How To Tell If Product Reviews Are FAKE

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...

  1. Searching for a good product, looking at the features, offers, and compiling a set of possible purchases.
  2. Searching for reviews to find out what other people think about the products.
  3. 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 ;-)

 

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I remember once coming across an article from a prominent Internet Marketer (who will remain nameless) regarding using product reviews for affiliate marketing. He went to great lengths to show how to create it without actually having the product, and still making it look like you did. You have addressed most of the things he taught in this article and hopefully people will not be taken in by these fake reviews as much.
    Ian recently posted..Facebook Cover Photo Rule For TextMy Profile

  2. It's funny, but not long ago (maybe 2008-2009), fake reviews were all the craze. Entire business models were built based on fake reviews. A lot of people still make money from them, but it's never been a business model I liked. Personally, when I blog I like to give content, give some good tips, tell you where I learned some of my ninja blogging moves then direct you to a place to acquire said skills (an affiliate link).

    As for the one or two page fake reviews...there are still a lot of them. But Google had made it harder to get ranked. content is king, as it should be. Happy marketing folks! Good times fuzzy bunnies!
    Shane Boyd recently posted..A Super Affiliate Blogger is Clearly DefinedMy Profile

  3. I think there are some good points that Karol writes about. Mind you I'm sure there are lots of people who review products/services that don't actually use them/try them out themselves.
    Thing is, if you've developed a relationship with your subscribers, lets say, we don't feel comfortable reviewing something we don't know anything about and then trying to pass this off to them. Maybe we develop less income this way - so be it.
    Caroline J recently posted..By: Caroline JMy Profile

  4. The fake "con" I really hate is the one where they say, "The only thing wrong is that I want more!" ugh.

    I do break 2 of your rules though - but it works for me. The too much praising rule I break (naturally) because they way I review products is I buy and implement and share my thought processes too, not just results. I've found it's helpful to my readers to take the journey with me of the ups (excitement) and downs (frustration) because sometimes newbies feel like nobody else encounters the same emotions they do. So I'll talk about being so excited that my toes are curling, but I'll also share if I'm annoyed with the product or creator.

    I also break the too many affiliate links rule. Well, sort of. Not every 100 words, but if my blog post is really long, for convenience, I provide 3 links - beginning, middle and end. But I see your point about the type of excess you describes.

    Love your tip about the person not buying it. I'm very upfront if I hear of something my subscribers might enjoy that I'm not buying myself. I tell them if it's a dimesale, but I have no time to implement it. I also admit to them that it's an affiliate link.

    I always try to buy every product that I review. I want to share the entire process - the sales copy and how it affected me, the payment process and download process (including any OTOs, etc that I encounter).

    On bonus items, I dislike the marketers who compete in some bonus feeding frenzy. People will come to me asking during some big launch what my bonus is and I always say, "My bonus is that I implement the course and share my results transparently. I don't bribe you." I always add "Tiff's Tips" to my reviews, which adds value to the review and to their course purchase.

    I typically have a 25-30% conversion rate from my list. They're loyal and trust me. Now I DID do a bonus today sort of. I ran a WSO for FREE of a review I had recently done and I included 4 free PLR packs - but it was stuff that will help them implement this product. There was no catch - they didn't have to buy through my link or anything. Just a free no opt in required download link, so I felt okay about that.
    Tiffany Dow recently posted..The 4 H Rule for Connecting With Your CustomersMy Profile

  5. Thanks for shining the much-needed spotlight on this problem plaguing the web.

    One other factor I also look for is if they utilize affiliate links in any product they might not recommend. I personally do not, but I'm sure there are many who do.

    Might be interesting to take a poll -- if you pan a product, do you still utilize an affiliate link and chalk it up as buyer's choice and a free will market?
    Mary recently posted..Bright Shiny Object Syndrome – itis?My Profile

  6. Great post Karol , all of your 7 points are correct according to me , today is the age of internet marketing and many of the marketers sale their products using these fake reviews and fool the simple people and most of the time happens that people buy a thing online after just looking its pictures and reading the reviews and then in fact when they receive the item that is not the same as is explained in the reviews and is either have different features or is malfunctioning and then they come to know about the wrong decision. Keep it up . you are guiding the people to the right path. Thanks
    1099 sales recently posted..Outside Industrial Sales RepresentativeMy Profile

  7. As I read the list, I realize that I am guilty of \'pushing\' a product (or two) a little too hard. However, the times when that has happened, I also noticed that it was for a FREE product/service when there was no financial gain (or any other gain for that matter).I was truly excited about sharing information about the product - I love it and I use it multiple times a day! Now I question myself... did people think it was a scam/fake review??? I will have to go back and check!Thanks for the info!
    Paul Taubman recently posted..Better Google AnalyticsMy Profile

  8. Sometime its difficult to find if the review they are reading about the product is really genuine. The points you mentioned are excellent to find a fake review.
    I generally read 2-3 reviews & check the reputation of the blog or the affiliate links in the content. If I am on the product website & if there are photographs of the people in testimonial, I check their images in Google image search & find if they are real people.
    Priya N recently posted..Why AllHitDeals Looks Like Scam? What is the Truth of AllHitDeals.com??My Profile

  9. Just one point. Yes, everything has cons. However, if the reviewer is in love with the product or service, the imperfections might not be seen. And thus never make it into the review. Like someone gushing about their new love. Love is blind to flaws.

    Will
    Will Bontrager recently posted..2 Ways to Ensure a Checkbox Is CheckedMy Profile

  10. Wade Watson says:

    YouTube reviews are a hot thing these days, but the same rules certainly apply there. I ran across a video labeled as a "review" for a microphone add-on to a popular camera. It had over 25,000 views. The guy had the item, showed it and spent 6-7 minutes reciting the features-- but had never actually used it! Toward the end he just said he thought it should work just fine. Yea...

  11. I haven't written many reviews, but some of the fake ones are very easy to spot: rehashing of official sales copy, too many glowing adjectives, affiliate links, etc. All that's already been said above.

    But some bloggers have turned the fake review into something akin to an art-form. A good writer who takes the time to do a little research, find a slightly different angle, different screenshots, and is smart enough to include one or two major "cons" can write a very convincing review without ever having used (or even seen) the product.

    People are getting sneakier and sneakier. It's up to us to be more vigilant about this kind of unethical "salesmanship."
    Greg Weber recently posted..Agoraphobia and Panic AttacksMy Profile

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