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How to Spot Fake Product Reviews Online

Saving money is about more than just not spending money. Saving money is also about spending wisely

When you are going to make a purchase the cheapest option is not always the best. You want to buy quality products. Product reviews are one of the best ways to evaluate a product before you buy.

Unfortunately, the internet is filled with fake reviews.

What are fake product reviews?

Positive product reviews are not only important to influence shoppers into making a purchase, reviews also have a big impact on how a product ranks in a site’s search result.

This leads some shady product companies to pay for fake reviews. Here’s how it works.

  1. The product owner posts a fake review request to private chat rooms or to other online groups that specialize in buying and selling reviews.
  2. A person accepts the request for a review and will then buy the product with their own money. This allows their fake review to get a “verified purchase” label on some shopping sites. After buying the product they will post a 5-star review and take screenshots.
  3. The fake reviewer then sends the screenshots back to the requesting company and is reimbursed for the cost of their purchase plus an additional fee for their fake review.
  4. The reviewer makes a few dollars for each review they post and the product company gets a boost of 5-star reviews for their product.

Everyone wins! Except us, the average online shopper just trying to figure out if a product is any good!

Good news, there are a few easy ways to spot these fake reviews and filter them out.

How to spot the fake reviews?

If you’ve got some experience with online shopping, you probably already have your own system for sorting through product reviews.

Many fake reviews are easy to spot. They use a lot of overly positive descriptive words and lack any sense of authenticity.

A good approach is to read a few 5 stars reviews, check the 1-star reviews and spend most of your time with the 3 and 4-star reviews. That’s a good system. The 3 and 4-star reviews tend to be the most honest.

Also, taking the time to read the 1-star reviews can give you a sense of whether or not the complaint is valid or just someone that was having a tough day.

The same is true for apps. We get some interesting 1-star reviews for the Tip Yourself app. We had a person give us a 1-star review because they were upset to learn that they had to put their own money into their Tip Jar. ☹️

I suppose they thought we were an app that gave out free money. If that was true, Tip Yourself would be very popular! 🙂

So you can read through reviews but what if you want to know the true overall product rating? That’s where automated review filtering services are a great resource.

Filtering Amazon Reviews Automatically

For Amazon, there are online services that will automatically sort through all the reviews and give you an updated rating.

These services use a computer program to find common patterns of fake reviews such as a bunch of 5-star reviews coming in all at once at a very high rate and the reuse of common phrases or words that indicate someone quickly copy-and-pasting many reviews over and over again.

Sometimes the results can be shocking. Here’s an example from ReviewMeta for a set of Bluetooth headphones.

ReviewMeta Screenshot

That’s a drastic drop in product rating, a solid 4.3 stars out of five down to only 1 star. Ouch!

Here are two of the most popular review filtering services:

These services allow you to copy and past in the URL of an Amazon product page. They will then generate a report on the quality of product reviews for the product.

In my opinion, it’s definitely worth running a quick report through one of these services before you make a purchase. You’ll be surprised sometimes at what you find!

However, that still doesn’t take away the need for good old fashion common sense.

Review Filtering is Not Perfect

It’s important to call out that these review filtering services are not perfect. Spotting fake reviews is not a perfect science and the bad guys are always working hard to get around the patterns these services are using to filter reviews.

The review filtering services also get it wrong sometimes. It’s possible that they accidentally filter out real reviews at times. It’s not perfect.

As always use your best judgment, common sense should never be overruled by the information you get from any product reviews or review filtering sites.

Have you spotted any fake reviews?

What’s been your experience with fake reviews?

Have you used any of these review filtering sites before? Did you find them helpful?

A lifelong student of habits and behavior change. Mike is the CEO and co-founder of Tip Yourself, a mobile app and community focused on saving money through positivity and small shifts in habits.

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