How to Spot a Fake Online Product Review

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Online product reviews, we see them every day, whether they're on online shopping sites, travel sites, etc. Most of the time, we don’t even consider whether they are genuine or not.

Who would write a fake product review? Unfortunately, there are lots of people with the motivation needed to write fake reviews. Some people do it to increase their sales, some do it hoping to harm competitors, resulting in increased sales for themselves.

Are fake reviews harmful? Of course they are!. They could cause you to waste money on something based on false information. In certain situations, this could be extremely dangerous, especially if the nature of the product or service is safety or health-related.

So how can you tell if an online review for a product or service is legitimate or not?

Here Are Some Tips on How To Spot a Fake Online Product Review:

The Review is Extremely Negative or Positive (1 or 5 Star):

Reviews that are polar (i.e either a 1-star or a 5-star rating) should raise suspicions. Fake reviewers may try and manipulate the overall average value of reviews for a specific product. The only way to effectively do this is to publish polar reviews that are either 1 or 5 stars. It doesn’t serve the false reviewer's interest to leave 2, 3, or 4-star reviews, as it won’t cause the average to move very far in one direction or the other.

If you want honest reviews, look at the ones in the middle of the review spectrum, these are most likely the ones that will be legitimate. Throw out the glowing high 5’s and the scathing low 1’s.

The Review Seems Too Well Written:

While there are a lot of good writers out there, you should be a little suspicious if the review seems too well written as this may be a red flag that the review has been written by a marketing shill.

If the review is filled with marketing speak and superlatives about all the great features of the product, then it is probably someone with a vested interest in the success of the product, whether it be the person selling it or even the maker of the product.

The Review Repeatedly Mentions The Exact Product Name:

Some fake reviews are designed to attempt to game search engine results with the intention of driving traffic to the review site or the product purchase page. In order to try and game the search engine, the reviewer will repeatedly mention the exact product name, over and over again, thinking that the more they mention it, the higher it will appear in search results.

This practice is known as “keyword stuffing” and a definite sign that the review is most likely not legitimate as no normal reviewer would expend the amount of effort required for this kind of thing.

The Reviewer’s History Raises Some Suspicion:

If you are suspicious that a review might be fake. You might want to take a look at the reviewer’s history and their other reviews. Most e-commerce sites will allow you to click on the reviewer’s name and it will show you other reviews they’ve done (if they’ve done any other ones).

The Reviewer Uses The Same Text Used Over and Over in Other Reviews:

Fake reviewers may reuse a lot of text from other reviews they’ve written before. If you see the same thing repeatedly, the review might be fake or bot-generated.

All of The Reviewer’s Other Reviews are 1 or 5 Star Reviews:

Again. It’s doubtful someone is always going to give out either very low or very high reviews for every product they review. As mentioned earlier, polar reviews are a red flag that something might not be right about the review.

Reviewer ID Anomalies:

The reviewer’s user ID may be indicative of foul play as well.

A long string of numbers after a reviewer username might indicate that they are using multiple profiles in conjunction with some kind of automated fake review-generating bot. Again, by itself, not necessarily an indicator of a fake review, but combined with other factors, it might indicate that something fishy is going on.  

Bottom Line: Throw out the 1 stars and the 5 stars and look at the reviews in the middle. This is where most of your real “average joe” reviews are going to be. Also be on the lookout for the other red flags we mentioned.