Not all reviews are honest or authentic.
Amazon have recently cracked down on these so-called fake reviews to make their community reliable and safe for shoppers. However, the problem still persists.
Whether for financial gain, exchange for a discount or free product, or just to drop the competition’s ratings, fake reviews continue to plague the online marketplace.
But how can you tell if a review was written to steer the readers in the wrong direction?
Learn to Spot Red Flags
First, learn to identify the red flags of written reviews.
Length & Tone
Is the length of the review shorter than the rest? In some cases, fake reviewers simply hit the ‘one-star’ button, post a short comment, and move on.
Most honest reviewers take the time to provide a thorough review of their experience with the product. Typically, if the review has fewer than 4 lines and a big five-star rating, it’s a red flag.
In terms of tone, the review may be vague and not specifically identify what they loved about the product. Technical details and specifications may be overlooked as well. Generalities can be a good sign the review is indeed a fake.
Review the Reviewer
On Amazon, it’s a bit tricky to review the reviewer, but you can click on their name and investigate what other reviews they have left. Are they gushing over every product they review? Are they more detailed in their negative reviews? Ask yourself questions before deciding.
Quality reviews are objective and summarize their experience with product features. However, agenda-based reviews overlook the details and skip right to the star rating.
Verified purchase reviews also offer an added layer of protection from fake reviews. Amazon offers an orange ‘verified purchase’ badge for those who bought the item directly from an Amazon store. But just because they’re verified doesn’t mean they didn’t get paid to write the review.
While verified purchases are a good thing, users with multiple reviews in a short time are often fake. This is particularly true if the products they’re reviewing are completely unrelated. If they’ve left multiple five-star reviews within the past two weeks, it might be time to second guess their opinion.
Of course, even if a reviewer is verified, leaves a detailed review, and doesn’t over hype or under sell the product, they could still be dishonest. Alternatively, if they’ve left a short and to the point review, it doesn’t mean it is a fake review.
There’s another way to spot fake reviews on Amazon: Review Analysis.
Use Fakespot or ReviewMeta
There are two big websites that offer a free analysis of Amazon product reviews: Fakespot and ReviewMeta.
Fakespot is 100% free to use and helps you sort out the fake from the honest. It’s simple to use too, all you must do is copy and paste the product page link and click “analyze.”
You can also download its browser extensions for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome if you’d like. The browser version lets you simply click on the Fakespot icon on the toolbar to analyze reviews. The browser then automatically analyzes the reviews for you. You can also get it on the go with their Android and iOS apps.
Fakespot analyzes spelling, grammar, number of reviews, mismatched dates, purchasing patterns and a variety of other red flags that indicate suspicious activity.
Once the analysis is through, Fakespot offers a letter grade based on the entire number of reviews a product had and the number of unreliable or suspicious reviews.
However, this is where it gets tricky. Fakespot uses an A to F rating, and even if just 57 percent of the reviews were considered unreliable, it will get an F. Despite this, the product might not be bad in and of itself.
Up next is ReviewMeta.
ReviewMeta takes a different approach than Fakespot, so it’s a good idea to use both. Developer Tommy Noonan says that ReviewMeta uses the same type of functionality as Fakespot,(you copy and paste the product link page and can use a browser extension) but ReviewMeta actually reduces the weight of reviews deemed ‘unreliable’ and gives you an adjusted rating.
So instead of a letter grade, ReviewMeta gives you what the average Amazon rating could be if the questionable reviews weren’t a part of the lineup.
What is surprising is that these two tools frequently come up with different conclusions about the same reviews. According to Ming Ooi, the co-founder of Fakespot, they find about 40 percent of Amazon reviews to be unreliable.
The question is, where does that leave people who like you who want to know whether or not to trust Amazon reviews?
At the end of the day, Amazon is still perfecting its user rating systems. Verified purchase reviews are a good place to start, and Amazon is working on new strategies to add weight to those verified reviews by limiting how many non-verified reviews users can leave each week.
But ultimately it is critical thinking skills you must rely on. Analyze the data as you see it.