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How To Deal With Fake Online Reviews

Fake reviews affect businesses of all sizes. 

Some businesses are victims of their own greed, leading them to the dangerous {and unethical) habit of writing false reviews on their online profiles. Other businesses become victims to bitter customers, ex-employees, and competitors who go after other’s online reputation without scruples.

Popular businesses in all categories are always at risk of receiving fake online reviews, most malicious in nature. Once the review is online, it can cause significant damage to a brand reputation as potential customers are exposed to false information, and question the capacity of the business venue to deliver quality goods and services.

When a business is on the receiving end of potentially libelous and fake reviews, it is easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and reply, which can potentially affect a business for longer than a negative review on it’s own.

The way a business deals with fake online reviews says a lot about the character of its leaders. As a result, potential customers may want to engage with the brand depending on how it responds to online reviews, and not solely on the negative reviews themselves, which is why it is supremely important to have a brand reputation strategy in place.

Don’t Ignore Fake Reviews

If a local competitor has their heart set on damaging your brand reputation, their efforts will be relentless. The longer you wait to take corrective action, the higher the likelihood of getting an avalanche of negative fake reviews.

If you are certain you are under attack, then there are a variety of strategies you can embrace to reduce the impact of the attack, but they all require immediate action. Get the ball rolling, and gather all the facts so you can rectify the issue as soon as possible and go back to growing your brand reputation by securing positive, truthful reviews from your most loyal customers.

Don’t Reciprocate

Now that you are certain a competitor or ex-employee is out to damage your online reputation, don’t let your anger get the best of you. In the midst of the moment, it may be tempting to go in and give your competitor a taste of their own medicine, but by doing so, you are not solving the problem, and you could potentially end up in a great deal of trouble.

If your business is strong and honest, then the consistent flow of positive reviews will soon wash away any false, negative feedback that may be blemishing your brand reputation. It is not your place to lower your ethical standards simply because a competitor has decided to play dirty. Don’t do it.

Don’t Assume a Review Is Fake Without Doing Your Research

Don’t allow your pride to blind you from the realities of business. If you receive a negative review, making the quick assumption that it is false is not a good policy.

If you become suspicious when reviewing the content of a consumer review, take the time to do research in order to make sure you are in fact dealing with a fake one.

Fake reviews can often be identified by a variety of factors that include the heavy use of industry lingo, viciousness in tone, and the weak nature of the profile submitting the review. Finally, one big clue is when a customer who leaves a negative and potentially false review on your profile has also left a highly inflated, positive review on the profile of a competitor.

Go do your homework and make sure you’re dealing with a fake review before you get your knickers in a twist.

Don’t Respond Aggressively or Inappropriately

When you are angry, you are often unable to think with clarity, and you may react in a way that’s less than professional.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to explode in anger and post a response that you will later regret. Make it a point to commit to maintaining your professional image by showing restraint in the tone and nature of your response.

If you decide to respond to a fake review after flagging it, then make your response one that helps other potential customers side with you and be willing to engage in future business as a result of your level of customer commitment and professionalism. Profanity, aggressive words, threats, and name-calling have no place on public third-party review sites.

Don’t Threaten Legal Action in Your Response

Your review response is not so much for the reviewer. Each time you respond, you are doing it to benefit a wider audience.

Threatening the reviewer with legal action does no good. After all, a review response is not the proper manner to serve a subpoena. If the impact of negative reviews has been such that it has affected your profitability, and you believe there are legal grounds to go after those that submitted false reviews, then by all means do so; but do it offline.

Don’t Forget to Flag the Review

Once you are pretty certain that a review is false and malicious, go ahead and flag it. Most popular review sites use the flagging system to facilitate the escalation of content from business owners or the public in general.

Be ready to present your case informally to the moderator in charge, and hope for the best, which is most often the removal of the false review. 

Don’t Take Revenge of Any Type

If you are dealing with fake negative reviews, we know that you are angry and frustrated. Don’t allow your feelings to guide your actions.

Taking revenge in ways that make your competitor feel threatened, conducting vandalism, or physically attacking your competitors or ex-employees can land you in a ton of trouble, and those actions often result in very severe

Next up, learn 10 Savvy Ways You Can Spot Fake Reviews 

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.

Discussion

  1. Jeremy Rivera

    Now if we could just definitively handle fake comments!

    But seriously, responding in anger is a great way…to make a bad situation even worse!

    Reply
    • Brian Sparker

      We agree Jeremy, fake comments (and trackback spam) is a HUGE time-waster. Thanks for being real!

      Reply
  2. Almira Keefe

    I would report them to authorities. Quietly…

    Reply
  3. Arnoldi

    Sometimes you just have to act aggressively…I mean, there’s somebody out there who is trying to destroy your business, what else am I supposed to do?
    By the way, I really don’t get the people who write fake reviews, especially the other companies that do the same business as I do – if we’re constantly trying to destroy each other, than somebody else is going to come and take our customers, why wouldn’t we instead try to teach each other new things that one of us doesn’t know…
    There’s plenty of fish in the sea, don’t worry guys, you’re not going to run out of business..There’s no need for fake reviews.

    Reply
  4. Arnoldi

    I really don’t get the people who post fake reviews, especially not the other companies who do the same business as I.
    If we’re constantly trying to destroy our businesses, than somebody else will come and take our customers. Instead, why don’t we try to teach each other new things that one of us may not know about.
    There’s plenty of fish in the sea, don’t worry guys, you’re not going to run out of business, there’s no need for fake reviews…That’s so childish.

    Reply
  5. Patrick R

    I can a fake comment when I see it. Believe me!

    Reply
    • Patrick R

      *know

      Reply
    • FirenzeZ

      True, it’s really easy to spot a liar.

      Reply
      • Paula

        Sometimes I think a review is fake due to typos and poor grammar, but I can never be sure.

        Reply
  6. Bowie

    So, if I understood correctly – your advice is to simply – stay zen about it?! So, someone is going out of their way to destroy my business reputation and I should stay zen about it? Hmm, interesting. My mom also used to say that I shouldn’t pick on those who are being mean to me, but I’ve learned that in life it’s always better to respond to bullies, than to go all Gandhi on them 😀

    Reply
    • KrisM77

      Responding rudely can make you look unprofessional.

      Reply
  7. Sanjay

    fake reviews are not that easy to spot. If they are done by a professional it is really hard to be noticed. Also, there are more and more 2-3 star reviews that are fake. It is much harder to recognize a 2-3 star fake review then a 1 star. Those reviews can also hurt your business and make your overall review grade fall down constantly.

    Reply
  8. Tim Walters

    Fake reviews are really lame. You have to be pathetic to write lame fake reviews. Don’t you have anything better to do?

    Reply
  9. nealcal

    I feel kind of silly, but it never occurred to me that negative reviews might actually be fake reviews posted by competitors.

    Reply
  10. Baseer Hannan

    It’s really hard to cool down and respond to fake review. it’s much easier ignore them.

    Reply

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