Companies of all kinds are increasingly turning to sites with online business reviews as a way to drum up new business. After all, what could be better than prominently displaying positive customer feedback that gives potential customers confidence in your company? Unfortunately, some businesses aren’t so easily convinced.
Whether you’re a small local business or an online seller with global reach, there’s always the risk of negative reviews being posted on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business.
Whether they’re based in reality or simply the result of personal vendettas, these reviews can hurt your company’s reputation and put future customers at risk. If you want to stay one step ahead of competitors when it comes to securing positive online reviews for your company, read on for our list of the top five tips for keeping an eye out for red flags when viewing third-party business review sites.
Always Look for Red Flags
When you’re browsing reviews for a business, you’re likely to see a few positive reviews that stick out. It can be easy to think, “This is obviously fake,” or, “This is obviously real,” but that’s not always the case. There are a few key red flags you should always be on the lookout for when reading online business reviews. These include:
– Reviews that are obviously fake
– Reviews that use overly positive language
– Reviews that are too long or too short
– Reviews that are similar but written by different people fake reviews are typically easy to spot. They’re often overly positive and don’t include any useful information about the product or service being reviewed. Fakes reviews are most common on sites that allow users to leave reviews without logging in. It’s also easy to spot the fakes if you know what to look for. For example, if a review includes info that’s not available on the website, or if it praises the company to an extreme that seems too good to be true, it’s probably fake.
Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
You should never ignore negative reviews, even if you believe they are false. Instead, you should look for ways to respond to them and show potential customers that you’re paying attention. Most people who leave a review aren’t looking for a response, but some people do expect an explanation, especially if the review is particularly bad. If a review is likely legitimate, there’s a chance your company did something to upset the customer. In these cases, you’ll want to respond as quickly as possible to show the reviewer that you care. If the review contains any false information, you’ll want to respond to that too. Don’t be confrontational, but explain what happened and apologize for any errors. If the review is borderline, you can respond by asking the customer to call you to discuss the situation further.
Check the Date
If you’re investigating a negative review, you’ll want to look at the date it was posted. If it’s within the last 30 days, there’s a decent chance the review is legitimate and you should take action. If the review is more than 30 days old, you can be more confident that it’s false or exaggerated.
Still, you should be sure it’s not based in fact before you delete or ignore it. Be careful not to dismiss all long-overdue reviews, especially if the complaint is valid. If a customer posts a review that’s still relevant, you should respond even if it’s been a long time since they left it.
Be Careful of Outlier Reviews
When you look at a group of reviews on a site like Yelp or TripAdvisor, you should pay attention to the average score, not necessarily the most extreme reviews. However, you should still take extreme reviews seriously. If you see one or two reviews that are significantly more extreme than the rest, they could be outliers.
These may be fakes, or they could be reviews left by people who had a bad experience and weren’t satisfied with your company’s response. However, if a review is truly unusual, there’s a chance it’s legitimate. Be careful not to dismiss legitimate but extreme reviews, even if they’re positive. If a review goes above and beyond to praise your company, it could be an outlier. Again, this is where responding to the review can come in handy.
Find Out Who’s Behind the Review
If you suspect that a review is fake or that it’s simply an outlier, you should try to find out who posted it. To do this, browse to the review and click the name of the reviewer. This will take you to their profile page, where you should be able to see their name, their email address, and the other reviews they’ve posted.
If you see a review that seems suspicious, look up the reviewer and see if there are any obvious red flags. If you’re a large company that receives lots of positive reviews, you may occasionally find that someone is posting fake reviews in an attempt to get you to respond. If you’re getting tons of emails from people asking for free products or money, you’re probably dealing with a fake reviewer.
Online reviews can be an invaluable source of new business, but only if you know how to read them properly. Remember, fake reviews are more common than you might think, and it’s up to you to identify them before they hurt your company’s reputation.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re reading reviews correctly. Always look for red flags, don’t ignore negative reviews, check the date, be careful of outlier reviews, and find out who’s behind the review. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to read reviews like a pro and use them to your advantage.