Tips to help you avoid falling foul of fake reviews

Buying software — or any resource — for your business is awash with pitfalls. You need to avoid the vapourware and fake products. You need to ensure the security and credibility of the vendor.

A good place to turn, then, might be online reviews. Only, you’ll have to be wary of the fake reviews too. While genuine reviews can provide valuable insight, many online reviews are less helpful. That is, they’re often fake or plagued with bias.

There are two main types of fake review when it comes to business solutions. There are those paid for by the vendor, and those written by the vendor. Here are three tips for avoiding them both.

1.      Look for balance

Fake reviews tend to be overly positive and enthusiastic about the software or product in question. However, in some cases, you’ll find fake reviews that are absolutely scathing. But fake reviews rarely occupy a middle ground.

So, keep an eye out for any excessively positive or negative reviews — in terms of both content and volume. If, for example, you find ten glowing reviews, all published within minutes of each other, be sceptical of the content. If you find a review with only positive things to say, take it with a pinch of salt.

A good idea is to focus on the ‘middle of the road’ reviews. These are the reviews that tend to hold a three-star rating. They’re most likely to be honest, real reviews. Plus, they tend to provide a good balance — weighing up positives with negatives.

2.      Inspect the comments — don’t just rely on star ratings

The next step in discerning a fake review from a real one is to analyse the content of the review. That is, the comments the reviewer made.

For example, does the review repeat the words of other reviews verbatim? Duplicate copies of the same review (on the same or on similar business solutions) is indicative of a fake review.

Or, does the review use specific or general language? Honest reviewers are more likely to get specific about their experience. But, too specific reads like an advert. The key here is, if it reads like an advert, it probably is an advert. But if it has no detail, it’s not useful to you either. Again, look for a balance.

If the review doesn’t have any comments, (instead only having a star rating,) it’s not much use to you anyway.

3.      Review the reviewer

The last step is to review the reviewer. Look at their profile and at the other items they have purchased and reviewed.

Ask yourself, ‘does the reviewer mention what business they bought the software or product for?’ and ‘Do they have a profile image?’. These questions can get you thinking critically about the reviewer you’re considering trusting.

Look at their other reviews. If they’ve bought many iterations of the same type of product or software in a short time, the reviews are likely fake. Similarly, look again for repetition. If the reviewer has left the same or a strikingly similar review on another resource or solution, it’s likely a fake reviewer.

Bonus tip: try it yourself

Most software products and services have a free trial offer. If this is the case for you, make use of that opportunity. Free trials let you see for yourself whether the solution you’re considering is up to standard. Plus, it’s a great way to find out if it’s a viable option for your business needs.

A pinch of salt

When you’re in charge of the next business purchase, it can be tempting to blindly trust online reviews. Honest online reviews are a great source of valuable insight when you’re choosing your next business solution. But, thanks to shady practices, fake reviews can taint your findings.

Don’t treat online reviews like the be-all and end-all. Instead, take online reviews of your new business resource with a pinch of salt, and a healthy dose of scepticism. That way, you can sort the real from the fake, and make a more informed decision for your business.

Please note: we originally published this article at