The days of consumers wandering aimlessly into establishments--whether it's barbershop, restaurants or drycleaner--unaware of the level of service to expect are over, thanks to the advent of online recommendations.

With services such as Yelp, Google, and the like, a quick run down of pretty much every business is at someone's fingertips and according to a study by BrightLocal, an SEO company, 85 percent of customers check online reviews before a sale. Though these services are an undeniably useful tool for getting more consumers, they can pose a risk: fake reviews. Whether its your competitor writing a nasty review of your customer service, or a user looking to get more clout with the service by falsly expanding their review roster, you have to be on the look out. 

A recent post on the Intuit Small Business Blog outlined a handful of tips to spot false reviews. Here are three things from the post to keep in mind:

Look into the username. The username listed with a review can be a solid giveaway for a fake review. When you click on a reviewer’s profile, you can usually see if there are any social media accounts associated with that username. If there are, the review is more likely authentic. A Google search of the username can also come in handy as paid reviewers will likely have written other reviews. Look for simialrities across reviews and any duplication.

Pay attention to style and message. Be wary of reviews that are either extremely negative or extremely positive--especially ones that lack a lot of details. Many exclamation points, capital letters and a lot of personal pronouns are also red flags. These can signal that a reviewer is overcompensating for not having actually tried the product or service. 

Keep your eyes open for marketing jargon. A lot of fake reviews will use language that isn’t colloquial or sounds like it could from a press release. Additionally, unatural repetition of the brand or product names can signal that it is not an authentic review as most consumers wouldn't incorporate those.

Published on: Dec 6, 2013