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Spotting Fake Google Reviews: A Guide to Identifying and Dealing with Fake Reviews

Spotting Fake Google Reviews: A Guide to Identifying and Dealing with Fake Reviews
Tobias Roelen-Blasberg
Co-Founder & Head of Product
Fake reviews can be difficult to detect; however, this guide can help you learn what to look for and provide guidance on how to report them.
Spotting Fake Google Reviews: A Guide to Identifying and Dealing with Fake Reviews
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Fake Google reviews can be tricky to detect, but once you know what to look for, it’s easier to spot them. For starters, check the profile of the reviewer. If you haven’t heard of them before, or their profile only has one review, it’s likely a fake one. Another clue is the language of the review. If the review is overly complimentary or overly negative, it’s likely a fake.

Once you’ve identified a fake review, you can report it to Google. To do this, open your Google My Business listing, click on the review, and click the “Flag as Inappropriate” button. You can also go to the Google My Business support page and report the review. Google will then review the review and remove it if it violates their policies. It’s important to remember that you can’t remove a review yourself, only Google can do that. You can find a detailed guide in this article.

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What are the dangers of fake reviews?

It is important to be aware of the various sources of fake reviews on Google so that you don't end up falling prey to them. Business owners often try to buy fake reviews from service providers and vendors in order to make their product shine or to damage the reputation of their competitors. They may also write fake reviews themselves or ask their employees, family, and friends to do so. In some cases, customers may be offered discounts or other benefits in exchange for writing positive reviews. This is especially common in the hospitality industry, where managers may offer customers discounts in exchange for leaving five-star ratings on Google. Such practices are becoming increasingly common as businesses look for ways to quickly recoup their investments and boost their rankings on Google.

It seems tempting to boost your rating by buying fake reviews in bulk but that is actually a really bad idea. Buying Google fake reviews in bulk is not only unethical, but it can also have serious legal and financial consequences. Google has strict policies against artificial reviews and can take action against those who attempt to manipulate ratings with fake reviews. Depending on the severity of the manipulation, this could include suspension of an account, removal of the offending reviews, and even a fine. Additionally, more and more customers are becoming savvy to fake reviews and can recognize them a mile away. Having a few fake reviews can actually damage a company's reputation and credibility, resulting in lost customers and revenue. In fact, businesses lose around $152 billion globally in revenue every year because of fake reviews.

impact-of-fake-reviews-statistics
These statistics highlight the importance of online reviews and how fake reviews impact this (Source)

What Google is doing to fight fake reviews

Google has taken steps to help combat this issue by introducing several measures to detect and remove inaccurate reviews. Here are some actions Google is taking to fight fake reviews:

Automated Detection

Google uses automated detection systems to identify and remove fake reviews. These systems are able to detect suspicious activity, such as when an account leaves a large volume of reviews in a short period of time or when a review is written in the same style as other reviews from the same account. Google also uses machine learning algorithms to detect reviews that are likely to be fake.

These efforts have proven effective as Google has removed more than 4 million fake business reviews and 75 million policy-violating reviews. They’ve also acted on user reports and removed over 500,000 reviews and 200,000 business profiles flagged by users. These numbers validate Google’s strategies to fight fake reviews and ensure users follow their review guidelines.

Manual Review

In addition to automated detection, Google also has a team of human reviewers who manually review suspicious reviews. These reviewers are trained to assess the validity of a review by looking for signs of manipulation, such as when the same language is used in multiple reviews from the same account. You can learn how to flag a review for revision in this article.

How to Spot Fake Google Reviews

Fake reviews are relatively easy to spot, once you know what to look for. Here are some key signs to watch out for when determining if a Google review is fake:

1. Check the writing style and generic language

Fake reviews are unfortunately present on the internet and often written by those who lack command of the language they are using. It is key to be mindful of reviews with grammar or spelling errors, or that have an uncommon or inconsistent writing style, as this could indicate the review is not genuine and should be treated with caution. It is essential to be aware that these reviews could originate from anywhere and are not always reliable sources of information.

Fake reviews often contain generic language, with phrases such as "amazing service" or "great product" that lack detail or information. This can be a strong indicator of a fake review. Look at this example:

how-to-spot-fake-reviews-example
An example of legitimate vs. fake Google reviews and how to tell the difference (Source)

Another common indicator of a fake review is multiple exclamation points or the use of an excessive number of emoticons, which may indicate that the review is not genuine.

2. Pay close attention to the details included in the review

Fake reviews can be easily identified due to a lack of accuracy in their details. For instance, if a review states that the reviewer visited your business while it was closed, or mentions a product or service you do not offer, it is likely to be a false review. It is important to be on the lookout for such reviews and take necessary action if a review is suspected to be fake.

3. Look for unprofessional or generic profiles

In most cases, fake reviews will also have vague or nondescript names such as "John Smith" or "Anonymous", and may also have a generic avatar or no avatar at all. It is advisable to be cautious of reviews that do not provide any information about the reviewer or have suspicious usernames.

4. Check the reviewer's history

It is essential to scrutinize the timing of reviews. If a reviewer posts a number of reviews in rapid succession, it may be indicative of inauthentic reviews. Similarly, if the reviewer has left reviews for many businesses or services, this could also be a sign that the reviews are not genuine. It is important to be aware of such indicators as they can aid in identifying fake reviews and ensure that feedback from genuine customers is obtained.

5. Check for suspicious content

Fake reviews are often crafted to promote or detract from a given business or product. It is important to take note of reviews that contain exaggerated claims or are overly positive or negative. Additionally, be suspicious of reviews that contain links to external websites or that seem to be attempting to manipulate the ratings of a business.

6. Check if competitor products or services are mentioned

If you spot a review that references a competitor's product, or one that contains irrelevant information, this could be an indication of a fake review. Furthermore, reviews that are only full of positive statements about a product or business should be approached with caution.

7. Check if a business has received many reviews in bulk

Many reviews with suspiciously recent timestamps can be a sign that the review may not be genuine. Fake reviews often come in waves, so pay attention to the pattern of reviews and look out for any that stand out. If the reviews all appear to have been written within a short time period, this could indicate that the reviews are fake.

8. Reviews with no comments

A suspiciously high proportion of reviews with no comments may be indicative of a business paying for fake reviews. If a business obtains more than 50% of reviews that do not include any text, it should be regarded as a warning sign.

Can you get fake Google reviews removed?

Not directly. The person who posted the review can delete it or your business can "flag the review as inappropriate." When you flag the review, Google will review it and decide whether or not to remove it. You can find a detailed guide on how to flag fake Google reviews in this guide.

How do I respond to a fake Google review?

The best way to respond to a fake Google review is to flag it immediately. However, there are some cases when Google doesn’t delete the review as they think it doesn’t violate their Review Guidelines. When this happens, replying is best to mitigate its possible negative effects on your online reputation. The best way to do this is to provide context on the possible discrepancy in the review, address the issue raised by the reviewer, and assure potential customers that you’re currently reviewing the matter.

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What are fake 5-star Google reviews?

Fake 5-star Google reviews are reviews posted online by people who have not actually used the product or service being reviewed, or have only briefly used it, in an effort to manipulate the overall rating of the product or service on Google. Fake reviews can be found on virtually any platform, from Amazon to Yelp, but Google is one of the most popular sources of fake reviews.

Fake five-star Google reviews are often created by businesses or individuals with the intention of increasing the overall rating of their product or service on Google. This is done in an effort to make the product or service appear more appealing to potential customers. In certain instances, businesses may even offer remuneration for individuals to write fake reviews for their products.

What are fake 1-star Google reviews?

Fake 1-star Google reviews are reviews that are deliberately left by an individual or business with the aim of harming their competitor's reputation and deterring potential customers. These reviews are often written by someone who has not experienced the business's services or products, and is intended to negatively influence the business's online presence.

Fake one-star reviews can have a considerable effect on a business's reputation, as many individuals take reviews into account when making a decision on whether to avail of a business's services or products. Fake one-star reviews can also lead to a business losing prospective customers, as people tend to avoid businesses with a negative online presence. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to take proactive measures to identify and address fake one-star reviews.

How do you deal with fake 1 star reviews?

Fake reviews are probably the only type of reviews you should not respond to. However, it is still important to be proactive when dealing with fake negative reviews. Responding to each review can lead to an escalation of the situation and potential future customers might be confused when it's testimony against testimony. So instead of reacting right away, it is best to monitor reviews on a regular basis and flag those that seem suspicious. This way, you can take the necessary steps to protect your business from the damaging effects of false reviews.

If feasible, attempt to interact with customers to demonstrate that you value their experience and to ascertain whether the experience is legitimate. It is essential to remember that legal action should only be taken as a last resort when the damage caused by false reviews is too great. Taking the appropriate measures to safeguard your business from such reviews can help preserve your reputation and ensure customer satisfaction.

What is the best way to respond to a bad review on Google?

In many cases, suspicious-looking reviews may turn out to be genuine as Google is doing a great job at proactively detecting and removing fake reviews. In these cases, you need to follow a different strategy: If a review cannot be removed, it is wise to take steps to reduce the damage it could cause. Reply to all genuine reviews, good or bad, to uphold a good reputation. Utilize a guide to reputation management to increase customer satisfaction and reply to negative reviews to give a neutral account of the situation.

We have compiled an extensive guide that you can follow to craft the best responses to any kind of review here. In addition, the following article showcases how you can respond to your Google reviews in seconds by using our AI Review Reply Assistant.

Respond to all Google reviews with AI.

The tool is designed to help you manage your online reputation and build relationships with your customers. Our clients love MARA because they can respond to reviews professionally in record time, and deliver the best possible customer experience. Here are some other benefits, why they love to ouse MARA:

  • Quickly and easily generate personalized review responses to make your guests feel heard and appreciated.
  • Save time and money by using automated review responses. You don’t have to craft hundreds of reviews responses from scratch!
  • Optimize your online reputation by responding to ALL your reviews. The more you respond to customer feedback, the better your overall star rating and online reputation will be.
  • Stop always stressing about what to say to every reviewer. Our software simply generates tailored, unique review responses for you.

Get started with our free trial and boost your online reviews today!

This article is part of our hero content series on “Mastering Google Reviews - A Complete Guide".

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you deal with fake online reviews?

Fake online reviews are prevalent in all online review platforms, such as Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and more. The best way to deal with fake online reviews is to flag them for deletion.

How are fake reviews detected?

Each online review platform runs its own algorithm for detecting fake reviews. Most websites check the linguistic pattern of the reviews and the account information of the reviewer.

How do I contact Google review team?

Once you flag a review, Google will automatically open a communication channel. However, should you want to provide additional evidence or request further actions, go to https://support.google.com/business where you can review FAQs, ask the help community, or contact the Google review team.

Can you block someone from leaving a Google review?

Google My Business profile owners can block Google users from posting a review on their listings. You can only flag a review once it’s been posted on your profile.

What happens if you leave a fake bad review?

Online review platforms are most likely to ban or suspend user accounts that leave fake bad reviews. Businesses that post fake reviews can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission, which may take legal action.

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