Learning To Trust Again
...Online Ratings, That Is!
Once upon a time, the internet was a place to get the information you needed quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, recent marketing strategies have completely altered the way we receive information online. When using a search engine to find information or reviews of a product, service or professional, we can no longer rely on the results as presented. Consumers no longer trust that the rave reviews are truthful and often make the wrong decision based on these unreliable reviews.
It goes without saying that companies want to have the best possible rating to increase revenue and bring in a steady stream of new customers. More positive reviews lead to higher rankings on search engines, attracting more customers.
Studies show that many businesses go to great lengths to preserve their online ratings, even going as far as to use strategies that are morally questionable. Some go so far as posting fictitious positive reviews for their own business or negative ones for competitors.
Sites like Amazon, Yelp and others try to weed out fraudulent reviews, but their systems make it impossible to eradicate them completely. Further, they see having more reviews as greater value than accurate reviews. It’s in the consumer’s best interest to never simply accept the reviews they see and to understand the primary marketing strategies that some companies use.
When shopping for a product or service, knowledge really is power. In the days before the internet, it was risky to shop at new establishments without a personal recommendation from someone trusted like a friend or family member. It’s human nature to rely on the opinions of others to influence how we should spend our hard-earned money.
There’s a good chance that a new restaurant will be at the top of our list if everyone in town is raving about it, and we’ll avoid that restaurant if everyone is complaining. We are putting our faith and trust in online strangers whose identity or experience we can’t verify.
Today, with just a few clicks, we can view the opinions of dozens, if not hundreds of strangers who happily share their personal experiences. Many consumers take these reviews at face value and trust the information that presented as gospel. Unfortunately, these reviews can’t be relied on.
According to research, some 30% of reviews online are fictitious or at least, misleading. Let’s look at some common strategies companies use to forge their reviews, and how to determine which are trustworthy and which are not.
Fake Reviews Written by Professionals
Some sites flag users for violating their terms of service (and some have taken to on-the-fly violations based on personal agendas – a topic for another article) and that’s a good start. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous vendors offer services to create phony positive (for the business, product or service) or negative reviews (for competitors) for a nominal price, all with the net goals of boosting SEO and showing up higher in search engine rankings.
Companies Manipulate Customers into Leaving Positive Reviews
Proving just how important these ratings and reviews are, many companies offer gifts, freebies, discounts and other incentives in exchange for a glowing, 5-star review. Some will even reach out directly to consumers who left critical feedback or a lower rating and ask them to alter their rating in exchange for some benefit. The incentive greatly outweighs the accuracy of the original, valid review for many.
Consumers Blackmail Businesses
Likewise, many consumers have taken to using blackmail against companies in order to force benefits that they’d not get otherwise. Here, they threaten bad reviews or write-ups in order to force the business to give them something they want.
Unrest, for Hire
Some tactics aren’t even between the consumer and business. Some untrustworthy businesses or organizations hire people to scan social media and look to instill distrust by offer fake reviews or ratings. Others will go so far as to create phony “statistics” in one article and then reference that article elsewhere claiming it as proof. These scammers try to create as much distrust and unease as possible – all in the attempt to swing opinion.
Positive Reviews Left by Employees
To boost their SEO, some companies will have their own employees, friends, and family members leave rave reviews to improve their ranking on various search engines. This is all too easy to accomplish as consumers are not likely familiar with the names of the staff members of the business. In some cases, employees may even set up secret accounts that are made specifically to spam the page with positive reviews.
Learning to Trust Again
With so much nefarious activity online, you may be wondering how you can ever trust the reviews you see on your favorite search engine. To get the most accurate information, it is important to utilize a search engine with integrity, transparency, and one that does not have a bias in the results that they show.
This is where Rankipedia stands out. Rankipedia strives to earn your trust by ranking professionals, products, and services fairly, accurately and reliably, based on industry-specific values. The reviews and ratings on Rankipedia are verified and cannot be altered or doctored by biased sources. In a world where those with the “deepest pockets” usually win, Rankipedia’s mission is to ensure that the businesses on our site can never buy their way to the top.
Interestingly, Rankipedia uses seven different types of “AI” (Artificial Intelligence”) that were custom designed specifically for the purpose of detecting and responding to the activities previously mentioned. These “smart tools” work together, sharing and evaluating information closely to ensure only legitimate reviews and ratings are given.
Professionals “tell their stories” to Rankipedia – their experience, backgrounds, values and what makes them great and sets them apart from the competition. Every search made runs through Rankipedia’s AI to show only the results that are most applicable to the searcher’s needs. You no longer have to hope that the reviews of strangers are real and you’ll never be forced to consider companies simply because they have the largest advertising budgets.
We believe in bringing integrity and trust back to the internet. Allowing consumers access to truthful, valuable information that will assist them in making the best choice, without the bias or marketing rat race.