing for years, and I know many of the tricks used. In this article I will show you how to spot fake online reviews, so you will know how to find the reliable ones that can truly help you make good buying decisions.
What is a fake online review?
There are several kinds of fake reviews online.
One kind of reviews is the reviews you see on for example Google, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, etc. BBC has revealed in an article that a lot of fake 5-star reviews are sold online.
The big platforms where these reviews are posted are of course doing what they can to avoid this, as it destroys their reputation.
Even though they do what they can, it is good to be critical and be able to spot fake reviews yourself. Also, many smaller review sites do not have the budget to have the same security and quality control, so here you need to know what to look for.
Another kind of fake reviews are the ones posted on blogs and website by the owners themselves.
There are many amazing websites and blogs with very helpful information focused on quality.
There are thousands of sites that create honest and reliable reviews about different topics. Here on OnlineZeroToHero.com I for example do my best to post quality reviews of products and services related to online marketing.
Unfortunately, there are at least as many blogs with superficial reviews and information, and at times even outright false information meant to manipulate you into making a certain decision.
I personally use reviews a lot when making buying decisions, and it is great to hear about other peoples’ experiences. You just need to make sure you can spot which reviews to trust and which ones to disregard.
More about that a little later – let me first just quickly explain why people even create or buy these fake reviews.
Why do people create false reviews?
It is probably fairly obvious that the reason some companies are willing to buy fake reviews on for example Trustpilot, etc. is because they know positive reviews can help them sell more.
In my opinion this is highly unethical, and it is also illegal in many cases. According to the Guardian, an Italian man has for example been sentenced to prison for selling fake reviews on Tripadvisor.
That it is illegal and unethical does however not mean it does not happen. Positive reviews can lead to a lot more income, and some people are therefore willing to try to buy this to boost their income.
The reason people sometimes are writing false reviews on their own websites might however not be so clear.
Often the reason for this is that they make money through what is called affiliate marketing. In short this means that they will post a link to certain products, and if people ends up buying through these links, they will earn a commission.
Affiliate marketing is a 100% legit way to make money online, and it is a great way for website owners and bloggers to be able to cover their costs and make money. If this was not an option, it would not be possible to spend so much time creating in-depth content.
I also use affiliate marketing myself. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep a website like this going, and if it was not possible to earn some money, it would not be possible to have a website like this. In general there would be very little valuable info online, as people would simply not be able to invest the time and effort it takes, if they could not have the costs covered.
In my opinion it is a win-win situation – the website owners spend a lot of time researching, testing, and writing. The website visitors get help to make the right decision and save a lot of time, and in return for the effort the website owner earn a commission.
Unfortunately there are of course people taking advantage of this and that do not care about doing affiliate marketing honestly. They only care about making a commission, and do not care about how what they say affects the people who ends up following their recommendations.
You need to be able to spot these fake reviews that are just out to sell without telling you the full truth.
How to spot fake reviews?
There are certain signs you can use to spot and find fake reviews. It can be tricky, but if you are aware of the following signs, you will have a good chance to steer clear of the fake reviews and find the ones with helpful info that can help you.
Sign #1 – Sounds like a script
Some fake reviews seem very natural. But often they do however sound a bit like a script.
This is because people do not really have anything positive to say or any real positive experiences, and it therefore ends up sounding strange.
Many years ago I actually worked in an online marketing agency that sometimes helped to create reviews for companies. They very often ended up sounding strange, and they were often spotted and banned from for example forums. They can of course be created more naturally, but often if it sounds fake, it very likely is because it is fake.
This especially goes for video reviews. Many make-money-online scams for example use fake video reviews. These are very easy to get, as they are sold openly on a platform like fiverr, and you can get them for as little as $5.
These “actors” and “actresses” have been given a script, and it very much sounds like a script. If you see these exaggerated video testimonials, be aware that they are very easy to buy, and they are likely fake, if they sound fake.
Sign #2 – Overly positive
Positive reviews can of course be a good sign, as some products deserves a really positive review.
But the true reviews often do this in a balanced way. They for example often share their own experiences, and you can hear it is actually real experiences. They make it their own review.
The false reviews are often more or less just a repetition of the sales page of the product itself. If you have the sense that a review is trying too hard to convince, it might be because it is just trying to sell and not to help.
For review sites like Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, etc. you can also sometimes see examples of A LOT of five-star reviews for a small brand suddenly posted. I have for example before seen a small internet marketing service having thousands of overly positive reviews.
From personal experience I knew it was not as good as claimed, and compared to its bigger competitors it had many more reviews, and more or less only five-star reviews. This did not seem natural at all – if it does not seem natural, it is very likely because it is not.
Sign #3 – Pushy sales techniques
This sign is something you should mostly look for on blogs.
Some bloggers use really pushy sales techniques to get you to sign up and follow their recommendation. Like for example claiming there is only a few spots available, when it is a product that has been available for a long time and will be for a long time, claims that the price will go up, if you leave their page, etc.
The use of sales techniques does of course not necessarily mean that something is a scam or fake. Sales techniques is a part of marketing.
But it can also be too pushy and like they are trying too hard. So even though pushy sales techniques can not be used alone to judge if a review is fake, you should be careful, if somebody is trying too hard to convince you without also helping you with relevant information.
Sign #4 – Promotes everything
This is a sign you should particularly look for on blogs with reviews or in email promotions.
If you read a review on a blog, take a look at the other reviews the same person has posted there. Sometimes you will find that the person more or less only do extremely positive reviews.
You might even find very positive reviews of products or services you know are not good.
If a website/blog only has overly positive reviews and not any balanced information, there is a good chance the blog is only created to convince you to buy and not to help you make good decisions.
In this connection you should also be aware of the email newsletters you receive. If they are promoting all the time, and all kinds of different products without giving you any helpful info, you should be careful.
I for example signed up for a newsletter by the guy behind Speed Wealth System. I get several newsletters per day with very pushy sales techniques. And for all kind of different get-rich-quick products.
One day I get an email about a new secret system that will make you rich fast, and the next day it is a different system. The emails are not at all giving me any in-depth or valuable information, and I have never received an offer in these emails that I would consider worth it.
So if you are constantly bombarded with “secret” and amazing offers, be aware that it might just be to sell whatever makes that person a commission and not about what can help you make a good decision.
Online reviews are important and reading these reviews can be an amazing way to get in-depth and helpful information before you make a buying decision. It is something I always use myself before buying anything, and it has saved me a lot of time and money.
However, there are unfortunately also many false reviews online. Positive reviews can create a lot of income, and some people and companies are therefore willing to do whatever it takes to get the positive reviews and sales.
Therefore, it is good to be able to spot the signs a review might be fake and then be cautious believing its recommendations.
If you are aware of the signs explained above, you will have a good chance to filter the reliable and helpful reviews from the false ones, and thereby get help to make good buying decisions instead of being lured into buying poor quality.
If you have any comments, questions, or if have any experiences with fake reviews online, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.