Fake reviews are a real and growing problem for multi-location businesses that rely on third-party review sites to attract customers. More than 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year, according to BrightLocal.
Especially in service-based industries, marketers must remain vigilant of fake reviews across a growing number of platforms. And they must know how to get them removed.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to spot fake reviews, how to respond, and how to remove fake reviews on the most popular websites.
Monitoring for Fake Reviews
Monitoring reviews for fake, vulgar, irrelevant or spam comments can protect your online reputation and avoid a PR crisis.
Many fake reviews are easy to spot, but they’re getting more complex. Review monitoring technology can flag potentially harmful reviews across multiple platforms and alert employees for swift action. With your flagged reviews collected, you can start identifying what’s fraudulent.
Start by taking these steps to spot fake online reviews:
- Examine the commenter’s name and image.
- See if the reviewer leaves feedback for other businesses.
- See how frequently they leave reviews.
If the user has no other reviews or seems to constantly boast about a specific competitor, there’s a better chance the review is fake.
Moreover, according to MIT research, deceptive reviews are more likely to use words that aren’t long or complex. They also tend to lack detail and use repeated exclamation points such as “!!!”.
Removing Fake Reviews
Most major review platforms have a process to remove reviews that violate their policies. But your business often must manually report suspicious reviews before a platform takes it down.
To protect your brand from spam, vulgarity or attacks on your reputation, you should know each platform’s rules and mediation processes.
Google and Facebook are generally the most popular review sites for multi-location businesses. For healthcare organizations, Vitals and Healthgrades are also crucial for review monitoring.
Here are ways to report or remove fake reviews on those platforms:
Every marketer’s top review management priority, Google, outlines 10 types of restricted content that apply to all posts and comments, including reviews.
Google’s detection algorithm will automatically remove reviews in those categories. But other fraudulent reviews are tougher for the search engine to identify.
Google Reviews doesn’t allow businesses to delete a review – you must use its formal reviewal process. The company created review policies which help you in flagging fake reviews.
This process can take a little while, so it’s crucial to spot and flag Google Reviews quickly. With reputation monitoring solutions like Binary Fountain, you can receive alerts about new reviews and report them without visiting each site.
Social media is fraught with fraudulent comments. An estimated 55,000 fake reviews are generated each month on Facebook.
Like Google, Facebook enforces community standards for content and reviews restricted from the platform. But it usually won’t automatically remove inappropriate or untrue reviews. Your brand must report these types of content to Facebook directly.
To report a fake review or recommendation on the platform:
- Click the ellipsis icon in the top-right corner.
- Click “Find support or report.”
- Follow the instructions and await a response from Facebook.
If Facebook deems the review fake or egregious, it may still take a few days to remove it. It is not recommended that you block reviews on Facebook, as this will harm your online presence and separate your brand from the community.
Healthgrades has a set of review policies that restricts content that is inauthentic, vulgar, abusive or promotional.
To remove fake and irrelevant patient reviews from Healthgrades.com, you can report them to the site in two ways.
First, flag the review that you think violates Healthgrades’ content policy. You will be asked to enter a reason for flagging the review and provide your email. Healthgrades will then review the comment and decide on next steps.
Doctor reviews on Vitals are restricted by a policy similar to Healthgrades. The reporting process is similar as well. Vitals allows businesses to report reviews to the site along with reasons why the review should be removed.
- Are written for someone else
- Are written by an employee
- Contain third-party names or promotions
- Contain sexually explicit content
- Harass, threaten, abuse, or harm
To report a review and request its deletion, click “Report Abuse” next to the review. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a website form.
Responding to Fake Reviews
It’s vital to remove reviews that are fake, vulgar or spam. But it’s just as important to respond to the fake review.
Responding to reviews earns consumer trust because it shows that you engage with all types of feedback. Meanwhile, review response speed and frequency are local SEO ranking factors. That menas that you may simply need to reply to a fake comment as if it were real, regardless.
Just like responding to a negative review, whether it’s true or false, demonstrate a willingness to fix the issue. Further, invite the reviewer to contact you offline and start the service recovery process.
The amount of time and resources pouring into fake review generation indicates just how valuable reviews are to the consumer decision-making process. To capture that value, you need to simultaneously monitor negative customer feedback and generate new, positive ratings and reviews.
Binary Fountain’s reputation management platform can alert you to new reviews, screen them for spam and offensive language, and let you respond – all from one dashboard. We can also run automated mobile testimonial campaigns that generate authentic reviews from real customers.
Schedule a free, 30-minute demo to find out more.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist