Online reviews are an important part of the buying cycle for most consumers these days – but a negative review, let alone a fake negative review, can really hurt a business or nonprofit. This case study outlines a situation that we at DeWinter Marketing & PR encountered, with added information about how to deal with fake negative reviews. Most consumers are not going to do the due diligence required to determine if a review is legitimate or not. So, it’s even more important for businesses and non-profits to determine which negative reviews are fake – and take the measures to get those reviews removed.
What Is A Fake Negative Review?
A fake negative review occurs when someone writes and posts a negative review of your company or nonprofit, or your products and services – and you’ve never had that reviewer as a customer.
What Are The Signs Of A Fake Negative Review?
The first and most obvious sign of a fake negative review is when you and your company have never had any contact with the person posting the review – and they’ve never purchased your product or service.
When your organization is so large that you can’t track each review and don’t know if you’ve ever encountered the reviewer, here are some additional signs that might indicate the negative review is fake:
- Reviewers with generic names that prevents you from tracking who they are
Reviewers who are so-called “professional” reviewers
Reviewers who post without a photo
Reviewers with funky or whimsical names that are not a first name / last name
Reviewers who’ve posted vague negative details about your organization, product, or service
DID YOU KNOW:
A recent study from the Washington Post found that more than half of Amazon reviews for products in categories such as tech or weight-loss remedies are likely untrustworthy.
Why Is It Important To Address Fake Negative Reviews?
Negative reviews can really hurt your company, either in reputation or in sales. The numbers don’t lie. A whopping 97% of consumers who were surveyed say they consult online product reviews before buying a product or service.
Case Study: A Fake Negative Review of DeWinter Marketing & PR in Google Reviews Successfully Removed
In recent months, DeWinter Marketing & PR found a posting of a negative 1-star review from a “professional” reviewer with the username: ILIKEPIZZA69. The review was a terrible review of our company and our character – and we have never worked with, or encountered, this person.
Once we found the fake negative review, we immediately conducted research on ILIKEPIZZA69. We found is ILIKEPIZZA69 was a “professional” reviewer who was earning points from Google for posting reviews. Perhaps ILIKEPIZZA69 was under pressure to post more reviews as part of her agreement with Google – but there was no reason to trash anyone’s company just to get some points from Google’s review program.
Once we knew for sure that the negative review was fake, we kicked it into gear and took action to get the review removed and deleted.
The Top Actions To Take To Handle Fake Negative Reviews
The first step for any business or nonprofit is to consistently monitor what’s being said about your organization, products, and services out there in the internet “ethers.”
Do this by open a Chrome browser. LEFT CLICK on the FILE menu at the top of the screen, and then LEFT CLICK on the NEW INCOGNITO WINDOW button in the drop-down menu. When you open an “incognito” window, this tells the Google algorithm that you want to see search results that are NOT based on your previous search history. This gives you a broader scope of seeing what’s being said about your organization products or services.
Then start looking for reviews, and negative reviews. You may find reviews from Google Reviews, Yelp, or Glassdoor.com, the website where employees can anonymously post reviews of their employers.
If you find reviews, check them carefully to determine if they are legitimate. If the reviews are false, first, take a deep breath & calm down.
While many online sources recommend apologizing to people posting negative reviews, I do not recommend apologizing when a review is completely fake.
First, post a response to the negative review that includes the facts. Here’s an example:
“Hey, ILIKEPIZZA69, we think there’s been a mistake. We don’t know you. We’ve never worked with you.”
This is what we posted for the fake negative review on Google.
After publicly setting the record straight with a response to the fake negative post, we then followed the protocols for reporting a fake review to Google. Here’s how to do that:
- Do a Google search on your company.
- Look at your Google business profile on the right side of the screen.
- Under the REVIEWS section, scroll through and review all reviews.
- If you find a Google review that is fake, select that review.
- On the right-hand side of the review, click on the 3 dots.
- Then Left-click on the “FLAG AS INAPPROPRIATE’ option.
- The selected fake negative review will be flagged and reviewed by Google.
In our case, the Google reviews team checked it and saw our response that we didn’t know the person and had never worked with them. Within a couple of days, the fake negative review of our agency was removed.
Why Do People Post Fake Negative Reviews?
There are a number of reasons why people post fake negative reviews:
1) They’re trying to trash your company, products, or services to help a competitor.
2) They want to gain more points from Google by posting negative reviews.
3) They derive a sense of power from trashing companies.
The bottom line is that businesses & non-profits should be consistently checking for reviews, and fake negative reviews on a monthly basis. You won’t catch all of them unless you’re using some sort of expensive marketing tool. But if you consistently watch for reviews, you can learn from the legitimate reviews, and you can better protect your reputation by working to get fake negative reviews removed.
Need help with how to deal with fake negative reviews? Contact DeWinter Marketing & PR for assistance.