Updated January 11, 2023Reading Time: 3 minutes
Five Stars Only
Having any kind of online presence can be a risk. By publicly putting your information and reputation on the internet you are opening yourself up to scrutiny and comments from people who may not know you and may not like you. Because of this, it is important to take care where and how you share your information to ensure that you are actively managing your online reputation. This is never truer than when working with online review websites.
Fake Reviews, Fake News
Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are great for consumers in theory. The can quickly give out a number of different, unbiased opinions on a business. You might not have ever been to the diner on Main Street, but if you see 100 reviews averaging out at 4.3 stars you know that it isn’t going to be terrible. The same is true of a business. If you have a collection of good reviews then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (as long as your business standards remain the same). But what if you don’t have good reviews. Or, even worse, you have fake bad reviews.
Fake it Until You Make It
Not all negative reviews your business will receive will be fake. Many will be justified and you will need to take a look at your business and work out how to improve. But sometimes you may be the victim of fake, or exaggerated, negative reviews.
Usually, fake negative reviews will be the result of three things:
- A black hat SEO attack
- A personal issue
- A serious customer service issue
If you’re subject to a black hat SEO attack the reviews could be a deliberate action taken by a competitor of yours. They may be paying people or using bots, to negatively review your service, thus severely damaging your online presence. The best way to judge if this is happening is the timing of the reviews. If you are suddenly inundated with a high volume of negative reviews this could be what is happening.
However, most negative fake reviews will come from a disgruntled customer. Again, timing will be a good gauge of what and why this is happening. But, when compared to a black hat attack, the scale will be smaller. The old maxim of “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” seems to be reversed on the internet, so be aware that a negative customer experience can snowball.
The best way to deal with a problem like this is fast. You can report the reviews to the website, who will then attempt to verify if they are legitimate or not. If you can track down the customer behind the reviews, then perhaps try to make amends. But never sink to their level. Any public argument, or response, calling out a bad customer for a negative review does more damage than the bad review itself.
Have you had issues with fake reviews? Or large amounts of negative public feedback? How did you overcome them?