How To Identify and Report Your Competitors’ Fake (Paid) Reviews  


 Note I’ve broken some URLs below:

   Fake (paid) reviews may be found online on Amazon,  Google Maps (a.k.a Business Profile), Tripadvisor  etc . To state the obvious, fake reviews can majorly influence a product's (in an online marketplace like Ebay) / business’s ranking (and consumers’ perceptions) either positively (when the fake review is +ive) or negatively (when the fake review is -ive) . This is because many online marketplaces' / search engines’ / review sites’ algorithms use reviews as a key signal to determine a product's / business’s ranking among other products / businesses in the same category (Gobi and Rathinavelu, 2019). 

  Thus fake reviews can be a used as a weapon in a competitive online marketplace – an unethical firm may generate negative reviews about their rivals and you can decrease the visibility of your competitors by reporting fake reviews. If you are working in brand / online reputation management then keeping an eye on your clients' online reviews is a part of your job!

    Some SEO agencies have been found to be writing fake reviews for their clients. One small UK based agency was found to have written 800+ fake (positive) reviews for 86 small businesses (published on  26 websites) between 2014 and 2015

    Here are some tips on how to identify and report your clients’ competitors’ fake online reviews relatively quickly and easily.

 Here are some tips on how to identify and report your clients’ competitors’ fake online reviews relatively quickly and easily.

How To Identify Fake Online Reviews

    1. Some review site(s) flags certain profiles as having contained suspicious reviews e.g. on Trustpilot you may see a warning like:


        Enough said! Often suspicious reviews remain on the profiles in question. See .

2. A large number of reviews (depends on the platform / scale & age of business scale etc) but high hundreds / 1K+ on one platform might be worthy of scrutiny (hospitality / travel businesses might  be the exception). If a business has 300 reviews on Trustpilot with only 3 on the Google Map that might be suspicious...

3. A suspicious pattern of reviews e.g. 2 separate businesses - one in Canada, one in the United Kingdom: both with recent reviews on the Google Map from the same 2 "people"? With slightly different names? Can you believe it? What a coincidence…

4. A pattern of “General reviews” which often just mentions the support / customer service they received rather than specifics e.g. a product name or staff member's name. It is possible that with “review gating” ( e.g. by only asking customers who are in contact with customer services / support departments who had a positive outcome for reviews) that a similar patten might occur, but if no staff names mentioned that in my opinion suggests fake reviews. See below:

    5. Content of review is irrelevant to the business – this appears to be where a review for one business is erroneously posted on another profile by the ‘fake reviewer’ working on multiple reviews. See a review for an estate agent comparison site below:

 6. It may be that automated translation software is being used if the ‘fake reviewer’ is not a speaker of the language of the territory where the business being reviewed is located – thus the content might be written in incorrect English / French etc. 

7. If you search for the content of suspicious reviews on Google in inverted commas with one or more of the above / below characteristics you may see where the same review content was posted elsewhere.

8. The reviewers’ names often don’t look right . If for example there are a lot of Asian names reviewing a (local) service in an area without many / any Asian people that may be a clue. The screenshot below shows a few reviewers with look like double first names rather than a first name with a surname:

How To Report Fake Online Reviews

    1. See “Report inappropriate reviews ” on Google: . There may also be other related Google Business Profile guideline compliance issues 

            2. For fake online reviews / misrepresentation of reviews there may also be grounds for a complaint to the UK Competition and Markets Authority (and similar regulators around the world) as they state that "Markets that are not working well can result in negative effects for consumers, businesses and the economy. E.g. consumers may be not be able to make informed choices about prospective purchases” (quote from page linked below) - see 'Problems in a market sector' section on . 

    4. Bing Maps: see,the%20bottom%20of%20the%20page. 

    5. Trustpilot: see https://support.trustpilot .com/hc/en-us/articles/203419993-How-consumers-can-flag-reviews-that-breach-our-guidelines