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Who to Trust When Looking for Online Reviews

Online reviews have been around since 1999, with websites like eBay among the first to offer the function. Since then, the option to leave a review for a product or service has become commonplace and even expected by consumers. 

In fact, 93% of respondents in a 2023 US study stated that reviews directly impact their purchasing decisions, and 81% of these study participants use Google to evaluate local businesses before supporting them. Meanwhile, sites like Yelp receive 26,830 new reviews every minute.

However, not all reviews can be trusted! It is well-known that some vendors publish fake reviews to sell their products and services. 

Whether you’re looking at reviews of products, services, or online casinos, it’s crucial to understand how to distinguish between false reviews and those posted by real people with first-hand experience. By following the simple guidelines in this article, you’ll know who to trust when looking for reviews online. 

Don’t Assume; Dig Deeper

The most common mistake people make is accepting any review at face value. An excellent review that is too good to be true generally is. Likewise, an excessively harsh review may only tell part of the story. 

To avoid confusing the facts, never assume that an extremely good or bad review is entirely truthful. Instead, dig deeper and look for additional reviews that either substantially confirm or refute the claims made in the review. Does anyone else echo the same issues or praise the same benefits? A relevant review will have several other reviews to corroborate its claims. 

If you don’t have time to cross-reference an extreme review, the rule of thumb is to concentrate on reviews with a more neutral tone.  

Check the Timestamps

One of the best ways to see if a brand or service provider has tampered with reviews is to check the dates the reviews were posted. Generally, a product or service should have reviews published over a period ranging from a few months to a few years. 

The internet marketplace is known to grow interest in products and services at viral speeds; however, it’s rare for hundreds of reviews to be posted within a few days. When this happens, the brand may be paying people to post reviews. 

On the other hand, when brands and services have reviews posted for several months or years, it’s possible to track consistent service and improvements in service over time. For example, a website that had issues in 2020 may have improved its services significantly since then. 

Investigate the Reviewer

An essential step in determining the truthfulness of a review is to look into the person posting the review. Many review platforms host profiles that show the collective contribution a reviewer has made on that site. Google is one such example.

Their profile allows you to view a person’s previous reviews and see what their average review consists of. Should you find a review that is either full of high praise or totally negative, it is a good idea to check if this is consistent with the other reviews the person has posted. 

If someone has no other reviews, there is a chance that they created an account specifically to leave the review you found. In this case, their review may not be an unbiased and measured report. Seeking out additional reviews would be a good bet. 

Check the Facts

The best online reviews are those left by people with first-hand experience that they can substantiate with factual information. For example, a review posted to cover available online casinos in California would be unhelpful without listing any specific local casinos. Likewise, a negative review of a product on Amazon would be useless if it failed to mention the product name. 

Where factual information is supplied, cross referencing this with other reviews or legitimate information sources is a good idea. For example, if a review lodges a complaint against an online casino’s payout policy, checking the casino’s official page for information on this policy will help determine whether or not the complaint was warranted. 

Always Positive

One strong indication that a brand has paid people to write reviews is when the reviews appear overwhelmingly positive, with only a few minor negative notes sprinkled in. 

To make fake reviews look more organic and believable, companies will post a small number of negative reviews alongside the positive ones. These reviews usually only feature slight misgivings and may even mention some positive resolution. 

When you see a group of overly positive reviews, applying some of the other methods mentioned in this article to verify their authenticity is best.  

Tagged

In some countries, laws require writers, reviewers, bloggers, and vloggers to state if they have been paid to endorse a product or service. Online, this often takes the form of a tag or disclaimer. 

Certain key phrases may indicate a review was paid for. If you see: “this review was sponsored by,” “this post was in affiliation with,” or “the writer of this post may have some affiliation with…” somewhere in the review, it means that the writer was paid to write it. Generally, it is best to avoid using these reviews as decision-making criteria since they are designed to influence you to buy a product or use a service, not to give genuine opinions.  

Conclusion

With estimates showing that almost half of all internet users post a review every month, it’s clear that reviews have become integral to how we do business on the internet. Reviews provide critical information that helps consumers avoid the bad and enjoy the good, thanks to the experiences of others. 

Knowing how to spot genuine reviews can help you decide which products or services are worthy of your hard-earned cash—and which you should stay far away from.