How Trustworthy Are Online Reviews?

There are two things you should know right away about online reviews: some are legitimate and some are not.

Reviews of local companies have taken the internet by storm over the past five years or so, and many have literally depended on the quality of their online reviews. We’ve even heard of cases where businesses have been forced to close down because of how badly negative reviews affected them.

The thing about online reviews though, is that anybody can leave them. That means that even when people are in crazy, mostly irrational, emotional states of mind, they can go and leave a bad review for a business that can hurt them for years to come. While this may be justified to some, others like myself know that the lens of the emotional review may be one hundred percent opposite of others; in other words, different people have different perceptions. And because of this, it can mean that some reviews aren’t so legitimate after all, and could be damaging many business’ reputations for no valid reason. This is only an opinion, but it’s an important factor to consider when judging a business by their online reviews.

Most of the time, it’s obvious which reviews are legitimate and which are not. The more in-depth reviews are the best ones to look at if you are a person that likes to look at reviews before buying or inquiring for a quote. These reviews typically give some sort of explanation that relates why the person enjoyed the service the way they did, and why they may plan or returning or referring.

Review Sites Worth Listening To

The best way to utilize reviews is to use them with discretion, and remember that not all reviews will be trustworthy since just anyone can leave a review.

Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google, Yahoo and and Angie’s List are great places – actually, the best – to find legit reviews. It’s important to note that all of the sites I just listed aside from Angie’s List can have reviews posted on them by anyone that feels like it, so read and use your judgement wisely. 

A big benefit about Yelp though, is that it shows the profile authority of the reviews. In other words, it shows how many reviews they have left, etc. If a reviewer has less than 5 reviews, it’s not worth listening to since this person doesn’t have very much credibility. However, if a reviewer has left several reviews, they are more likely to be a credible source to listen to.

Another reason why it’s important to look at profile authority and credibility is because a large percentage of online reviews are fake, and therefore, illegitimate. Aside from a reviewer’s profile not having left many reviews, other factors that make it easy to spot fake reviews include:

  • Aside from a low review count, these reviews also leave only five-star reviews
  • The reviews left on a business profile sound scripted or overly hyped-up; sounding like they are obviously trying to give a lot of credit to the company they are reviewing
  • If the reviewer is giving too much praise, it may be for incentive
  • If a business has a lot of reviews that sound the same, they could be scripted
  • If a business has a lot of reviews in a short period of time, it’s possible that these reviews were paid or incentivized in some other way to leave the review