Illegal Reviews Are Bad: Here Are 5 Effective Ways to Spot Them and What to Do About Them

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Online reviews can be bad for business.

I know. It goes against everything I have said about them in our other blog posts.

The truth is, online reviews are pretty useful for businesses in many ways. They can be used to acquire new customers. They can help you spot a flaw or two in your business. They can help to boost your reputation online.

But they can also damage your reputation.

As much as 90% of all consumer trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth. Did you know that 1 negative review can cost you 30 customers? Now imagine what would happen if your reviews are mostly negative.

Yes, it’s going to be freakish nightmare on Elm Street.

Negative reviews are common. You can’t please everyone and so you can’t avoid it. And so, smart businesses have a plan for how to turn negative reviews into positive ones.

The problem is that not all negative reviews are from concerned customers. Some could be posted by really angry customers who are just out to get you. They could also be from competitors trying to ruin your reputation online.

What makes it worse is that online review platforms make it hard for brands to remove negative reviews. Customers’ reviews are protected by the First Amendment and the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.

Here are a few things you can’t do about negative reviews:

  • You can’t restrict your customers from writing reviews online as long as they are factual.
  • You can’t take legal action against a customer who posted a negative review unless the customer says something you can prove is untrue.
  • You can’t ask review sites to take down a negative review. This will only happen if the review goes against the platform’s terms of service.

With all these restrictions, it seems pretty futile trying to get rid of a poor review. It puts a lot of power in the hands of the customers, and in the hands of other people you’d rather not have posting reviews about you.

The good news is that you are not completely helpless.

You can learn to spot fake or illegal reviews so that you can have them removed from your review page.

Today is your lucky day. I have put together 5 ways that will help you spot a fake review.

Here they are:

  1. Verify The Customer Avatar

If the poor review came from a spurious source, chances are they will use a random headshot photos as their avatars. Even worse, they might use a cartoon or fictional character for the same purpose.

If this is the case, you could run a reverse image search on the photo used. You could ask the user to identify him- or herself in a private message. When this doesn’t happen or the avatar turns out to be a random internet image, suspect the review.

    2. Go Through The Review History

Most review platforms allow you to see the posting history of your customers. Click on the user’s name to display their review history. You need to comb through the history to spot patterns.

The posting history of a real customer will comprise of both positive and negative reviews. It will also contain suggestions about how to improve certain aspect of your business.

In the case where the review history shows that all the reviews posted by the user are negative, it is possibly a fake user.

If the user refuses to allow you make amends or specify what exactly they didn’t like about your service, they are fake users. You need to report the user immediately.

    3. Observe The Timestamps

Observe time of post of all reviews you receive. You will notice that genuine reviews are evenly spaced out in time. Real customers will only write a review whenever they do business with you. This may happen once or twice a week or month.

However, if you get a flurry of negative reviews that happen to be posted at about the same time frame, be suspicious. Fake reviews may use a bot to generate and post reviews on your review page.

   4. Observe The Tone And Writing Style

The tone and writing style of a review may hold some clue as to whether it is genuine or not. A real review will have emotional undertone. They may include words that convey the feel, excitement or sadness, of the reviewer.

Whereas, a review from a bot will lack that emotional feel. It will sound monotonous and repetitive. There may also be differences in how certain things are written. For instance, your real customer may write $1,000 while the fake user may write it as 1,000USD.

   5. Search The Name On The User Account

If the review site you use requires their users to register with their real names, you could search for that name on Google. You could also do this on social media and narrow your search to your local area. If nothing turns up, be suspicious of that user.

Most bot account may have friends on social media but may not appear to relate with them. They may only post third party content on their pages. Or place promotional posts in the comment section of news or viral posts.

So, in a nutshell…

If the reviewer is using a random avatar, has an all-negative review history, posted all poor reviews at about the same time, has a monotonous (emotionless) writing tone, and doesn’t turn up in name searches, that reviewer is fake.

You need to report them immediately to the review site. Put all these as evidence to your claim.

Negative reviews can severely damage your online reputation. Potential customers do not care if all the negative reviews are fake reviews. This is why you should do something about quickly. However, the only way you can address this speedily is if you know the instant a person posts a review.

Fortunately, we have got the best solution…

SpotOn Reviews is a platform that helps you manage all your reviews in one place if you use multiple platforms to collect customer reviews. With our platform, you will receive notifications immediately a customer leaves a feedback.

This way, you can effectively monitor your reviews to fish out the fake ones.


I bet you are.

Feel free to contact us and ask any questions; we’d be happy to tell you more.

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