Reviews play a big part when it comes to shaping consumers’ decisions. Positive reviews are social proof for customer trust and the reputation of the business. These reviews can convert into clicks to websites, leads, and a boost in search rankings. Recent surveys go as far to suggest that over 90% of adults under 35 trust online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations.
In short, reviews matter. Almost half of consumers won’t even consider using a company with poor reviews. Unfortunately, the power of reviews has so much pull these days that there are people out there who will manipulate reviews for their own benefit. While the fake review industry has been under careful watch, fake reviews still make it through from time to time.
Yelp is one of many online review platforms. One year ago, they began aggressively targeting any businesses that seemed to have suspicious reviews. They have since reported that they’ve placed consumer alerts on nearly 250 businesses for engaging in what they deem to be “questionable review practices.”
Many business owners don’t realize this, but asking your customers for Yelp reviews is a violation of Yelp’s Terms of Service. You should, under no circumstances, ask your customers to review your business on Yelp.
Yelp’s review ghost algorithm is extremely good at finding reviews that say or imply that the business asked the customer to leave a review. When they find these, they filter them out or place them in the “not recommended” area.
As long as you’re honorable when it comes to your reviews and not probing customers for Yelp reviews, you don’t have anything to worry about with this process. However, occasionally fake reviews to make it through the algorithm. These fake reviews can really damage your business by either saying things that aren’t true about your company, or artificially inflating the rankings of another.
Despite Yelp’s best efforts, nothing is fool proof. But here are some tips for spotting fake reviews on Yelp:
Take a look at the reviewer’s profile. If the picture doesn’t seem genuine you can do a reverse image search on Google with the profile picture. Fake review profiles often use stock profile photos. So, if you see a number of other sources for the same picture, chances are it’s a fake review profile.
On Yelp, you’re not only able to click on the user’s profile picture, but you can also see which other businesses that profile has reviewed. This can give a clue as to if a profile may be fake. Typically, suspicious review activity falls into one of these two categories:
For example, if one profile reviews six plumbers in four different states then it’s probably a fake profile engaging in fraudulent reviews. If you see several reviewers leaving reviews for the same handful of businesses, then that’s also a sign of fake reviews.
Sometimes reviews are accompanied by a photo, uploaded by the user. If the reviews are fake, then there’s a good chance you’ll see stock photos in this area as well. A quick reverse image search will confirm any suspicions. If a user does use a stock photo then Yelp will either remove that review or move it into the “not recommended” area. However, no algorithm is perfect.
We suggest really investigating reviews for home remodeling companies as these businesses in particular seem to be littered with fake reviews.
Consumers, now more than ever, are really digging into reviews on platforms like Yelp. Many businesses try to game the system by taking every advantage they can over a competitor. However, when it comes down to it, these fake reviews are doing more harm than good for everyone.
The best thing a business can do to fight fake reviews is provide an excellent product or service along with superior customer service. These things are likely to result in positive reviews that weigh much more heavily than any fake review can.
Customers read 10 reviews on average before they make a decision. It’s important for consumers to be aware of what’s really happening with reviews. It’s also important for business owners to be diligent when it comes to following the terms and conditions for various review sites. And finally, everyone needs to know how to spot a fake Yelp review so they can report it.