Interesting Facts I Bet You Never Knew About WRITE ONLINE REVIEW
Cracking The “WRITE ONLINE REVIEW” Code
When you review products and having people engage with them, you create more trust with your readers. You review products you know to be useful to your potential customers and it’s clear from your review that you know what you’re talking about.
Remember in my other post “What Is a Fake Review, and Why Should You Care?” I mentioned that reading reviews online is one of the final stages of the purchase path. Once readers get that far, they are on the path of becoming a customer.
So product review content pages on your site can be especially profitable if you’re an affiliate of those products. You’re just one step away from earning a commission.
Real reviews are valuable because the author knows the niche and the competing products well. With your final fair conclusion of the review, you help your audience make the best possible buying decision, which should be your main purpose.
So What Exactly Is a Real Review?
A Real Review is not a sales speech. It’s not written primarily to make money. The primary objective of writing a review is to help your audience make the right choice and for that, you have to earn their trust. You write honest reviews about affiliate products that you’re promoting on your own site.
A Real Review gives your audience the sense that you know and use the product. A fake review can’t do that. You must be confident. As an affiliate your review most be honest, you must be impartial but the reader needs to feel the real experience, so you can earn their trust. Don’t review a product that you are not confident with.
How To Create A Product Review:
Understanding how to construct product reviews is a very important part of your business. People are spending millions of dollars online and are researching products or services before they buy them.
You can take advantage of this as an affiliate marketer and with every product or service that you promote on your website, you should be doing so through a review style page/post.
Click below to watch the video
According to the Federal Trade Commission guidelines, when you review a product from which you might make a commission, you must disclose that you are an affiliate and that you earn a commission when someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase.
Remember this: You will get more trust by being transparent.
Should a Review Aim to Convince?
I am sure that you know the answer to that, but just in case, the answer is” NO”
If you research how to write a good online review and you stumble on this headline: “How to Write Convincing Reviews” don’t waste your time as the word “convincing” usually stands for “fake“.
Keep It Real
Remember: Keep this in mind: When writing a review, you want to represent the prospective buyer’s best interest! If you don’t and put money ahead of the customer, you will set yourself for failure!
Your Reviews should not be “convincing.” You have to keep it real. They should be completely honest and based on your user experience, without any agenda behind it!
Ideally, your review should include your personal experience of the product under review.
The FTC’s position is clear:
[stextbox id=’grey’]…the Endorsement Guides let endorsers know that they shouldn’t talk about their experience with a product if they haven’t tried it, or make claims about a product that would require proof they don’t have (1)[/stextbox]
But What About When It Is Not Possible?
If your business is a travel site, you have to agree with me that unlikely you’ll be able to stay in all the best hotels in Quebec, Canada for instance!
So how do you write an honest review without checking in the hotels? The answer is: Consider researching the best reviews and any other information you can find about those places. It should be easy now since we went over in my other article “Spot Fake Reviews“. Then, put all your findings together into your own original coverage of the hotels.
You will have to do good quality research. It will take time. Then take your findings and add a thought, delivered in a format and voice that makes it uniquely yours.
How can I do that?
Easy: By using Sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor. You take all the reviews, I mean ALL of them, positive and negative. Look for common complaints, what do people love, who do the reviewers say this hotel is best suited to?
Are there reviews on YouTube? What do they say?
ReviewSkeptic is an online tool dealing specifically with hotel reviews.
Hotel Review – Lack of detail: Look out for false hotel reviews. A vague review of hotels should be a red flag right there. The reviewer cannot be specific as they had never been there! So they’d talk instead of the reason they were there. “Spent a wonderful weekend here with the family”; “will always use this hotel for future business trips” are the kinds of things you’re looking for. Look for the word “Verified” on the hotel review.
Write a review that focuses on the site visitor and how you think it would benefit them. Make it clear in your review that it’s not based on experience but reflects accurate, thrill research of “expert” opinions.
Detail what that means. Add, of course, that it has been supplemented by your own conclusions based on all those hours of research.
It’s always better, though, to be able to build true user experience or hands-on testing into your review but when you cannot like on-site like travel you have to another alternative than using the other approach.
I hope this helps you with any questions you might have about writing an online “Review”. For any questions or comments please use the below comment box!
Spot Fake Review An Incredibly Easy Method That Works For All
Have You Ever Wonder How To Spot Fake Reviews?
Spot ’em — Fake Product Reviews
The bad news is that we are lousy at identifying deceptive reviews. Take a look at this article from Cornell University.
In a previous post we saw how companies like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp depend on hundreds of thousands of consumer reviews that collectively point you to “the best of whatever.”
There are honest reviews as well as fake ones, of course. But there’s no central body of authority to rely on when it comes to affiliate marketing, no single agency to tell you who’s good and who’s bad.
In order for sites that rely on reviews to retain their credibility, many have started making efforts to crack down on paid for and fake reviews. ~ USA Today
Do “due diligence” for yourself!
Here are some pointers to watch out for to help you detect false reviews:
1. Fight technology with technology: You know the old saying: “It takes one to know one”? A good way to know whether a review is computer-generated is to a computer program.
Fakespot is an online tool that helps you work out which are the trustworthy reviews and which are not on both Amazon and Yelp. All you have to do is to paste a review’s URL into Fakespot’s search engine and wait for the result! It is fascinating!!!
This random example, which scored 4.5 stars on Amazon, was adjusted to 1 after analysis.
Fake Amazon Reviews
It may not always be totally accurate, but it’s a good place to start.
ReviewSkeptic is another online tool dealing specifically with hotel reviews. It is based on research at Cornell University that uses machine learning to identify fake hotel reviews with nearly 90% accuracy.
2. Check the reviewer’s profile:
If you are familiar with review, you know that most sites ask you to register an account before leaving a review. Click on the username to see past reviews. Real people will most likely buy a lot of products from Amazon or other companies. Therefore, you should be able to see more reviews from them
Look at their patterns — is this person only reviewing one type of product or one company? Is she leaving only very positive — or negative — feedback?
You also have paid reviews. What I mean by that is that the reviewer receives the free product in return for a review. This does not mean that it is a fake review, but it may be biased.
In that particular situation, the law requires the reviewer to report the product as a “gift”. If you don’t see it, don’t be scared to ask in the comment, that will help a lot of people. No answer? Then you have your answer. Stay away!
Now if your comment gets deleted, report that in RipOff Report. Don’t accuse the reviewer but you can say that “I asked this reviewer of ABC Product whether they were an affiliate or otherwise receiving compensation for reviews. They deleted my question, twice. I wasn’t nasty or insulting – the review just didn’t feel right to me, so I asked. The deletion, in my opinion, speaks louder than the review.
4. Review Quality:
You have reviews that individuals are getting paid to write them. Those reviews will be short and non-specific. The goal here is to bump the item into the 5 stars as quickly as possible by posting as many “excellent” reviews as possible. So the author needs to be able to copy and paste a large number in a short time.
Here is a hint: Look for words like “great product,” “wonderful service” or “can’t be beaten.”
5. Hotel Review – Lack of detail:
Look out for a false hotel review. A vague review of hotels should be a red flag right there. The reviewer cannot be specific as they had never been there! So they’d talk instead of the reason they were there. “Spent a wonderful weekend here with the family”; “will always use this hotel for future business trips” are the kinds of things you’re looking for. Look for the word “Verified” on the hotel review.
ReviewSkeptic is an online tool dealing specifically with hotel reviews. It is based on research at Cornell University that uses machine learning to identify fake hotel reviews with nearly 90% accuracy.
6. Lack of experience:
A reviewer that has never had an item. will review it more like a product manual than real-life experience. On Amazon, look for reviews marked “Verified Purchase” for reviews by people who have bought the product.
7. Use of language:
Some companies will provide templates for their “reviewers” for quick copy and pasting. Look for the same or similar words or phrases, that should be a red flag for you!
Watch for over-the-top words, too: “best thing ever!” and equally “worst thing ever!” without any explanation is most likely fake.
8. Blinding with science:
Fake reviews for health products will often use a long list of “scientific facts.”
9. Is the review “all or nothing”?:
Fake reviews tend to be either 1 star, or 5. There’s rarely an in-between. Make sure you check reviews at 2, 3, and 4 stars too — real reviews tend to be more moderate.
Spot ’em — Fake Trade Reviews
Moving into a different sector, if a product or service is not from a provider you already know and trust, you will need to conduct additional due diligence before even looking at the product itself.
“Making Money,” along with pain, illness, weight loss, diet, and some other categories are where you’ll find vulnerable consumers, and that’s where you’ll also find the most dishonest affiliates. The worst view of these consumers as “suckers,” nothing more.
These types of people used to take advantage of people through direct mail, offline.
They have turned to the dark side of affiliate marketing to make a buck at the “sucker’s” expense.
Here are some pointers:
Research the trader:
Don’t rush into buying a product because it sounds good. Take time to investigate the company first.
[stextbox id=’alert’]Fake Reviews like fake news are not good! In this post, you will find out different ways to Stop Fake Reviews. Your online business is your future and you must protect it![/stextbox]
How To Stop Fake Reviews: “Stop ’em — It’s Up to Us All to Fix This”
If your guard is up, you’ll be able to follow these self-protection plans before you pull out your wallet.
But now, I’d like you to adopt a frame of mind. Remember, we’re talking about fraud artists who are out to make money by tricking you out of yours! So I’d like you to…
Get Mad as Hell!
[stextbox id=’black’]We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy… Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad… I want you to get up and go to the window and open it and stick your head out and yell… I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore. Peter Finch, in “Network,” 1976[/stextbox]
Now that we have that off our chest, let’s look at what we can do, practically, to stop this despicable practice.
Stop ’em — Relying on the Law
Anyone can be targeted by a scammer… by reporting scams we can all play an important part in protecting ourselves and others from falling victim.Advertising Standards Authority, UK
Fake reviews are illegal. Across the world, they’re subject to misleading advertising law.
America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing rules against posting fake reviews. Dan Warner of Kelly-Warner Defamation Law Attorneys says this:
“The FTC’s mission is to rid the marketplace of “unfair and deceptive marketing” — and it has the authority to both fine and shut down operations.”(1)
So when we spot them we can expect the law to protect us, right?
This is a complex issue. For individuals and small businesses, solving it via legislation is not always easy. (For large businesses, it’s a bit easier. Amazon has recently begun to sue over one thousand people for writing fake reviews(2).)
But it’s certainly a place to start. If we don’t each play our part in alerting authorities to the problem, we are avoiding playing our part in a solution.
What You Can Do
If you come across a review you believe to be fake, let your national authorities know. Report illegal practices at…
We’d love to see a powerful message sent by a judge who throws in a good punitive amount of compensation for victims who lose money, time (opportunity cost), goals, dreams, and self-esteem (those last 3 are “pain and suffering).
But there are other good opportunities for extinguishing fake reviews.
Stop ’em with Google
Google has recently launched an initiative called “Verified Customer Reviews” to protect the credibility of its various merchant services. So it has taken steps to manage fake reviews in its own merchant properties — but it has a much bigger problem with its search algorithm.
Google does not band-aid a solution. You may remember Googlebombs — high rankings organized by massive inbound linking programs. Some were publicly embarrassing for Google (and its victims!), but ultimately they solved it by getting better, not by specifically recognizing and detecting that one scenario.
We’ve seen it, too, with Panda and Penguin. Google released fixes for low-quality content and rank manipulating only when many businesses, big and small, had almost overwhelmed it with a flood of no-value, mostly regurgitated “content for content’s sake” and conniving link-based strategies.
In each case, Google only moved when the problem impacted the quality of a large enough number of search results to make a perceptible difference.
Fake reviews feel like specialized, long-tail pap that Panda should be spotting. Worse than no-value, fake reviews are of negative value. They lead consumers to make wrong choices.
That raises the obvious question…
When is Google going to worry about the huge problem of fake reviews, written by affiliates, that rank highly in the SERPs?
Although widespread, it may not yet occupy a high enough percent of Google searches to make it a priority. It’s a serious failure that enables malicious players to use fake reviews profitably.
If Google closes this door by penalizing fake reviews, the practice will stop — because it will stop being profitable.
Why Does Google Search Not Prioritize This?
There’s little blowback from searchers. Consider this…
Few victims of fake affiliate reviews think back far enough to realize that it was Google that ranked fake reviews to the top. By the time they realize that a product is nowhere near as good as the fake review suggests, it’s too late.
The more people who meticulously report fake reviews by those who either promote them or fail to discipline their affiliates for the widespread practice, the more likely that Google picks up on both volume and patterns of a problem.
What You Can Do
When you find a fake review, let Google know.
At the bottom of the search page, click on the “Send feedback” link…
This opens the “Send feedback” window.
Enter the text that explains the fake review you have discovered (text in the example below starts with “The following results…”).
The example explains the search, and has…
copy-and-pasted the 3 URLs of the fake reviews
added an attachment of 2 of the 3 results, using a simple screenshot tool that appears when you leave “Included screenshot’ checked.
These companies should take note. Just as Panda cleaned out content abuse and Penguin greatly reduced black hat manipulative practices (largely link abuse), the time for fake reviews is coming. Google’s business depends on delivering the best content that meets the search intent of each query. Theirs is the worst of all content.
Stop ’em With Real Evidence of Success
[stextbox id=’grey’]As entrepreneurs and business professionals, we go to great sacrifice to reach the dream of success. The power of the internet can quickly become a nightmare, if you are not prepared… In the case of online reputation management, the best defense is truly a great offense.Blog e-Endorsements: Fake Malicious Reviews[/stextbox]
If you have a product that’s being victimized by fake affiliates, now is the time to fight back. Here, our experience can certainly point a way forward.
We dealt with the fake reviews attack in three separate ways.
We replaced opinion with the fact by creating a head-to-head study of our company vs. the affiliate company targeting us.
This, of course, results in fallout. Some attack us for attacking them (our scientific study becomes “the attack” despite their instigating “fake reviews”). Others offer weak arguments like “I don’t believe in statistics” or stick with “It’s just my opinion and I have a right to it.”
All are marked by the desperate nature of weak replies. That’s because there is no good answer to the truth. The fact is that it’s against the law to mislead a customer into reading a fake review that leads to a different product for profit.
How Does This Relate to Your Business?
If you have the opportunity to perform a study, or otherwise have raw facts that prove that fake reviews are flat-out bad, use them as widely possible.
Don’t debate on the fake site’s pages. That simply creates more content for them, which helps their ranking.
Providing domain names
Some companies will say they don’t, even in their own forums, because they don’t want competition between their “customers.”
That would be a sad answer if it weren’t so laughable. The domain names who are logged into forums are available for all other users to see. Those folks are there to do business. They’re interested in each other’s sites as examples. They have their own sites, based on their own passions. They aren’t looking to start a business about a niche that they don’t know.
Make sure you provide real proof of success. Include domain names.
Make sure you have reviews of your own business by those people who genuinely use it.
These reviews stand out as genuine. The voice and nature of the content help them stand out from “scammy,” fake reviews.
Consider, too, creating a simple page that explains your whole fake review situation.
The Future’s Looking Sweet
Are you still feeling “mad as hell”?
Or has arming yourself with information about how to spot and stop fake reviews made life that much sweeter?
It’s time to take action, always remembering that other great adage…
Don’t Get Mad — Get Even
Legitimate companies large and small build trust in their brand by providing consumers with quality merchandise and services. It’s honest, hard work that often takes years to pay off. Online attraction marketers poach others’ brand equity to promote their own business model. It’s a manipulative scheme that only takes seconds to set up. (Idaho Business: “Fake Review Scams”)
We live in a unique window in time where the typical person can, at almost zero expense compared to offline business, start something that generates both profit and business equity.
There has been a leveling off of the total number of sites (Netcraft’s web survey). The number has been approximately 170,000,000 active sites since late-2011.
Let’s summarize the actions every one of us can take when we come across a review — of any kind — that’s fake.
Keep it real.
Overdeliver to your audience. You may make less now, but you’ll do best in the long run.
Insist on proof of success — loads of it — and walk if there is none.
Report fake reviews to Google and regulatory authorities.
Producers of products
If you use affiliate marketing, keep it clean. Monitor and discipline.
If you’re a victim of fake reviews, fight back with your own marketing. Investigate legal alternatives.
If affiliates of a competitive product claim it’s better, prove otherwise if possible. Your study may be shockingly superior because those with winning products don’t need to stoop to sell.
And finally, if you remember nothing else, remember one of the best pieces of advice about investing money in any product:
If it sounds too good to be true — it probably is.
What is “Fake Reviews” and Why Should You be concerned?
I am sure you saw products, eBooks, etc with a lot of sparkling reviews so you can buy them. Then you find out after buying them that it is far from what the review what saying: eBooks have misspelled words, products do not do what the review said it would, and so on.
What does it tell you? Yep, I think you were a victim of fake reviews! Do you see now where I am coming from with “What are Fake Reviews?”
Let’s find out more about What is “Fake Reviews”
They’re reviews that make incorrect statements likely create a false impression for consumers to purchase their goods.
Those Reviews are false even if they seem to be truthful. They are created with only one thing in mind “SALE”, not the consumer.
What you see online is a mixture of both positive and negative fake reviews. Confusing right?
Let me explain this to you….
“Fake Positive Reviews” are boosting an image that is nowhere close to reality. But Carole, why is that? It is to influence the consumer to buy their goods! They make it like you got to buy this!!!! At this point, you really want to buy it! They will do anything for a sale even criticize the competitor same product!
Additionally, when businesses have more positive reviews they rank higher with many search engines. Also, more positive reviews can help offset negative reviews.
Another dishonest reason for Positive Fake Reviews is to blemish the brand reputation of a competitor. By faking that they were a previous customer of a competitor, the review appears more truthful.
“Fake Negative Reviews” are like they will destroy a person’s image or business reputation. Example of Fake Negative Review on a business: “Don’t go to that restaurant I went and I saw bugs crawling and the taste of the food was so disgusting that I got sick'”. Here is a Fake Negative Review on a person: “Warning guys do not go see that therapist or you will be sorry you ever did, she ruined my life”.
For a while, Fake Negative Reviews were often thought to be left by a competitor trying to turn away people from similar products or business but a new study from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Northwestern University says that’s not usually the case.
In conclusion, positive or negative fake reviews are fictive.
Why Are Consumer Real Reviews So Important?
[stextbox id=’info’]A positive reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a business has to convince new customers to contact them. The social proof contained within reviews and star ratings helps consumers short cut their research and make decisions faster and with greater confidence than ever before. – Bright Local, Consumer Review Survey 2016[/stextbox]
According to Bright Local Consumer Review Survey again, reading reviews has been called: “One of the final stages of the purchase path.”(1)
And why would you say that? Because when customers research a product for review, at this point they are in need of that product or service. They will look at reviews for positive comments before engaging themselves to purchase. By doing so they are making sure they are choosing the best product to match their need and the best merchant to purchase from.
In conclusion, positive and negative, fake, and real reviews will have an impact on the final purchase.
According to FTC over 70% of customers rely on Online recommendations before buying. A 2016 survey reveals that as many as 84% purchasers rely on the online recommendation the same way they would trust a good friend! This is 4% increase from 2015.
But why Writing a Fake Review??
You are a waiter at a well-known restaurant and you got fired. You’re very upset wondering how will you ever find another job? So to get even with your employer for letting you go, you write a negative fake review online under a fictitious name of course.
Your coffee shop is not doing too well compared to your competitor right around the corner. You never step foot there but you can see the customers are lining up every day. You are thinking “Well he is taking business away from me I will fix that”. You go online and write a review saying I will never go back again to this place, the coffee taste burns, seems it has been brewing all day, not fresh at all and let me tell you about their baristas, so rude I don’t even know why they are still in business!
You’re asked to write a review of a certain product after using it. You get lazy and do not bother to try the product, you go online and start reading a couple of reviews about the product. Without even verifying the truth about those reviews you go ahead and write a review based on the reviews you read and repeat their misleading information.
But the main reason for all those fake reviews is “Financial Gain”
We just spoke of WHY writing fake reviews now let’s talk about HOW:
Some people get hired to write reviews for money
Individuals working for a company: They are acting as proxies meaning that they are employees of the company and they write reviews for them without disclosing their real identity by changing their IP. If you do a Google search you have people showing you exactly how to do that!
Affiliate Marketers. People that will earn a commission if a visitor buys the item or service that they are reviewing. These reviews are often just a speech sale without even knowing the product because of the commission they are earning if a sale is made. Normally the Affiliate marketer has a lot more knowledge of the product than the prospective buyers. Here is a quote from an article:
[stextbox id=’black’]”If you’re researching pretty much any internet marketing training product, odds are you can find a TON of fake positive reviews for it. If you search pretty much any keyword, you find videos and pages upon pages of search results ranting and raving about how wonderful it is — even for the worst products you’ve purchased in your life.”[/stextbox]
Fake Reviews are Far More Pervasive Than We Realize.
Here are the 2 most deceiving one:
Fake Reviews: Platforms
Here some examples that I am sure you are very familiar with: Review sites for Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Glass Door
Millions of people are posting reviews on them.
Consumers rely on these platforms for almost all their purchase decision. If you put aside the fake reviews, they can be very helpful. You can find anything from the best luxury hotel in Ottawa capital national of Canada to an eye doctor in Cape Coral, Florida.
Sadly those Review Platform can be disrupted by fake reviews that either promote or attempt to blacken their reputation.
With those Platforms purchaser’s bad experience can destroy their credibility very quickly.
Fake Reviews: Individual
Individual Reviews can be worthy. A review written by a reliable business can also spread the entire product experience in a single, deep, expert article.
The sharp online business does not “sell out,” writing an enthusiastic review about a poor product, because they know it’s better for the business to think long-term.
Here is an example: It would be a very bad tactic to write a strong review that recommends a poor villa in Florida, run by a moody owner who is ready to pay a lot of money to recommend it.
This is a perfect example to show you short term gain. Yes, that is good but you want to think long-term gain. If those stories end up to TripAdvisor their reputation is going to be affected.
Sadly, there are people, companies, businesses that think only about making a quick gain and take rejoice to ruin other people’s life.
The key here is to maintain a long term trustworthy niche content.
This is taking us to…
Fake Reviews: Affiliate Schemes
Negative Marketing: It is a company that writes negative review attacking directly a competitor. Normally a consumer disapproves of that.
Some companies will get around but encouraging their affiliate to write reviews on products or other affiliate companies.
Here’s how it works:
A company will persuade their affiliates that their company is by far the best of its kind.
They will motivate their affiliates to write a review of a product from a company competitor even if the affiliate has no knowledge of the product (What does it tell you…see where I am coming from with this).
Then they make sure their affiliates understand that their review needs to end with a recommendation from their company’s product even if the review is positive or not…Here again, it is all about financial gain not about honesty!
If the affiliate review on the competitor product is based on a truth actual usage that reflects a detailed review of the product, if you can back up your review with evidence and if – the affiliate offers the prospective buyer with an honest review; and if the affiliate discloses the affiliation with the company and at the same time informing them that he/she is getting a commission from selling the company‘s product, there’s no problem.
The affiliate wins appreciation by referring the visitor to a superior product and that makes everyone happy.
But if the competitor’s product has never been tried, if you don’t have any evidence to prove the product superiority, and if the company affiliate does not disclose to the buyer that he/she is selling an affiliate product and earns commission from the sale, then it is considered FAKE.
Why is that?
Because there is no evidence of superiority established. Therefore the review is clearly for financial gain. The buyer has been misleading and most likely purchased an inferior product that will not match their needs.
Legislation on this is clear. The purchaser is entitled to an honest review.
Let’s look at how this works at a practical level.
Angela, who is searching for a reputable counselor following a distressing assault, has heard of “Saintly Counselling”, so searches for “Saintly Counselling reviews.”
She finds multiple fake negative reviews, written by affiliates for “Devil May Care Counselling” who get paid for every client they introduce.
She doesn’t know they’re fake. It wasn’t completely obvious: one said “Saintly” destroyed her life forever, one said it was “Meh” and one said it had some good points.
Each of them ended their review with a recommendation for “Devil May Care,” calling it the most effective counseling in the world — even though they had never experienced it.
Angela clicks on the affiliate link and books an appointment with “Devil May Care.”
“Devil May Care” gets the counseling fee, of which they give a percentage to the affiliate on whose link Angela clicked through.
Of course, some part of each review is fake, but the biggest fake point is the recommendation of “Devils”‘s superiority.
In all cases, the company and the affiliate, with the complicity of the company, gain financially at the consumer’s expense.
But there’s more to it than that, even. Because Angela is not only defrauded, she may also suffer immense hardship. Poor counseling can lead to catastrophic damage.
The same principle applies to any product, even though it may not have the same ruinous results. But picking the wrong dentist may result in an expensive, incompetent root canal that you didn’t need; selecting a bad hotel will ruin your vacation.
Grey Areas: Are Reviews of Reviews Fake?
The European Parliamentary Research Service defines the content of fake reviews as follows…
A fake review can be defined as a positive, neutral or negative review that is not an actual consumer’s honest and impartial opinion or that does not reflect a consumer’s genuine experience of a product, service or business.
It may be difficult or impossible to experience some products before writing a review recommending them. If your niche is the island of Sicily, for example, it won’t be possible for you to stay in every hotel on the island (unless you’re very lucky and very rich!).
Such subjects require credible research of objective data and wide coverage of the subjective experience of others. Original research such as a survey, if properly conducted, adds to the value of such coverage.
This type of “review” should present as balanced a picture as possible.
A review not based on personal experience, even when carefully researched, crosses into a “grey” area. The key to whether it’s a fake review or not is intent.
When performed rigorously and in a balanced way that honestly tries to reflect the truth, this type of “review” can be valuable to the reader.
But if it has an agenda to mislead, it would be considered a “fake review” for the purposes of this article.
The review should clearly identify that it is based only on research, that you have not personally used the product in the manner that a typical consumer would.
Included in this kind of “researched review” is the “review of reviews” category. Here too, the onus is on the author to thoroughly assess each review for accuracy and to present a balanced picture.
This type of review becomes “fake” if it…
is passed off as personal experience
knowingly includes fake reviews (or if it should have known)
intentionally fails to be a thorough and objective reflection of the user experience
indulges in practices such as seeking out others who have had a negative experience. A few angry ex-customers (or ex-employees) can unite to create a powerful, but inaccurate picture that fails accurately to represent the views of the much larger general user base.
Fake Reviews Are Neither Fair nor Just…
Readers who find a review via an online search are entitled to expect an accurate reflection of a user’s experience, written by that user. In a perfect world, a true review would accurately and fully fulfill that search intent.
But fake reviews are not, in fact, reviews. They are actually sales pages disguised as reviews.
If you sense that this borderline on fraud, so does Amazon which has suffered from fake reviews for several years:
Since the beginning of 2015, the company has filed lawsuits against more than 1,000 people in relation to this issue, taking on both those who offer to sell fake reviews as well as those who buy them.(5)
“International collaboration is increasingly important for enforcement agencies combating deceptive practices online.” (6)
Following the FTC’s lead, it’s very likely that more class-action by other, smaller companies will follow.
Fake reviews can be a short-term, high-yield strategy. But they are potentially illegal and morally reprehensible.
Where large amounts of money are to be gained or lost, fraud will almost inevitably follow.
And since reviews of a product are the closest thing to purchase intent, it is for some the opportunistic vehicle of choice to rank high at search engines and, using deceptive methods, alter choice for the consumer.
Teams of well-trained affiliates can certainly create and maintain the illusion of truth over a period of time. Ultimately the truth will out, but until then they will happily do their visitors a disservice in return for juicy commissions.
Marketing an inferior product through fake reviews should be ruled out on moral grounds. It’s simply not principled knowingly to sell an inferior product to a customer.
For some, though, principles are unimportant in the rush to make money. In those cases, the risk of legal action may be the only thing that stops them. Care for the customer is starting to motivate honorable companies to follow that path.
Behaving ethically may be a slower road to success. But ultimately, it’s the right road. You may earn less money by giving the best product the best review, but the road to long-term online success is by OVER delivering high-value content to your visitor.