Fighting Review Spam
Whether you are a small, large or global business, your customers can provide their feedback or review online for the whole world to see. It is important to be proactive about your online reputation as it can help you stand out from your competitors.
It is encouraged that your customers leave reviews not only for your online reputation but it can help you from the occasional negative review. These days with the online presence being very competitive you may find yourself a victim of review spam.
Have you been a victim to it?
What Is Review Spam?
Review spam is a false review that misrepresents either the relationship between the reviewer and the business, breaks a review guideline or misrepresents the interaction the reviewer encountered with the business.
- The reviewer could be a potential competitor and is leaving a review which could harm a competitor.
- The reviewer could be the owner, employee or from the marketing department of the business he/she is reviewing. This fictitious positive review is there to manipulate the public opinion.
- The reviewer has an incentive to make the review, gift, monetary etc. As this is he/she is receiving a reward for the review then this is biased.
- The review platforms that are available have guidelines that need to be met. If the reviewer has violated any of these in the form of hate speech, advertising or a personal attack then these are deemed spam.
- If the reviewer is pretending to have transacted with the business he’s reviewing then he is falsifying the review in order to hurt/help the business.
If any reviews that have been received which match any of the above then these are forbidden on the review platforms. Then these should result in being removed or reported.
What If It Isn’t Review Spam?
If you have received a review then these should help you to understand whether it is a genuine review.
- It has been written in accordance with the review platform’s policy.
- It has been written by a genuine customer who has experienced a transaction with the business/service
- If the review has been factional stating a reasonable transaction with accuracy.
However, you may encounter some negative reviews that may be accurate and these shouldn’t be seen as spam. For instance you the customer may have left their review mentioning that the food was cold or the restaurant wasn’t clean. So, if the customer is categorising his review correctly then the review is not a misrepresentation.
Also, if the reviewer has deliberately misrepresented the facts and the business in question can prove this, it is unlikely that the review will be marked as spam.
What Can I Do About Review Spam?
When a reviewer writes these spam reviews they can be unpleasant and some may do this because of blackmail, revenge, protest, ranking manipulation, manipulating public perception, wages, lack of awareness etc.
To spot these here are some tips:
- Strange Patterns – check the reviewers profile, have they been in many locations and have a habit or leaving bad reviews.
- Language Used – has the reviewer used the business owner by name which seems to be going overboard on the context
- Timing – has a business’s reviews all of a sudden increased from 10 – 50 reviews
- Facts – can anyone recall the transaction matching the review? Did it happen? Has it been presented as false?
If you believe you have been a victim of review spam the there is a way to deal with it.
Check the guidelines of the review platform and if the review has violated these then report it to the platform on which it was made.
Most of these do offer an option to mark or flag it as inappropriate and you can use that to contact the platform for investigation.