As a consumer review website Judy’s Book is an influencer of consumer decisions. Like Yelp, Citysearch, Angie’s List and most other review sites we have our share of businesses and other 3rd parties trying to game the system either to make themselves look good or a competitor look bad. We take authenticity very seriously and have implemented numerous processes and code features to prevent, identify, and remove fake reviews. While we don’t share most of our methods for identifying spam and fake reviews, we do think some basic hints for identifying a fake deserve a warning and will help our consumers, not only on Judy’s Book, but other review sites also.
Here are our top 5 tips for identifying a fake review:
- Paying a subscription service does not guarantee authenticity of a recommendation or review. Some contractors will pay people to create memberships on sites like Angie’s List to write rave reviews. Just because you’ve paid a membership fee isn’t a guarantee of authenticity.
- The most trusted reviews and recommendations come from people you know or someone they know. Use the social features on sites that integrate into and have sharing tools with social networks like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. See our earlier blog post on levels of trust in reviews.
- Look at trends and volume of reviews then compare to how many bad ones there are (1 or 2 stars out of 5 with 5 being the best). Many times a business will post 1 or 2 fake reviews on themselves, and then have friends or family do the same. While it’s normal for great places to have some bad reviews (you can’t please everyone and the customer isn’t always right) the worst places will have many with the same theme. On a 5 star scale a higher percentage of real reviews will be 2, 3, and 4 star reviews. Look at the three samples can you tell the business with the most reliable reviews?
- Look at the profile of the person submitting the review. Are they anonymous? If not do they live in the same city as the local establishment? Do they have an image loaded to their profile? The more info a reviewer is willing to upload the more trusted they become. Spammers tend to go for quantity over quality.
- A telltale sign is the same user posting multiple reviews on the same business? Many times in the same day or week. Has the reviewer written a review on just this business or others with different categories? Authentic reviewers tend to write multiple reviews across many categories over time and they usually don’t review the same place twice unless their 2nd experience is drastically different.