Identifying and Managing Fake Google Reviews [2024]

24 Nov 2023 Last updated: 15 Jan 2024 By Simeon Prokopov

Online customer reviews hold tremendous power in influencing consumer decisions. However, not all reviews are genuine. Fake Google reviews can significantly impact a business’s reputation, leading to a loss of trust among potential customers. Understanding how to spot and address these fraudulent reviews is crucial in maintaining a positive online presence.

Why Spotting Fake Google Reviews Matters

Customer reviews serve as a critical aspect of a business’s online presence. They act as a barometer, offering insights into customer satisfaction and aiding prospective clients in making informed decisions. However, the rise of fake reviews poses a substantial threat to this ecosystem.

Phone with stickers on the sides saying Real and Fake

According to BrightLocal, a staggering 62% of consumers believe they’ve encountered fake customer reviews within the past year. This alarming statistic highlights the prevalence of this issue and the necessity for businesses and tech giants to take proactive measures.

First Global Coalition for Trusted Reviews

Last month, Amazon, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Glassdoor, Tripadvisor, and Trustpilot announced they have teamed up to launch the global Coalition for Trusted Reviews, a cross-industry collaboration committed to protecting access to trustworthy consumer reviews worldwide.

The trust that consumers and partners have in our platforms and businesses is a top priority for the members of this coalition, all of whom agreed to join together to fight fake review content on the Internet. To further maintain the credibility and authenticity of reviews on our platforms, we aim to make it increasingly difficult for fraudulent actors who try to deceive our customers to operate online.

Becky Foley, Vice President, Trust & Safety, Tripadvisor, Inc.

How Google Maps Protects Against Fake Content

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In a recent blog post, Google has shared three new ways it prevents policy-violating content from being submitted:

Real-Time Monitoring and Rapid Response

Google actively monitors contributions for abnormal patterns. When suspicious activity is detected, swift action is taken, such as removing policy-violating content and temporarily disabling new contributions. For instance, when a local bar in Missouri experienced an influx of 1-star reviews, Google temporarily disabled the rating function, removed violating reviews, and investigated the accounts responsible.

Proactive Protection During Sensitive Periods

Ahead of anticipated surges in irrelevant or misleading content, Google proactively shields locations, particularly during sensitive times like elections. For instance, during U.S. elections, they limited the ability to suggest edits to certain factual information (like addresses or phone numbers) for locations such as polling stations, aiming to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Implementation of Long-Term Safeguards

For places consistently receiving unhelpful, harmful, or off-topic contributions, Google applies enduring protections. This includes locations like police stations or prisons, where user contributions might be restricted, limited, or entirely blocked based on their evaluated usefulness. Users attempting to contribute to these restricted places are informed about the limitations and directed to learn more about Google’s policies. Despite these limitations, essential information about such places, like their address and contact details, remains accessible to users.

How to Detect Fake Google Reviews

Identifying these deceptive reviews requires a keen eye for details. Here are some key indicators to help distinguish fake reviews from genuine ones:

1. Pay Attention to Review Details

Evaluate the specifics mentioned in the review. Fake reviews often include irrelevant information or focus on personal anecdotes rather than the actual experience with the business.

2. Complexity of Language Used

Deceptive reviews tend to utilize simpler language. Unlike genuine reviews that may contain more nuanced vocabulary, fake ones aim to fabricate a story using easily understandable terms.

3. Usage of Exclamation Points

Fake reviews often exhibit an excessive use of exclamation points to emphasize emotions. Genuine reviews, on the other hand, concentrate on detailing experiences rather than emphasizing feelings.

4. Reviewer’s Profile Examination

Check the reviewer’s name and profile picture for authenticity. Fake reviewers often create accounts solely for the purpose of leaving deceptive feedback.

5. Review Frequency and Consistency

Assess the frequency of reviews left by the user. Paid reviewers tend to submit multiple reviews within a short period, raising suspicion about the authenticity of their feedback.

Check out the Fake Review YouTube channel for additional tips on how to detect fake reviews:

Removing Fake Google Reviews

Once a suspicious review is identified, taking appropriate action is essential. Google offers a formal process for reporting and potentially removing these reviews:

Steps to Remove Fake Google Reviews on Your Profile

  1. Determine if the review is indeed fake or violates Google’s review policies.
  2. Log into your Google Business Profile to manage your business’s reviews.
  3. Locate and access the reviews tab to view all submitted reviews for your business.
  4. Identify the review in question and flag it as inappropriate using Google’s provided options.
  5. Provide additional details through a follow-up survey to support your request.
  6. Irrespective of review authenticity, responding to reviews displays proactive engagement and excellent customer service.

Alternatively, use Google’s review removal tool to report reviews for removal or check on the status of reviews you’ve already reported.

What if you notice your reviews being copied to other Google Business Profiles?

Should you discover your reviews duplicated across various Google Business Profiles, it’s important to note that fabricated reviews aren’t solely confined to your own profile. An instance of fraudulent reviews occurs when your authentic feedback is replicated on other business profiles within the Google ecosystem. Regrettably, certain unscrupulous marketing agencies offer such services.

In this scenario, it’s advisable to initiate contact with the concerned business, apprising them of the situation and requesting the removal of the duplicated reviews. It’s also prudent to encourage them to address this issue with their marketing agency due to this unethical practice.

Should attempts to communicate with the business prove unfruitful, the possibility of legal recourse may need to be mentioned. Additionally, it’s essential to escalate the matter to Google, providing them with a comprehensive account of the situation for appropriate action.

Closing Remarks

Keeping phony Google reviews under control is essential to protecting and building your online reputation. At Agile Digital, we grasp the importance of maintaining a positive online presence, especially in the professional services sector.

Our comprehensive services, spanning SEO, PPC Management, Email Marketing, Web Design, and Website Development, are crafted to elevate the visibility and credibility of your professional services company.

Whether you operate a law firm, business consulting service, or technology provider, trust Agile Digital to assist you in effectively managing your online presence.

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Our commitment to excellence is underscored by our recognition as a Top Full Service Digital Company in the United Kingdom for 2024.

Connect with us today to explore how our agile solutions can benefit your professional services business.

Simeon Prokopov Simeon Prokopov

I am a managing partner at Agile Digital. A graduate of Modern Balkan history, I made a complete pivot in my career when, together with Juan Pineda, we founded a nearshore design and development studio Sofyma in 2009, followed by our digital agency Agile Digital several years later. Over time, I have worked on hundreds of digital projects from small startups to global brands. I enjoy writing in our Blog about topics I am actively involved in at work.