Working in the reviews industry is never light on surprises and constantly provides proof of what a diverse and incredible species human beings are. At their core reviews are stories, tales and observations of experiences with products and services. They can be dry, matter of fact; they can be florid and overly descriptive, sometimes they are mean and unreasonable. But overall, I am always aware that human beings cherish sharing their particular stories, so as to help out others, in either pointing them toward a product or service that has been incredible, or to warn them off those that are not what they should be.
But it’s also incredibly important to remember that reviews are a reflection that casts light on a business’ reputation and reputations are the core of every business’ strengths, or weaknesses. A robust and verified review system is so absolutely essential to ensure that reputations are built up accurately and not knocked down unnecessarily.
Over they years we have seen it all, when it comes to the worst that human beings will attempt to achieve through reviews. That’s the important thing to note – ‘attempt to achieve’. Because NoCowboys reviews are verified and authenticated and we have systems in place to isolate fraudulent reviews – we head most of them off at the pass.
Generally these sort of reviews fall into two categories – ones attempting to bolster reputations and ones trying to discredit them. The former are easily spotted. For instance, until I immersed myself in the world of reviews I had no idea that there was such a thing as temporary email addresses. These are generated on dubious sites for nefarious means – to be used for spamming, and scamming. The email addresses themselves are always a giveaway – filled with numbers and and symbols and shonky domain names.
Reviews to discredit reputations are posted in the hopes of inflicting damage and they can be from competitors to a business, disgruntled ex-employees or in some cases, unhappy ex-partners, girlfriends or boyfriends. Again, they fail through verification.
Now all of this brings one telling observation. If NoCowboys can initiate and employ rigorous verification processes, then why can’t the world’s largest ‘search engine’? Google reviews in short do not protect reputations or project accurate reflections of them because they are easily manipulated with very little oversight. Fake reviews from non-customers require only a Gmail address. That’s all – an email address.
I’ve had conversations with business owners at their wits end because they cannot do anything about fake negative reviews posted on Google. Google is too big, too focused on generating advertising revenue to have the wherewithal to deal with them. Every day millions of reviews are posted and there is absolutely no guarantee of their accuracy.
I’ve also spoken with people who know, without a doubt, that businesses have accrued reviews on Google to enhance their reputation. In fact, I’ve seen it many times myself. I’ve highlighted them through Google’s antiquated reporting ‘system’. Nothing has happened, not once and in actuality this is fraud, false advertising, generating custom and business through smoke and mirrors.
What this means, in a nutshell, is that Google does not care for reputations and does not have the ability to deal with reviews. Its focus is elsewhere. If you think about this another way, Google actually uses reviews in aggregating search results – its own and what’s known as ‘third party ones’ – such as NoCowboys, Facebook, Trip Advisor, for example. How accurate then are those search results if Google’s own unreliable reviews are a part of the equation? Not very, if any.
This week, a registered business that uses our services suddenly had a number of negative reviews within a very short space of time. This is a company with a very, very good reputation. Our systems flagged them and under closer scrutiny it appeared they may not be legitimate. They weren’t. But here’s the rub. This company then had the very same reviews posted on Google. They are not legitimate customers and that doesn’t matter. They are there, for all the world to see, with the business owner getting all the help he can to try and bring them to Google’s attention. His only recourse is to reply to them, pointing out there are no records of them ever being customers. This is not how reputations should be protected. They are far too valuable.