How to Spot a Fake Google Review and Limit its Impact

Posted - March 11, 2020
Phony Google reviewer

Customer reviews are one of your brand’s biggest assets for reeling in new customers. Reviews hold influential power and contribute to brand authority. They encourage (or discourage) potential customers from visiting your website or making a purchase. While most reviews are genuine opinions of former customers, many businesses have had to deal with fake reviews from competitors or people with personal grudges, when dealing with review management. Whether it’s a fraudulent positive review or a blatant attempt to take your brand down a notch, these reviews can cause you more harm than good. Let’s “review” why phony reviews are a bad thing, how to spot fake reviews, and what you can do about them.  

The Consequences of Fake Reviews

Fake reviews, both positive and negative, produce poor results for the businesses that earn them. The issue with fake negative reviews is quite obvious: if your brand garners enough one-star reviews with slandering commentary to boot, your credibility and trust can quickly plummet. The worst part? Once your credibility is lost, even current customers may not return. You must also be wary of four-star review schemes that seem positive on their surface but may actually drag down your business’ rating. So why not just create more five-star reviews to boost your rating back up? Even if you create fake reviews that give your business consistent five-star ratings, most consumers can sniff out an embellishment rather quickly. If a prospect even suspects a fake review, they may decide against your services because they’ve lost trust in you.

Fake Google reviews

Spotting a Fraud

Fake Google reviews can be quite tricky to sniff out. It’s also risky to push for a review removal unless you truly know a review is fraudulent. So how do you know? Watch out for these red flags… and keep in mind that we aren’t talking about truthful negative reviews—you’re stuck with those!

The Reviewer’s Name is Not in Your Records

If the reviewer left their name and you find out that theirs isn’t on in your database, then they’ve never bought your product or received your services. This is almost a sure sign of a falsified review.

The User Has Left Many Similar Reviews

Reviewer profiles show past reviews they have given to other establishments. If you find that most of their reviews are just one-stars or contain very similar phrasing, they could be part of a negative review group that is hired out to drag down the competition.

Blatantly False Information

One of the biggest signs of a fraudulent review is if the reviewer discusses services and products your company doesn’t even offer. If the review contains poor star ratings and blatantly false information about your business, be prepared to handle a fake review.

The Reviewer’s Other Reviews Are All Over the Map

If a reviewer has left reviews for businesses all over the nation. Look for reviews for services that are almost always local (plumbers, pest control, etc.). They’re a great indication that the reviewer is getting paid to leave negative reviews.

What You Can Do About Fake Reviews

Unfortunately, you can’t just delete a review that doesn’t leave your business in a positive light. However, review management is an essential part of local search optimization. So, you can approach fake reviews as you would a standard negative one: with a response. Put on your best customer service voice and address the problem at hand, while also showing future prospects that the reviewer:

  • Was never a customer at your location
  • Didn’t elaborate on their issue, but you are still concerned as a business owner
  • Offered false information about your services, or perhaps confused you with another business
  • Has a pattern of unnatural-looking reviews
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Report Them to Google

Any suspect Google review can be reported by anyone who sees your Google My Business listing. Once a comment has been flagged, the user will be prompted to provide further information on the potential violation. Google will then review the complaint and may or may not take down the review. Hint: Google is more likely to review and address fake reviews that are flagged by multiple users.

Fight the Phonies With Dallas SEO Dogs

Dallas SEO Dogs wants your reviews to present a strong, positive image of your brand. Even though sometimes fraudulent reviews from competitors can slip through the cracks, our review management services can help you handle the issue with resilience. If your Google reviews are struggling, but you don’t have time to deal with fake review removal or responses, we can help! Call us today to start benefiting from review management and SEO services!