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Take Online Reviews with a Grain of Salt
By: Miranda Miller
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Online reviews hold a good deal of weight in helping people make purchasing decisions, whether the purchase is completed off or online. Like so many other things in life, though, you can’t believe everything you hear…or read.

While there are no studies on exactly how many online reviews are faked, it’s clearly happening. Companies hire out review writers to flood popular services like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Places, and company pages on Facebook with glowing reviews. Others hire people to leave bad reviews for their competitors. How can you tell which reviews might be fake?
  • Visit the profile of the reviewer. If they only leave positive reviews, always review the same brand or company, or conversely only leave negative reviews, they may not be real.
  • Look at the dates they left reviews; if they were all around the same time and the user became inactive afterwards, they could be paid reviews.
  • Copy and paste the review into your search bar. If you see the same review appearing on numerous sites, it’s probably not real.
  • If the reviewer has a string of three or more numbers after their username, they could be part of an automated system.
  • Look at the language of the review: does the reviewer use the actual brand name of a product, or the common name it’s known by? If they repeatedly say “Cuisinart FP-14DCC Elite Food Processor” when they could just say food processor, they could be trying to game the search engines.
  • If the reviewer claims to have hated the product but tried it for some reason known only to them, and shares their amazing story of how it changed their life…it’s probably fake.
  • A user that leaves one-sentence reviews for multiple places that are all the same except for a little bit of personalization, they could be fake, ie.: “I love the atmosphere at ______ and their ______ is great.”
  • If numerous users all left reviews around the same time, and there hasn’t been much activity since, they could all be the same person or company leaving reviews under different names.
  • In some cases, companies hire people to review products before they are even released. Was the review written before the product came out? Yep, it’s probably fake.
  • The reviewer includes a link for you to go purchase the item. They could be affiliates and getting a commission.
Use caution when looking for purchasing advice or reviews online. It’s a bit of extra work to vet reviewers before taking them at their word, but it could keep you from making a purchase you’ll regret later.

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About the Author
Miranda Miller is an author, online Marketing Manager, Internet skills trainer, speaker, social media addict, and all-around geek. The End.
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