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How to Spot and Remove Fake Google Reviews

Kevin James Curran
Jun 27, 2021 3:06:53 PM

Customer feedback is the currency of credibility in the world of business. They help you understand the needs of your target demographic and improve your product or service.

However, with the rise of online ratings, most companies have been encountering fake reviews. This can hurt your company, especially if you are a new or a small business. So, how do you spot fake Google reviews? And how do you remove them? This article explores all of that.

fake online reviews

How much do reviews matter?

 

Think about the last time you bought something. Did you consult the customer reviews first? Most probably, yes. Consumers want reliability; they want to invest their money in something that other people trust, even if they are strangers on the internet.

Naturally, if there are any negative fake reviews against your business, potential customers can make decisions based on them. One convincing fake review can be enough to damage your enterprise. If you own a small business, it’s even worse.

Google reviews hardly need any verification processes. Anyone can post a review as long as they have an account. This has resulted in a surge of fake Google reviews, either from competitors trying to slander your reputation or from trolls who, well, just want to troll.

Either way, such bad players can damage the reputation of your brand, which is why it’s essential to know how to spot fake reviews.

 

How to spot a fake review?

 

There isn’t one foolproof way to spot fake Google reviews. However, there are certain trends these reviews tend to follow. We can focus on these trends to find the bad apples in the basket.

 

Check the Name

Always crosscheck the name of the reviewer with your customer base. Of course, you will find some reviewers with clearly fake user names or IDs – that’s a glowing red flag. If you cannot find the person in your customer base, you know it’s most probably a fake one; and then you can take the following essential steps.

 

Check Other Reviews

These reviewers often open fake accounts simply for the sake of posting a fake review. Hence, after the first step, your next best option would be to look for any other reviews this person might have posted. There are three broad things you may come across:

  • They have posted similar negative reviews for other companies as well. In that case, they are probably a troll.
  • They have only posted a negative review for your product, but seem to be overtly (emphasis on “overtly”) appreciative of some other competitive brand. This certainly looks dicey and you would need to look into the matter more.
  • They have other reviews, but those seem genuine. This can be because of several reasons. The review might be genuine, and in that case and you can look into the criticism more carefully. Or perhaps they simply posted it for the wrong company – a rare scenario, but it happens. You can post a reply asking further questions if this happens.

 

Notice the content, tone and language used

As overcompensation for lies, fake Google reviews might use very simplistic and generic language, lots of exclamation marks, or mention information completely irrelevant to the product.

product-review-4

They might also be making entirely false accusations- let’s say about the material or a specific function of the product. If such accusations seem outright impossible, you will need to take steps to try to remove them.

Do they have a picture attached to their comment? Then it might be real. If they don’t have images on your review, but on others, it simply might be a biased customer or a competitor. You can further examine the content of the review again to get a clearer idea.

 

Empty Ratings

One-star ratings with no comments attached neither help you understand what went wrong nor help other customers get a clear idea. These might certainly be genuine since people can be too busy to really comment on anything. This is why it isn’t ideal to flag every single empty rating.

So, in order to give them the benefit of the doubt, you can crosscheck the name, and if it’s not there in your customer history, you can flag it. You may also ask them what went wrong in a reply, but if they don’t have time to post a comment, they probably won’t check your reply.

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How to remove fake Google reviews?

 

Google does not give you the option for deleting reviews for the obvious reason that companies might simply be deleting legitimate criticism. But there are steps you can take to remove a fake review.

Firstly, you can flag the review as inappropriate. Check out Google’s review policy to see if the review violates any of the rules mentioned. Some of the things Google’s policy does not allow any reviewer to write are as follows:

  • Fake reviews (A broad category)
  • Reviews that are intended to manipulate your Google star rating (Empty ratings might qualify for this one)
  • Irrelevant or “off-topic” reviews
  • Reviews that contain promotional content or links
  • Reviews with offensive language intended to bully or harass anyone
  • Reviews written by competitors, current or former employees or yourself (the last one qualifies as “conflict of interest” as well as the others)

Find out which one this specific review violates and then you can report it using the following steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business account.
  2. Click on “reviews” from the left bar (for desktops), or find the “customers” tab and then click on the “reviews” option
  3. Pick the review you want to report and click on the three-button icon on the side.
  4. Select “flag as inappropriate”.
  5. If you do not get any response from Google within a few days, try contacting Google through the “support” option available on your account.
  6. Respond to the review.

It might take a while for Google to respond to your support request; so what do you do with the fake review during that time? As we have already mentioned, responding to these reviews would be the prudent thing to do. A professional, straightforward but polite reply can show your customers that you actually care.

Besides, responding quickly to any negative feedback is good for any business. It helps you improve your product and hence your business as a whole. This makes your platform reliable for users. It is also a good, if not perfect, way of judging whether a review is real. It deters fake reviews since they would hardly have any reply ready.

How to Spot (& Remove) Fake Google Reviews-2

Summing Up

Some fake reviews do not get flagged even after several tries. That’s okay, even though it certainly feels unfair. As long as you are responding to negative criticism in general- perhaps to correct the mistakes or improve your business model- customers will notice that. And, fake Google reviews cannot win a battle against good customer service.

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