As online shopping increases, so does consumer wariness over fake product reviews. According to customer experience solutions company Uberall, roughly two-thirds of consumers are concerned about fake reviews — but most don’t know how to spot one.
Uberall’s first-of-its-kind report The State of Online Review Fraud (developed in conjunction with The Transparency Company) analyzed 4 million online reviews across Google, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor. The study revealed that Google, the most heavily-relied on site, had the highest percentage of fake reviews.
Majority of consumers consult reviews before buying
Remote work and online dependency have encouraged consumers to spend copious amounts of time in front of their computers. Fake positive reviews have risen in tandem, aiming to improve search results and attract more online shoppers. With finances tight this holiday season, businesses are angling to get their products and services in front of more potential customers.
According to the study’s partner, The Transparency Company — which researches online reviews and creates technology to ferret out the fraudulent ones — consumers are 15 times more likely to have a negative experience with businesses that have fake reviews. But while the majority of online shoppers suspect that some reviews are inauthentic, they can’t reliably spot fakes.
According to the report:
- 67% of consumers are concerned about review fraud
- Nearly 90% of online consumers read reviews before making a purchase
- Roughly 70% of consumers use Google reviews
Review fraud varies across websites and product categories
The Uberall/Transparency Company report identified fake reviews by utilizing a combination of natural language processing and machine learning. The report identified the following frequency of suspicious reviews by site:
- Google (10.7%)
- Yelp (7.1%)
- Tripadvisor (5.2%)
- Facebook (4.9%)
In addition, the report showed significant variation based on product category, as well as platform and business location:
- Moving companies (22.3%) had the highest percentage of fake reviews on Google, while pharmacies (1.4%) had the lowest.
- Locksmiths (14.4%) had the highest percentage of fake reviews on Yelp, while pharmacies (0.8%) had the lowest.
- The Miami-Ft Lauderdale metro area (9.7%) had the highest fraud review percentage; Boston (3.9%) had the lowest.
The report also included recommendations for curbing fraud, including a combination of more rigorous verification of reviews and a process that would allow consumers to flag suspicious reviews.
Consumers who wish to learn more about a business before purchasing its products can pull a Transparency Report.
Methodology: Uberall worked with The Transparency Company to analyze 4 million reviews of local businesses on Google, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor. The report includes reviews across 19 popular local business categories, as well as top U.S. metro markets.