In life and business, indeed in everything we do, trust is a valued and desired commodity. Now that reviews are part and parcel of consumer choice online, it’s worth knowing that not all reviews are the same and that some sites do not monitor or remove suspect and inauthentic ones.

The very latest research on online reviews published by BrightLocal in late 2017 paid more attention than it had before to the issue of fake reviews. The reason for that is simple – as reviews have become accepted and sought after, certain businesses and review platforms have looked to profit from unreliable and dodgy ones.

“Fake reviews (as in, reviews left by the business itself or its connections, paid-for reviews, or reviews left by ex-employees or competitors that don’t accurately reflect the business experience) have widely been acknowledged as a problem when it comes to maintaining a positive reputation.” Local Consumer Review Survey 2017, BrightLocal.

Nobody wants to engage with reviews that are manipulated to tell an untruthful story of a businesses’ performance or of the reliability and worthiness of a product. It leads to bad consumer experiences and disastrous outcomes.

When looking at reviews and star ratings, it pays to looks for two things – the nature of the reviews themselves and the rules that review sites have for posting them.

If it looks suspicious – then odds are it is

Reviews that repeat key phrases or sentences in close proximity to each other are more often than not false.

A large number of reviews posted over a short period of time are also highly suspicious and point toward someone loading up fake reviews from phoney email addresses.

Reviews that read like informercials are definitely suspicious and point toward a not very well though out scheme to try and over sell a business or product.

If it is very short, badly written – with little or no punctuation, then odds are it’s produced by third party review writers who are paid per review and very often are writing in English as a second language.

The business or product has no other web presence at all – it’s worth Googling a company if you’re in doubt about the reviews.

Think of it like spam and scam emails – if it appears too good to be true – then it most probably is.

Look for review sites that have authentic reviews

Reliable review platforms have a number of practices in place to ward off erroneous or false reviews. NoCowboys’ reviews, for example, need to be authenticated by a verifiable email address and IP – and every review that is posted is checked by professional review scrutinisers who know what to look for.

We are now aware that while so much online is real and accurate, some of it is not. Unfortunately there are some amongst our species who make money from deception but they can be avoided by going to sites that can be trusted and applying good old common sense to reviews that appear suspicious. Think of it like spam and scam emails – if it appears too good to be true – then it most probably is.

To find service providers and tradespeople with authentic and verified consumer reviews – visit www.nocowboys.co.nz