Published on October 6th, 2015 | by Grant Barnard0
Can I Trust Online Reviews? AngiesList, Yelp, Houzz, Google, Yahoo Local
Trusting reviews is very important. Many customers make a snap decision based on reviews. Rightfully so in most cases. In most cases a simple google search with ‘company name’ + cityname + “reviews” will give you a picture their reviews in a snap. In fact when you search our company you find three sets of gold stars in the search results itself. They are all 4.5 and above! This should tell you that at first glance Grants Painting is a great professional painter to hire. You’re correct and can contact us at 317-800-4540.
Reviews are generally filtered by an automated service that looks for key factors. Some factors might include if the reviewer has left previous reviews and even how those reviews fared in the filter. Sometime the filters are referred to as algorithms.
Are There Fake Reviews
Here we are talking only about fake reviews and not just unfair or slightly deceptive. Fake reviews are generally left by the business to improve the outlook of their services. Sometimes reviews are just simply left for the wrong business. OR, the much more sinister type is the fake reviews left by the business’ competitors. This will vary between review services depending on their polices for verifying the validity of the review.
- Yelp – Yelp has long been criticized for their review filtering process. They are well known for filtering the first reviews of most reviewers. Although in a study from Cornell University shows the rate of fake reviews quickly rose after the malicious user quickly adapted to this and simply left more reviews, more FAKE reviews! Yelp did filter my first review from a first time reviewer. I never encouraged another Yelp review has I worked hard to get that good review.
- Google – Google has a very closed door approach to dealing with this process. They of course have their filters that only run every once in a while. There is no dispute process. Google does allow anyone to report a review for a various of violations. They have filtered one review of mine that was totally real.
- Yahoo Local – Yahoo local does not have much of a filter. Reviews could be real for the most part but some may be lacking truth at all. Being that Yahoo is not used that much anymore I would be wary of a truck load of glowing recent reviews. I am unaware of their dispute process.
- Houzz – Houzz.com makes it very easy for a professional to soliciting a customer for a review. This is the service that we use. I am unaware of their dispute process but their customer service associates are always helpful and nice. Even though I have never bough advertising from them. They have never filtered a review of mine. Yes, they are all real!
- Angie’s List – Controversy surrounds AngiesList from their stock price dropping from the original price of $13 a share that is now at $5.25 today. When stockholders aren’t happy you may consider review manipulation. Forbes story about review manipulation fraud. And our local Indianapolis news station pretty much proved one of AL’s “oops flaws”
- BBB – The BBB has no process to prove their review came from a customer. If the reviewer responds by email, the review is considered valid. There is no filter or algorithm at work at the BBB.
- Facebook – Facebook has absolutely no dispute or verification process. Anybody can leave a review for anybody.
Who Sells To Who
Everybody has to make $$$, RIGHT! We have to eat no matter what. Yelp, Houzz, BBB, Facebook and AngiesList all sell to the professional service provider. While this may compromise integrity, it can also keep things on the straight and narrow. These services need to provide real value so there are users for the provider to sell to. They basically have to offer a value and that value is a set of truthful reviews from real customers. Angie’s List is unique in these services as they actually charge BOTH SIDES. Angie’s List charges the customer a membership rate and the professional service provider too. So, a member can pay $25 to leave a review and the professional can pay thousands to manipulate it. Forbes Maggie McGrath goes a bit further into how revenue can persuade a private organization.
Spotting Fake Reviews
Spotting fake reviews can be difficult. However, a few tell tale signs will tell you the review is questionable. Christina DesMarais spells out in detail on spotting fake reviews. Here is here bullet list for reference.
- A lot of superlatives and not much description. Phrases like “a must-read” and “life-changing” are giveaways.
- References to other people such as “my family” or “my husband.” Keep in mind, if the person writing the review is making it up, the story tends to stray farther away from the actual product.
- More frequent use of the first-person singular. Fictitious assessments tend to include the words “me” and “I” more often, as if to make the review seem more credible.
- Exclamation points and positive emotion. Truthful reviews use other kinds of punctuation, including the dollar sign.