Guest Post by Karol K.
Fake customer reviews are rampant online. Most of the time an average reader won't even notice that the customer review they're reading is fake.
Everyone needs to be aware of a number of details that give away the real story behind any customer product review.
What's the point of publishing a fake product review?
The only reason I can see why a blogger would publish a fake review is to earn some quick affiliate commissions.
Let's face it, reviews are a great marketing tool. Most of the time, when people are thinking about buying a given product, there are three stages in the process...
- Searching for a good product, looking at the features, offers, and compiling a set of possible purchases.
- Searching for reviews to find out what other people think about the products.
- Searching for a place to buy the thing.
Step number two is where fake reviews come into play. If the review makes the readers eager to buy the product then they can simply click an affiliate link from inside the review, and immediately go to the sales page.
Therefore, for some fairly popular sites, publishing well-disguised fake reviews can be very, very profitable.
Here's how to tell if a review is fake...
There are no cons
Every product has something that's not so great about it. Quite simply, nothing is perfect.
If someone is telling you that a given product will cure everything and make you rich within a day then it's simply not true.
Every honest review will list a number of cons, disadvantages, flaws, bad sides etc to any given product. If there aren't any then you're not reading a real review.
However, some people make it a bit more tricky:
Cons that are not really cons
Listing very simple flaws, ones that don't actually matter in the overall picture is a trick many reviewers use.
For instance, if you're reviewing a new cellphone and say that the battery only lasts 2 hours then it is a real flaw. But if you review the same phone and say that the packaging (the box the phone comes with) is not very pretty (or is heavy, or whatever else) then you're not pointing out a real flaw.
Noticing a fake-flaw isn't that hard. You just have to answer one question: "Can this flaw really impact my decision regarding buying the product?" If not, it's a fake-flaw (or the reviewer is simply not very good).
Too much praising
A good review should be neutral for the most part. Only the summary is a nice place for the reviewer to share their personal opinion.
However, some reviewers praise the product throughout the whole review. For instance, they use words like: great, amazing, groundbreaking, perfect, and so on (you know, the "Steve Jobs speech").
This is a way of setting the mindset of the person reading the review. If you've been told that something is great over and over again then you're more likely to believe in it yourself.
Real reviews remain neutral. Period.
Too many affiliate links
This is a really simple give-away, but since people are using it then it must be working (from a money-earning perspective).
The standard way of reviewing something is to write several hundred words, then sum everything up, and finally share an affiliate link.
Some reviewers have a different perspective on this, and they display an affiliate link every 100 words. This makes the whole review seem like one big sales pitch instead of some relevant, real-life information about the product.
Good reviewers know that if people find their review beneficial they will click the link anyway, so they don't have to put it in front of their face every other sentence.
No actual sign that the reviewer has the product
This one is really cool. Believe it or not, but some people can write a whole review without physically having the product (like in their hands). Everything depends on how well equipped the official website of the product is, and how many other reviews are available online.
Thankfully, there are some ways of getting a grasp on such a situation. Start by looking at more than one review of a given product, if the same phrases are repeated throughout a number of them then you're probably not dealing with real reviews.
Also, pay attention to images, photos, and screenshots (for digital products). If a product is a physical one, yet the reviewer doesn't show any pictures of it then they probably don't have it in their possession.
If the product is a digital one, check other reviews to find out if people are using the same screenshots and images, if so, the review is most likely fake (or simply bad).
No unique information
Every user has a different experience with a given product, so it's really natural for every review to be slightly different and provide slightly different information.
If a review is fake, it will either present information that every other review is presenting, or it will rephrase what the official sales page is saying.
Believe me, reviews written from the official promotional material are not uncommon in the industry.
Including a bonus
The idea is simple here. Many affiliates decide to give an additional bonus to their readers if they decide to click their affiliate link. On one side, this seems like a good idea because people are more likely to make the move.
However, this is a clear indication that the whole review has only one purpose - to earn some money. In my opinion, offering a bonus makes the whole thing a bit confusing and strange. A review should be neutral, it shouldn't convince people to buy or not buy, so where does the bonus come into play?
Of course, you can still take the risk if you really know what you're doing, but be aware of the mixed signals you're sending.
That's it for my take on the matter. Feel free to tell me what yours is.
Do you think that these fake reviews can be a bit annoying, especially if you're searching for some relevant information and not just yet another sales pitch?
About the author: Karol K. is a freelance blogger and writer. If you're searching for an alternative way to make it on the internet, by (for example) learning how to make money writing online, feel free to visit him at YoungPrePro.
Also See: How To Write A Product Review by Lynn Terry