Imagine your product pages looking like this:
Your product ratings are flawless!
All of those five-star ratings. No negative reviews in sight, too!
But there's just one thing wrong with this picture... All of the reviews are FAKE!
Shopify store owners realize how impactful reviews are for social proof. Product ratings can increase brand awareness and establish credibility for Shopify stores.
And sadly, some eCommerce businesses are desperate enough to fake reviews on their Shopify store.
Posting fake reviews may give you short-term success on your conversion rates.
But I'm here to warn you... IT'S NOT WORTH IT!
You'll only take unnecessary risks for your eCommerce business.
You're about to read what fake Shopify reviews are, and how Google deals with a Shopify store that posts ones.
Warning: It's not good at all!
Let's go over...
What Counts As A Fake Review?
Fake reviews are reviews from a person or a group of people that have no actual experience with the product or service.
This includes reviews from users who are paid to leave glowing reviews. Some are also offered free products to write fake positive reviews. In some cases, they are also asked to write negative reviews for competing brands.
Fake Shopify reviews have two purposes.
The first one is that it makes the brand look good.
Fake positive reviews can go a long way when it comes to convincing customers. This can increase their sales and boosts their business above their competition.
The second reason is that fake negative reviews can ruin other businesses' credibility.
Brands would source negative reviews for their competitor's product or service. These fake Shopify reviews are meant to bring them down and make their own brand look better.
Fake reviews may seem like a good idea at first. But fake accounts aren't as easy to hide from Google as they seem.
Monitoring fake reviews is one of Google's priorities. Here's how they do it...
How Does Google Detect Fake Reviews?
A few unscrupulous merchants create fake accounts that spread fake reviews. Google approaches these fake or misleading data in two ways:
Automated Detection System
Google uses machine learning algorithms. These machines scan millions of everyday contributions.
How do they do this?
The machines look through typical user pattern data.
For instance, users leave reviews and ratings at places they visited. Google utilizes these data to gather legitimate reviews from fake ones.
Google also focuses on identifying content from click farms. These kinds of farms generate fake reviews and ratings.
The company detects not just reviews but also pages such as a business profile. Fake business profiles steal buyers from other real-life businesses by pushing them out of search results.
So, how do they penalize fake Shopify reviews?
Their algorithms detect and eliminate the content that violates their policy. It's either removed by automated models, or they flag it for further review. The user account also goes with the review.
But sometimes, fake reviews can go under Google's radar.
That is when they employ human analysts.
Human Content Moderators
Google's algorithms can have a hard time understanding other aspects of fake reviews. Human moderators and analysts then take over.
For example, algorithms cannot understand local slang from various languages. The analysts go over what the machine did not catch.
For security reasons, Google has yet to open up more information about their human analysts.
And that's how Google gathers reviews and sorts through each one.
Let's move on to...
How Google And Shopify Feel About Fake Reviews?
Google customer reviews and Shopify reviews can make or break your business. But fake reviews hurt brands like yours as you can...
1. Lose Organic Search Ranking
As an eCommerce brand owner, you know how crucial it is to rank high on search engine results pages. It's one of the most important aspects of high click-through rates.
When Google detects fake reviews on your store, your brand can experience a sharp decline in your ranking. They can remove your brand from search results.
Once that happens, you will miss out on the organic search.
Uploading fake reviews can...
2. Get Your Brand Banned
You might think that losing ranking can be the worst thing that can happen.
But get this...
Google can ban you from its platform entirely.
You see, fake reviews mean you are violating Google My Business policies. They can remove your content, suspend your account... or revoke your Business Profile ownership.
However, brands can still use Google ads as they currently don't have advertising penalties.
Creating faked reviews just to increase positive review numbers on your store is enticing.
But Shopify also has its own policies on fake reviews.
For Shopify store owners reading this, consider this a warning as Shopify can...
3. Entirely Shut Down Your eCommerce Site
Getting fined for hosting illegitimate reviews is one bad thing.
But the worst consequence of using fake reviews is that your online store can be shut down.
Shopify's Terms of Service clearly state that they are against fake reviews. They can close down your store any time if they find you...
- Using a random review generator to create a good review.
- Using fake reviews through a review app.
You can clearly see how fake reviews can hurt your brand identity. It can also affect your future customers' perception of you.
Here are other disadvantages you need to know...
More Disadvantages Of Fake Shopify Reviews
Your brand's valuable feedback should always come from real customers. Hearing negative feedback may not be what you like, but faking positive ones can...
4. Cost You A Lot Of Money
The Federal Trade Commission created an act to protect consumers.
If they catch you using fake reviews, they can cost you a hefty fine.
For instance, the FTC fined a weight-loss supplement retailer with a whopping $12.8 million. They were caught creating fake reviews to make the brand look better.
The FTC may not fine you the same amount. But the fine you have to pay can still severely affect your business' finances.
Google, Shopify, and the FTC are not the only ones who can sniff out fake reviews.
Shoppers realize real reviews from fake ones more than you know.
Another disadvantage is...
5. Consumers Can Figure It Out Anyway
Look, customers in today's world are smart and savvy.
They have a lot of tools in their hands to detect fraudulent reviews.
Plus, real online reviews are valuable feedback. Without it, you won't be able to learn more about your eCommerce business.
Consider this: You won't be able to know what's working and what isn't.
With no real customer experience (yes, even negative feedback), then you can't improve your brand reputation.
And when you don't improve anything, customers will leave truly negative reviews on your site.
To give you a better idea, here are real-life scenarios where phony reviews left on brands get caught...
Fake Reviews Examples In Real Life Businesses
The FTC alleges the skincare brand posting illegitimate reviews on Sephora's website. They meant to boost their sales through it.
Even more, their CEO and founder told her staff to "dislike" negative reviews so they can get hidden.
As a result, Sunday Riley settled an agreement with FTC. It includes them agreeing not to post more fake reviews in the future.
Another example of this is...
Car Dealerships In California
Nine car dealerships had to pay a settlement of $3.6 million. They misled customers with misleading ads and bogus reviews.
The FTC found at least 13 five-star Facebook ratings for one of the stores. They were all posted by the company itself or their agents.
The car dealers also agreed to stop using deceptive tactics in the future.
False reviews are not only seen and caught by Google or Shopify. The FTC, and even your customers, can see right through the façade of it all.
What I'm trying to say is, phony reviews mean...
No More Customers, No More Revenue!
Growing your presence on Google and Shopify means you have to gather reviews. And get them from real, existing customers!
Fake reviews can only do more harm than good.
If you want more reviews, there are other legitimate ways to go by.
And Debutify Reviews can help you collect reviews efficiently. You don't need to get fake reviews because it can make everything easy for you... from requesting reviews to displaying them!
Bulk up your reviews...