7 Steps for Avoiding Fake Reviews When Shopping Online

Mark Preston

Reviews are an excellent way to learn more about a product or service and make an informed purchase decision. Knowing what pleased or let other customers down is a good starting point to finding out which brands are reliable and worthy of your interest and money.

However, since everyone can write and post reviews and there is often not much control over this feedback, some companies may profit. To boost their reputation and sales, they use fake reviews to praise their products and even make false claims.

How can you avoid fake reviews and make sure the opinions you count on before purchasing a product are genuine? Read this guide and learn seven steps for avoiding fake reviews when shopping online.

1. Be Wary of Excessive Praise

When you start reading reviews, always pay attention to the language the reviewer uses. It’s normal to show some sentiment toward the reviewed product or service. Otherwise, why would someone write a review in the first place? Don’t dismiss a review just because it depicts a product in a positive light. However, be skeptical when you see someone overreacting and using excessively positive remarks.

Use common sense and think about how natural the review sounds. Genuine reviews usually use moderate language. So, if you come across one that’s overwhelmingly positive, you might want to take it with a pinch of salt. The same goes for extremely negative reviews. Some companies might post those to discredit their competitors.

2. Don’t Rely on Ratings Alone

Sure, reading reviews can take a lot of time. The internet is flooded with them. Once you start browsing and reading, you might end up spending hours on this. Yet, doing it is safer than not reading any reviews at all and simply relying on ratings.

Ratings are the result of customers’ reviews but learning precisely what made people post reviews can give you precious insights into a product. Take time to read a few reviews, it will enable you to have reasonable expectations regarding the product you’re about to purchase. Simply checking out ratings doesn’t offer that much insight.

3. Look for Details About the Reviewer

Another way to spot a fake review is by looking at the author’s profile. This is not necessarily a rule, since new profiles constantly emerge on eCommerce websites. However, if a shady review is written by someone who has only recently joined the platform, there are higher chances for it to be fake.

A red flag can also be a profile with no personal details. Fake reviews are often linked to this type of profiles because whoever posts them doesn’t want to share information about their identity or waste time inventing one. The purpose is just to get the content posted on the website to lure people into buying a product or deter them from doing so.

4. Look for Customer Feedback in Multiple Sources

If you want to be thorough in your research, look for feedback in multiple sources. If you want to buy something on Amazon, read some of the reviews you can find there, but also look for the same product on other platforms to see what other customers have to say about it. Ideally, you can also find some testimonials on YouTube, for example. This not only offers more details on how a product works but can also show other people actually using it.

5. See How Old the Company Is

It usually takes some time for a new company to enjoy success, especially on marketplaces such as Amazon where there are multiple sellers in the same niche. To stand out, a company obviously needs to offer quality products. But even if it does, gathering the necessary number of reviews to catch people’s attention doesn’t happen overnight. So, if a new company has an unusually large number of reviews or only positive reviews, you might find yourself reading fake feedback.

There are different ways to check out if a company is new or see for how long it has been in business. The most reliable one is to look for its name online in public registers to see when it was founded. If the company has a website, you should also find this information there.

Moreover, be skeptical if you see an unreasonably large number of reviews for a basic, no-name product, which could also indicate the feedback is not authentic.

6. Use Tools to Detect Fake Reviews

Tools such as Fakespot and ReviewMeta were designed to help detect fake reviews. They rely on different algorithms that analyze reviews’ trustworthiness from a linguistic perspective and not only. These tools scrutinize reviews by looking for certain keywords or phrases that are usually present in fake ones. Repetitive terminology or an unusually high number of reviews posted in a short period of time are other warning signs these apps identify.

To determine how genuine reviews are, these tools also look at the reviewers’ profiles. Analyzing their authenticity also plays an important part in flagging fake reviews. However, these apps alone can’t be 100% accurate as they don’t rely on human judgment and feeling. While it’s worth equipping yourself with one of these, it’s also important to use common sense and your intuition while judging a product by its reviews.

7. Rely on Experts’ Opinion

Another way to avoid fake reviews while shopping online is to let a team of experienced people do the product research and review analysis for you. Product comparison websites do this. They deploy advanced algorithms to analyze a large variety of products in different niches and offer the best recommendations. One of the main aspects they take into account while putting together recommendation lists is precisely product reviews. The teams behind these websites analyze products’ trustworthiness based on the authenticity of their reviews, among other criteria.

Shopping online is convenient and offers plenty of product choices, alongside discounts and different customer loyalty perks. To make sure you choose trustworthy retailers, remember the steps above when checking out customer reviews.