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  • Writer's pictureDan Lake

The Rise of Fake Reviews

If you had to make a list of some of the most important assets a business has in the modern era, social proof would undoubtedly be right at the top.

According to one recent study, a massive 93% of people say they rely on legitimate reviews whenever they're doing business with brands they're not familiar with. The average person analyzes reviews to a staggering degree when shopping online. Roughly the same number of people evaluate the product’s overall review rating before deciding whether to make a purchase in the first place.

Identify Fake Reviews: Facts and Figures

More than that, a deep data analysis shows about 87% of people say they always check out five-star reviews of local businesses online. 66% of people say they're more likely to buy a product because of product reviews, and over half of all respondents said that they considered customer reviews to be very helpful when it came to their eventual buying decisions. It's gotten to the point where people trust social proof - things like posts on Facebook and Twitter, or positive reviews on eCommerce websites like Amazon - just as much as they do recommendations from their own family members and other loved ones. Having said that, did you know more than 50% of all reviews - and in some cases, as many as 90% - on leading marketplaces are fake and otherwise unreliable?

The Fake Review Problem

It's true. People have overwhelmingly shown they trust reviews before making a purchasing decision, yet it's been shown time and again the lion's share of these reviews cannot be trusted at all. It's a paradox if there ever was one, but it's also a far more complicated situation than many people realize.

The Case for (and Against) Online Reviews

But why, specifically, is this happening? On major eCommerce websites like Amazon in particular, the total number of recent reviews a product or brand has - coupled with the overall star rating they've been able to achieve - directly impacts the search ranking. This means the more reviews and the higher the stars, the closer to the top your product will be when people search for various items. Therein lies the problem.

The Value of Amazon Search Results

Data shows products that appear as close to the top of the search results as possible sell exponentially more than those that appear lower on the page. Because of that, the review volume and score offer inherent value - and that is something people are willing to pay for. To be fair to a corporation like Amazon, there are certain safeguards in place to help prevent people from gaming the system. In 2021, Amazon took the impressive step of shutting down more than 300 brands for breaking their own rules in terms of what constitutes a fake review. All of them were based in China, which is worth nothing.

Spot Fake Reviews

However, the user reviews problem persists, and it's not one that is unique to Amazon, either. Think back to the last time you used the search bar for a product review online. Think about the sheer volume of four and five-star products you purchased. How many times were you shocked at the fact that thousands of people would have given that product five stars? There's a reason for that. The reality of the situation is there's a booming business in manufacturing fake reviews. Companies in virtually every industry you can think of are willing to pay top dollar to get as high up in the search rankings on sites like Amazon as possible.

A Potential Solution for a Modern Day Problem

Of course, all of this demands the question - what can be done to address this issue of unnatural reviews? What steps can be taken to preserve the sanctity of not only the review grade, but the very idea of social proof in general? It's complicated. We know a significant number of the fake reviews on Amazon are originating from outside the United States. Indeed, fake Amazon reviews abound.

A platform like Rivly is an ideal way to solve this problem by its very nature, thanks in large part to the fact it is a marketplace used exclusively for US-based businesses in the first place. It's therefore easier to identify and prevent fake reviews. At Rivly, we require all organizations to provide evidence of a United States business owner who handles the day-to-day operations within the US itself. An appropriate US address and phone number is required for accountability.

Not only that, but we also acknowledge it's far too easy to create fake accounts and profiles on certain other platforms people may be dealing with. This opens the door for a situation where someone with multiple fake accounts could leave fake reviews for the same product.

Rivly, on the other hand, will use identity verification to make sure everyone who leaves a review on the platform is legitimate. This guarantees only one account is possible for every American citizen. Not only that, but we've also taken measures to help improve review quality, too. The Rivly platform incentivizes the types of online shopping reviews we all want. Think of it as a review summary or a review index. We take steps to improve detail with more images, videos and other multimedia elements. We encourage a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of a purchase. We invite comparisons to other competitive products on the platform.

We do all of this in an effort to add as much legitimacy to the star rating and review process as possible. If customers are able to trust Rivly, they're able to trust the brands we do business with - which in and of itself is the most important goal of all. As a product of all this extra effort, reviewers are able to earn money for their reviews that are ultimately deemed to be helpful to other shoppers. It truly creates a win-win situation for everyone involved - and it's one that can help us relieve many of the issues the online eCommerce industry is experiencing now.

If you'd like to find out more information about the lengths companies are willing to go to combat the problem of fake reviews, or if you have any additional questions you'd like to go over in a bit more detail, please don't delay - contact Rivly today.


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