At the height of the pandemic, the U.S. eCommerce market grew an incredible 32.4 percent year over year as consumers spent nearly $800 billion on online purchases in 2020. Yet, despite these impressive numbers, there persists a sense of distrust in online transactions, driving eCommerce businesses to rely on consumer reviews for social proof. But can consumers still trust online reviews?
Not according to a story published on Mashable. With the proliferation of fake reviews, there’s much doubt enshrouding reviews on Google, Amazon, Yelp and other review sites. Marketing consultant and author Tamar Weinberg shared her thoughts on the issue in the article:
I do believe that people make their purchases off highly-rated products – just as I do – but there is a good deal of skepticism if reviews skew positive with little to no negative commentary. I think the concept of ‘is it too good to be true?’ rings loudly in their minds.”
The problem with fake Yelp reviews or fake reviews on Google is that they lead to poor buying decisions, and using them as a sales tactic can leave a negative impact on your brand.
A survey by PCMag revealed that only 27 percent of consumers couldn’t confidently spot fake Amazon reviews, which means using fake reviews to get sales will likely backfire on your brand.
In this blog, we’ll dive into the different types of fake reviews, how these fake reviews on Google can diminish confidence in your brand and various reputation repair strategies to improve online reputation following a reputation crisis.
What Are Fake Reviews?
Fake reviews are reviews that are inconsistent with the experiences of real reviewers. Written with the intent to deceive, they mostly come from sources who have not actually used the product or service. Fake reviews can also come from real users of the product, but their feedback is contrary to their actual experience.
Today, businesses enlist the services of professional review generation companies and bots, or they offer customers rewards to solicit false reviews. Regardless of the source, people leave fake reviews to increase a brand’s own sales (also called astroturfing) or to bring down a competitor.
Although the content of fake reviews is mostly similar, several types of fake reviews exist, motivated by different reasons. Some motivators for fake Google reviews by businesses include:
- Low brand awareness
- Inferior product quality
- Weak brand
- Low ratings
- Stiff competition
In many instances, customers may also be motivated to leave a fake review when they are upset or are seeking rewards.
How Do Fake Reviews Damage Your Brand?
It’s no secret that online reviews play a big part in consumer decision-making. Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, which is why fake Yelp reviews and fake Google reviews persist to this day. The negative impacts these have on both brands and customers are well-documented. But not many businesses consider how fake reviews on Google can actually damage their image and reputation.
In a study published by BrightLocal in 2019, 92 percent of U.S. adult consumers said they’d seen fake reviews online.
The sheer volume of fake reviews on online review sites negatively impacts the online brand reputation management industry as a whole. As users continue to be exposed to fake reviews, more trust in brands and review sites is lost. Once you’re caught using fake reviews, your credibility as a provider goes down – and your sales with it.
A survey by Bazaarvoice showed that 76 percent of customers would lose trust in a brand if they spot fake Amazon reviews from the brand’s employees and other customers. Further, it showed that 82 percent of consumers would avoid using the brand again after losing trust.
Consumers today are more vigilant and won’t hesitate to report fake positive Google reviews when they see them. A quick Google search will show you hundreds of websites that teach how to spot fake Amazon reviews and those on different review sites. At some point, offending brands will get busted – and it never really goes well when brands are caught being misleading. Just to name a few:
- Skincare brand Sunday Riley was heavily criticized for asking employees to post fake positive reviews on Sephora.
- Accessory manufacturer Aukey was kicked off Amazon for paying customers to leave positive reviews.
Using even just a few fake reviews could see your business fall into a reputation crisis. When that happens, you will need intense online brand reputation management to recover and rebuild trust among customers. In the next section, we share reputation repair strategies to win back consumer trust.
How To Recover From a Fake Review Reputation Crisis
If you find yourself in hot water because of a fake review, it’s crucial to know how to repair your reputation quickly before things get out of hand. Read the following tips from reputable reputation repair services to learn how to recover from a crisis:
Evaluate the Extent of the Damage
Your competitor left scathing fake Yelp reviews that went viral in order to sabotage your brand’s reputation. Or you were caught buying fake reviews on Fiverr in an attempt to bolster the ratings on your products. In both scenarios, you will need intense online reputation repair to fix your damaged reputation. Before attempting to do any internet reputation repair, you need to assess the extent of the damage.
Perform an online reputation audit. How severe was the damage to your reputation? Did you receive backlash online? Which channels were affected? How much control do you have over these channels? You will need to use the best online reputation management software or reputation management agency to make this process easier.
Have an Online Reputation Repair Strategy in Place
Although you may be able to report fake positive Google reviews or even negative ones left on your profile, you certainly don’t have control over what other people say about you. That’s why it helps to have an online brand reputation management strategy in place to map out how to repair your reputation.
Based on the insight you’ve gained from your reputation audit, you will know how much control you have over the situation. It’s often a simple case of having to report fake positive Google reviews to improve online reputation, however so slightly. In more severe cases, you’ll need to call a PR firm and get professional reputation repair services.
Offer a Sincere Apology
When you’ve been caught using fake Google reviews, sometimes the best way to begin internet reputation repair is by apologizing. Instead of being defensive, own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions – it’s not easy, but it’s the fastest way to improve customer sentiment.
Start making amends by quickly issuing an apology. Be sincere and express genuine regret and concern. Address the issue and offer ways to fix it. There’s nothing people on the internet hate more than insincere non-apologies.
Defend Your Brand’s Reputation
Some cases may arise where you need to take a defensive stance, especially when reviews start becoming unfair attacks against your brand. Refute false claims made against you in a professional, non-threatening manner. In the face of harassment, standing your ground while maintaining professionalism is best for your brand’s reputation.
With that said, pick your battles. Other claims may be legitimate, but online trolls will inevitably join in. Learn how to spot those trolls and know when to draw the line.
Best Online Reputation Management Services To Improve Online Reputation
Consumer trust in online reviews is currently at an all-time high. However, a single fake review is sometimes all it takes to turn you from a well-loved brand into a cultural pariah. By knowing what to do when the need arises, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of a stellar online reputation and leverage the benefits of online reviews to generate more sales for your business.
Are you struggling to maintain a positive online reputation? Do you need a robust online reputation repair campaign? Rize is at your service. We offer best-in-class reputation repair services to help you recover from any PR crisis. Improve your online reputation and build a more trusted brand with Rize. Give our reputation management agency a call at 866-325-0303 or send us a message to book a free consultation session with us.