Google Reviews & How To Spot The Fakes

Google Reviews & How To Spot The Fakes

Google Reviews & How To Spot The Fakes

Episode 030

This week we take a look at Google Reviews – they’re a vital aspect of your local SEO efforts, but they’re also super important for building trust and credibility with your audience. We pull apart all things Google reviews and finish off with a chat about how to spot the fake reviews that are unfortunately all over the platform.

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Local Digital  0:04
It’s time for the SEO show where a couple of nerds talk search engine optimization, so you can learn to compete in Google and grow your business online. Now, here’s your host, Michael and Arthur.

Michael  0:23
Hello, and welcome to the SEO Show. I’m your host, Michael. And I’m joined as always by alpha. Hello, hello. Alright, let’s get into it. We got talking Google reviews, and how to spot the fakes. And this is a little bit of a what I say a little pet peeve of mine is the amount of fake reviews on Google reviews. So it’d be good talking about that today. But we’re basically going to walk through why reviews are important, you know, how to set your profile up, and then how to collect them, and then how to spot fakes. So let’s jump into it without any further ado. So Arthur, got a question for you. Shoot, why Google reviews, important.

Arthur  1:07
Google reviews are important. Well, I guess first and foremost, because the like a trust Maka trust symbol. So you know, if anyone’s researching your business, or restaurant or whatever it may be, they’re probably going to want to see some reviews. People I guess, now, in this day and age are just so accustomed to seeing reviews, much everywhere they look, that if you don’t have reviews set up, then it could be a deterrent. And sort of business isn’t legit, or it doesn’t exist. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, the review the site reviews are important because they play a huge part in driving customers to business. Yeah,

Michael  1:47
trust markers builds trust, it’s social proof. You know, fact the analogy. Not even an analogy. But you see a restaurant, it’s got a big line at the front and heaps of people in it. You think? Well, no, I’m gonna go eat at that restaurant one day

Arthur  1:59
Exactly. Like the one that we will pass. Japanese one. Oh, yeah. Normally has a massive one. Exactly. It makes you want to go there. I

Michael  2:06
think that ramen must be off the hook. Exactly. I think that about the Japanese place out there, I’d never been there. But I know I want to go there. Hmm, having Google reviews set up and showing with a good score is like the online version of that, so to speak. So it helps convert customers builds trust, social proof. It also gives you feedback, you can act on my if people are giving you constructive feedback in their reviews. You know, I like this, but I didn’t like that you can go and fix the stuff that people don’t like and improve your service, you know, acting on customer feedback. It’s yeah, very basic. And I

Arthur  2:43
think legitimate reviews that outline concerns like that. They just make it seem like real, for lack of better words. I mean, if you look at a profile that has just five star reviews, yeah, I guess you know, me personally, I kind of think it’s a bit sauce, you know? Yeah. How does someone that’s got hundreds of reviews all get five star reviews? I mean, it’s not impossible, but

Michael  3:05
very, very unlikely. Let’s let’s chat about that when we get to spotting fakies. Because I reckon it’s good to go into that one. A bit. Yeah, just people might leave you a bad review. Like, you know, people aren’t always constructive with their reviews, obviously. No, they can. Sometimes they’re just total dickheads, basically, and their reviews, but the ones that are constructive, you can put that into action, that feedback and improve your business. Yeah. But another one, from an SEO point of view, this is the SEO show, after all. It can help you improve your Google Maps rankings of presence and your local SEO. You know, it’s a ranking factor for local SEO purposes.

Arthur  3:46
So the more reviews you have, the better chance you have of showing in those first three results in the maps that are in the search results when you search for some local time. Yep. So it’s important that you have your business setup on Google to get reviews. Yeah, that’s also what we’re gonna say. Now we’re gonna go on the next point, I was just gonna say it’s also quite challenging to get reviews. Yes. Especially positive reviews. Yes. Because knowing from my experience, I know if I have a good experience, rarely do I go on and I leave a review. It’s certainly when I have a negative experience that I go and yeah, start rage typing. And yeah, being a keyboard warrior, but

Michael  4:27
that is a massive problem. Hmm. I’ve tried to leave good reviews now when a place I go to is good. Yeah, when I was in Melbourne recently found this little cafe was going there every morning. It had like off the hook, cheese and tomato toasties and

Arthur  4:42
ice to go through your users to enjoy doing that. Finding a profile and seeing the reviews. Yeah, well, look, I

Michael  4:47
saw that they’d been hammered like people blasting them for something about like they bid a bid in a pandemic and just being really unfair on business. Probably did it tough in a pandemic. So you know what I’m gonna leave a good review here like this place is Good. Unfortunately, most people don’t do that. No, um, you do need to try and encourage people to leave reviews for you, which we’ll get to in a sec. Yeah, moving on, like, where are these reviews being left? Like, how do you even control it? And where do you send the people? Well, basically, based on your Google My Business Profile, which is a profile, you can set up with Google, funnily enough, pretty much in the name. And it’s where you basically go in and enter all the details about your business. And it’s what controls what shows about your business in the maps. Also, if you search for your brand, the stuff that shows on the right hand side of the search results. So at a minimum, you know, you should be claiming your profile or setting it up, and just filling it all out. So stuff like naming your business, the category of your business,

Arthur  5:51
address, opening hours for number, description, all that stuff. Yeah,

Michael  5:56
yeah. You can put photos your team just make it look like an active Yeah, cared about thing, not something that’s just gathering dust. That’s all you really need to do to get it all set up. Yeah. That’s where you verify it, which can be the tricky part. Ah, yeah, I did forget about that. I don’t know how there’s like Google want to make sure that people aren’t just creating, listing after listing after listing, you know, for let’s say, You’re a locksmith and you want to have like a Google My Business in every suburb. You can’t because the way Google verify it is they will send you a postcard in the mail. Yeah. After you set your profile up with a code on it that you have to enter in these Bs postcards in notorious for not turning up or taking months to turn up, you know? Yeah, absolute pain. Very, very hit and miss. Yeah. And like it can get to the point where you might request it three or four times. And then eventually, they will verify it without you ever even having used the postcard. Yeah, because you just try over and over again. Exactly. But it is painful. But um, part of the process, unfortunately, let’s say you have your profile set up, it’s all good to go. How do you collect reviews?

Arthur  7:04
How do we collect reviews?

Michael  7:05
How does anyone collected reviews? Well, I

Arthur  7:08
guess there’s a number of ways you can do it. One, I guess strategy would be you know, if you have a happy client, or you know, if you have a happy client, sending them a link to the review, so we used, I guess URL shortening websites to shorten the actual link that points to the review, because it could be quite long. Just asking for, you know, if you had a good experience, just, you know, if you have a few moments, if you could leave us a five star review, or just a review, in general, doesn’t have to be super in depth, but you know, helps us get business and, yeah, yeah, so the point is, you’ve got to, you got to literally try to find, I actively try to encourage people to leave a review. So whether it is by emailing them or chatting to them,

Michael  7:52
it is quite hard, like, you got to ask people will say, Yeah, sure, I’ll do that. And then they don’t, and then you get to follow up. And then you don’t want to harass them, because it’s just a review, you know, yeah, we’ve always harass people. And we Yeah, it’s tough. We’ve been in business. Seven years, we’ve had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients. And we probably only have like 50 Something reviews or something in our Google profile.

Arthur  8:14
Yeah. People can be weird about it as well. They don’t want to leave.

Michael  8:18
Yeah, they’re named knowing who they work with.

Arthur  8:21
So we have a lot of clients that we could have potentially got reviews from that just either don’t want to be known or yeah, don’t want to be seen. So

Michael  8:28
yeah, they say I love your work. But like, No, I’m not gonna leave a review, which is fair, I guess it is what it is. But if you ask enough people, you will be able to get some of that point you made about the URL shorteners before now with Google or you can do it with a you if you click into so if you search your business in Google, and then on the right hand side, it will show like how many reviews you have like let’s say you got 10 Next to the stuff and he clicked that the box pops up that shows you what all the reviews are, you know the profile picture of the person the comment that sort of stuff. Yeah, now in the top right, it says get more reviews. You hit that button, and it has a little link ready to go sort of already shorten that you can just copy and then that’s what you use. That’s what you share with people so they’ve made it easier. Because before you used to have to go in and copy the URL, big thing shorten it yourself, but um, it was a pain. Yeah, little little tactic there. So um, yeah, as we say straight up ask people so you know, they’ve had a good experience, reach out to them. If you’re dealing with like a high volume of customers, then you can probably add some sort of automation to it. So to your signature. Yeah, put it in? Yes. Say like, the biggest compliment is you can give me as a positive review and then a link add to your automated email follow ups with customers and SMS blast out to listen and email AT T lift. You just want to be constantly asking for it. Yeah, you don’t get if you don’t ask. That’s pretty much all there is to it. There’s not much more to it than that. But we want to talk about fake reviews, because they’re bloody rampant online. And you’ll find like, Well, I see it a lot like when businesses in the digital marketing agency space, if they businesses get bad reviews on their profile or in comments on their Facebook posts or their ads, they’ll often say, Nope, that’s fake. That’s a competitor, you know, but I feel that competitors leaving fake reviews bad reviews on on other businesses might happen a little bit, but not every review. Yeah, what is more rampant is fake positive reviews. I feel so business a little Yeah, yeah. How does this leaving heaps of positive reviews for themselves? Yeah. So what they’ll often do is, you know, try and combat authentic negative reviews. So let’s say a business gets three or four or five negative reviews in a row from real customers. They might blame competitors, you know, in inverted commas, and then go and publish all these positive reviews about themselves to combat it. And Google doesn’t really do anything to prevent this. Yeah. And so like you said before, even like if a business has 100 reviews, and there’s just all five stars, that’s a bit SAS as well, yeah. So

Arthur  11:11
I go, I was gonna say, it also depends on how you manage it. If they are getting reviews, negative reviews, then they should be replying to those people trying to figure out who they are and seeing that can rectify any problems. Yeah. That’s a good way to figure out whether or not that’s a real, yeah, when they get a real a fake review.

Michael  11:26
Yes. Not to saying that it’s better. Yeah. So um, but here’s how, like, let’s say you’re in the market for a lawyer, well, let’s go with a lawyer. And you’re looking at a few different options, and you’re looking at their reviews. Here’s how to spot or at least suspect that they might be putting fake positive reviews in there. As we said, just a huge number of reviews that say they’ve got 500 reviews, 400 reviews, and their star ratings, 4.9 they’ve just very little negative reviews, it’s very likely that they have had some hand in manipulating them. If it’s just constant positive reviews, and very few negative experiences at all, you know, that’s just SAS, it doesn’t mean that it is untrue. Because there’s a lot of businesses that are really good. Yeah. But it could be you know, all of these things start to add up. Yep. For me, like reviews left by people with just one review to their name. And like, let’s say it was two years ago, and it’s never left a review before after Yeah. Red flag, red flag. Let’s not like all of these, by themselves don’t mean fake. Yeah. But together, it starts to be quite sauce

Arthur  12:36
for me, personally, is have a look at the actual review, have a look at what they’ve written. And just go in your gut feeling to see whether it’s does it sound organic or not? Yes. Does it sound like this person’s, you know, made the SOP, typed it out and send it across? Or if it’s something that sounds legitimate, you know?

Michael  12:54
Because there’s little patents you can look for on that topic? Yeah. Like if they’re, if every review is following a very similar, similar formula. That’s suspicious, like it’s the writing style the same? Are they? Are they being super specific about solving things

Arthur  13:10
or calling out certain people in the company? Yep. Or which could be legitimate, but at the same time, it just feels done? How much how much effort is going into the review? If I if it’s super in depth? I find it perhaps it’s fake? Yeah, because I didn’t you know, it’s hard enough to get a review. I feel like if you manage to get someone to leave your review, they’re probably just going

Michael  13:29
to bang out like great job love working. Yeah, bang, that’s it handed off. To me,

Arthur  13:32
it looks legit. But if someone is going into full detail, you know, I love working with Michael, you know, he’s done a really good job on my keyword research and my link building and he’s getting great deal. 50 links, if they got really technical and in depth about things. Yeah, you should definitely get in touch, speak to Simeon or whatever, like, you know, that that to me, again, another red flag, someone’s taking the time to make or put all that together. And

Michael  13:56
it is a red flag. We’re not saying that. It’s totally guaranteed. They’re fake. But all of these added together, all of them are like that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Which, you know, some companies might say when they reach out for review, look, if you could just say who you work with, you know, again, there’s no surefire way to prove it. But you just need to use your gut, use your detective put your detective hat on, when you’re when you’re looking through the reviews. And,

Arthur  14:21
you know, it would be good. Maybe jumping the gun here, but I think Google will know whether or not like a Gmail or Google profile is legitimate or not based on its activity. Sure. So they could they could potentially find a way to verify profiles like, yeah, I don’t I mean, I

Michael  14:36
just don’t care.

Arthur  14:37
I know that I care. But I mean, people care, businesses care. So if you were to you know, if it’s an inactive profile just created to leave one review, have that kind of marked,

Michael  14:47
yeah, that would be good, but I just don’t do that. I wouldn’t do that. I’m just thinking out loud. There’s tonnes of stuff they could do to make their reviews more because of

Arthur  14:57
legit Yeah, if you think if you think about Someone creating a profile just for the purpose of leaving one five star review. They’re probably never going to log into it again. Yeah. So even if if they don’t log into it for a certain amount of time, deactivating it and removing the review? Yeah, would be? I don’t know.

Michael  15:12
Yeah. Just gramley, it would be no. Like, it’s, yeah.

Arthur  15:16
Because people go to like different platforms like Trustpilot, or whatever, because they know that they can verify

Michael  15:23
your reviews. That’s the thing with like, if someone has a tonne of positive reviews on one platform where it’s very easy, and then often you can, if you search, like their name, and reviews, there’ll be all sorts of other platforms like product review, for example, where they’re getting absolutely hammered. And you can sort of get a feel for the truth of the matter. So that is one thing like, I guess, if you’re trying to suss out, like let’s say you suspect businesses, Google reviews are a bit iffy. Go look at the product reviews, or the OMOs. Or the what is it? Site? Jabber. I think it is or as there’s a whole bunch. Yeah. And just see if they’re out there. Even forums, Reddit, Whirlpool. Maybe there’s people talking about stuff on them? Well, cool.

Arthur  16:08
I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been a whirlpool. I may tell

Michael  16:11
you that it does pop up in the search results from time to time. Yeah. The other thing is, if there is a tonne of negative reviews in a row, followed by a tonne of positive reviews, yeah, that sauce? Absolutely. Because that’s obviously that they’re being hit by negative reviews. So then they can manipulate it to try to push the star rating back up. Yeah. What else would I think is something says that the reviews like profiles just left by generic names like Bob Smith, and might be avatar is just the, you know, like the orange with a letter in it? Yeah, the a lot of accounts that people don’t fill out their profiles and their Gmail account. I don’t that happens. But again, little red flags going off. All combined. can mean you can probably discount big chunk of whatever they’re saying their review rating is and then number of them schools, that sort of stuff. Yep. Um, that’s about it really? Turns spotting them unless you have any others?

Arthur  17:14
Not off the top of my head. Yeah, it is. I’m just trying to think what I do when I’m looking at, like a restaurant pretty much every night. Yeah, I think for me personally, it’s yeah, the biggest red flag is they’ve only contributed once. And if it’s super detailed, and there’s a pattern of you know, if there’s a whole bunch of people that have only contributed once writing out very similar reviews, then it’s likely that the fake Yeah, I feel that Yeah. Not every business is perfect. Not everyone’s going to have a perfect experience. So, you know, it is natural to see some negative reviews in the

Michael  17:54
Yeah, because we know people love to leave negative review exactly. positive ones. And yeah, the other thing would be reviews is one thing. But of course, when you talk to businesses, look at case studies. Look at testimonial videos. Yeah, even Um, can I speak to someone that’s, you know, been in my shoes before? Yep. That’s worked with you that, you know, yeah, has got the results, or that has built a good house that was done in time, like you say, it’s gonna be like, you know, legitimate business is going to be fine with giving you that? Yeah. So um, yeah, look, that’s it. These reviews are important for trust, social proof, converting customers ranking well in the search results. So you want to be on Google My Business, you won’t have your profile set up. You want to push people to leave your reviews. Don’t go and leave yourself positive reviews to churn? Well, look, maybe you need to if your business is getting hammered, but I guess if that’s the case, you probably want to look at your business and your operations. Not leaving positive reviews for yourself. Like take that feedback on board and improve things would be a recommendation. But that is all for today’s episode of the SEO show. Hope you enjoyed it. As always, it would be great if you could give us a review or bike or overview. Everyone I want to real one on you know, Google reviews have no sorry, Spotify, you can leave reviews now. So Spotify, Apple podcasts, subscribe, all that stuff goes into getting this show in front of more people, which would be good, but if not, hey, we don’t mind. We’re not gonna go there and fake it. So not yet. Anyway, not yet. Probably harder to fake reviews on like Apple podcasts. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never done

Arthur  19:34
an Android phone. So yeah, well, okay.

Michael  19:38
Let’s leave it at that. Yep. See you next week. Happy if yoing until then, bye bye.

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