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How to Protect Your Online Reputation from Fake Reviews

11.01.2013
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How your company is perceived online can have a huge impact on customer behaviour. If you receive glowing reviews, then it can rub off positively on other readers, and the chances that they'll act based on the review is quite high. On the other hand, receiving negative reviews can cause significant damage to the reputation of a business.

Reputation management is, therefore, a really important component for an organisation, and trying to keep a check on what is being said about you on review sites is vital to protect a company's reputation.

But what happens when you receive reviews that aren't genuine? How can this impact on an organisation and what can it do to protect itself? Read on to find out more.

The rise of fake reviews

Because it has become a well-known fact how influential reviews are for the reputation of an organisation, in recent times it has emerged that some reviews are being written that aren't real. This is done in an effort to falsely sway opinions about a particular business. In fact, research conducted in the USA has revealed that up to 1 in 5 review posted may actually be fake.

Often, it's the organisations themselves who are posting fake reviews, in an effort to boost their reputation. What also sometimes happens is that rival firms may post fake reviews about their competitors, in order to damage their reputation. Some organisations even employ the services of online reputation management companies to write fake reviews for them.                                                                                                                                     

The problem is that anyone who reads review websites might not be able to distinguish between those reviews that are fake, and those that are genuine.

How can an organisation protect itself?

An organisation should never get involved with manipulating reviews, either by boosting their own profile or slurring the competition. Publicity surrounding this issue has increased in recent times and there has been a widespread effort to crack down on those firms who are responsible for posting fake reviews. If you do get caught in the act, then the damage to your reputation will be tenfold. Nobody will want to be associated with an organisation that is unethical and untrustworthy.

As an organisation, you can help protect your online reputation by keeping an eye on review sites to see what is being said about you. If you do get any negative posts, then deal with them accordingly and promptly to try to resolve any issues.

Fake reviews tend to be either extremely positive or negative, and the poster often doesn't publish their full name. Lack of details, clichés, overuse of punctuation marks and dodgy grammar are also often signs that a review might be fake. Become acquainted with the tell-tale signs.

If you suspect a review is fake, then contact the review website immediately to ask if it can be removed. Or if this isn't possible as it's too difficult to prove, at least informing the provider will make them aware of a potential issue.

Whilst it's not possible to control what is being said about you, whether it's fake or not, if you try to keep the rest of your online reputation robust and in good health, then the damage inflicted by any fake reviews won't be as threatening.

Hardly anyone purchases anything without checking the reviews first; the same can be said about services too therefore your online reputation is crucially important. To find out more about how to protect yourself online please visit Insignia

Published at DZone with permission of Paul Andrews, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)