Online reviews can potentially help consumers choose businesses with excellent products and customer service. Unfortunately, it has become difficult for people to trust the reviews they read online. By learning more about fake reviews, you can spot them and take your business to more trustworthy locations.

Where Do Fake Reviews Come From

fake reviews

Research from the Harvard Business School shows that about 20 percent of Yelp reviews are fake. Where do all of these fake reviews come from?

Most come from businesses that want to trick new customers into visiting them instead of their competitors. A restaurant owner, for instance, may write positive reviews for his or her establishment while posting negative comments about local competitors.

Some marketing companies are so brazen about fake reviews that they post job ads on Craigslist. Applicants just write fake reviews for the marketing company’s clients, post them to sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and earn money from home.

It’s an underhanded approach designed to mislead consumers. The Internet can help people make informed decisions about where they spend their money, but fake reviews undermine that with false¬†information.

Spotting a Fake Review

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between a fake review and a real one. The kind of business owners who do this aren’t usually the brightest people around. If they knew more about business, they wouldn’t need to lie.

You can usually spot a fake that favors a business by looking at a dozen or so other reviews. If a hotel has a dozen negative reviews and one glowing recommendation, you can bet that the recommendation is a fake.

A similar approach will help you spot fake negative reviews. A hotel that has positive remarks from a dozen people and one retched review is probably a good place to stay. It’s possible that one person had a miserable experience, but it’s just as likely that someone posted that fake review to push you away from a great place to spend the night.

Other warning signs include:

  • Keyword stuffing – if you see a lot of industry keywords in a review, someone probably pulled them off a spreadsheet
  • Exaggerations – a lot of fake reviews include positive or negative exaggerations. Ask yourself whether the review sounds like something a real person would say
  • I, I, I! – fake review writers often try to sound legitimate by using “I” a lot. Most people aren’t that worried about how they sound to readers

Don’t get conned by fake hotel reviews. Keep your wits about you and question the things you read online. Don’t trust reviews that sound suspicious to you. There’s probably something misleading about them.

Fake Reviews Impossible to Take Seriously

Fake reviews aren’t all bad. If nothing else, at least you can get a few chuckles from the worst ones. Terrific examples of horrible reviews include complaints about:

  • a hotel with bloodstained headboards and “actual poo in the kettle”
  • getting puked on by a fellow guest at a hotel with a Freddy Mercury Tribute night
  • haunted rooms
  • a dead cockroach in a mixed drink

At least two of those complaints sound somewhat fun.

Have you ever spotted fake reviews online? What convinced you that the reviews weren’t legitimate?

Image via Flickr by ewen and donabel

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