Online reviews are the cornerstone of online reputation, and businesses are working harder than ever to increase review volume across many sites. And customers are writing more reviews too. The latest Birdeye study shows that online review volume increased by 5% in 2023 compared to the previous year.

However, as every outreach strategy does, focusing on online reviews to boost online reputation has a few challenges, particularly concerning fake and spam reviews. This makes some business owners wary of actively seeking online reviews, especially on Google, due to concerns about their authenticity.

This blog post contains an overview of Google review policies to ascertain if Google reviews are reliable and how to spot and handle fake reviews on your Google Business Profile.

Google’s stance on unreliable reviews

Google’s automated systems use hundreds of cues to detect unreliable reviews, such as a shift in review patterns on a business and implausible reviewer behavior. Reviews are automatically processed so that they can remove inappropriate content like fake reviews or spam. Google may take down any content which has been flagged under Google policies if necessary for compliance with company obligations but also legal duty as well. 

How to detect unreliable reviews

With the rise of Google reviews, it’s important to ensure accuracy. In fact, a recent Birdeye study shows that 92% of customers read atleast two reviews before making a purchase and over 50% of customers read five or more reviews. Unfortunately, some unreliable reviews are more difficult to detect than others. For example, the customer profile might not match your records because it was purchased for someone else as a gift or paid with another form of payment. Here are some examples of common ways to detect if a google review is reliable. 

  • Your customer database doesn’t match up with the reviewer details
  • Impersonal avatar
  • Generic comments in the review
  • Reviewer has authored other suspicious reviews
  • Review timeline doesn’t add up
  • No elaboration or comment about the reviewer’s experience when prompted 
  • Information that appears false 
  • The reviewer has not reviewed other businesses 
  • Bad grammar/misspellings in review
  • Lacks complexity of words describing their experience

Customers are paying attention to how you respond

As google customer reviews take center stage of how your business is positioned, customers are aware of and evaluate reviews for authenticity, they will quickly recognize when a business takes notice. Red flags can be detected not only by you but by your customers as well. It’s important to look at what has been said and how an individual is saying it – do they seem genuine? Are Google reviews reliable? Here’s an example of an unreliable retail review and how to respond.

Are Google reviews reliable

Response example to elicit more information:

Are Google reviews reliable

The black market of unreliable reviews

While there are certainly enough good and honest reviewers, there are also malicious users and bots. There are many ways to buy fake customer reviews. Some businesses will pay for a good review and buy fake customer reviews. In fact, there’s a black market online where people offer to write fake reviews for monetary value. This is considered spamming by Google. According to a recent study by World Economic Forum, the economic impact, the direct influence of fake online reviews on global online spending is $152 billion. The same study indicates the presence of fake reviews causes a loss of confidence. In fact, 85% of consumers believe the reviews they read were “sometimes or often fake.

Promoting reliable reviews will help your business

Having positive reviews is a great way to give your business instant social proof and show you’re legitimate. Potential consumers read testimonials. Consider placing positive reviews in your marketing campaigns, making your top-rated and happy customers your spokesperson. 

What to do if you suspect an unreliable review

You might be wondering how to delete a google review on your own, and the answer is you really don’t have that authority. If there is an unreliable review and it looks suspicious, you’ll need to contact Google so they can determine whether or not you have grounds to remove the bad review. To expedite the matter, you can also reach out to Google Business Profile via Twitter (@GoogleMyBiz). Make sure that you do it from your business account. Here are the steps you can take. 

Are Google reviews reliable

Frequently asked questions : Are Google reviews reliable?

Are Google reviews credible?

Yes, Google reviews are credible. Google reviews with higher ratings will bring in new customers and boost your search ranking even higher. 

Can Google detect fake reviews?

Google has an automated system that uses hundreds of cues to detect fake reviews, but some might be missed. You can take several steps to report fake reviews on Google if you suspect that is the case.

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