Do You Consider Online Reviews Relevant?

Its an interesting day and age in the commercial world, with all these websites like Tripadviser, Urban Spoon, Whirlpool, Complaints Board and the like enabling people to post reviews on businesses and about the experiences they have had. Even the Google Places/Maps function – a search engine option that is supposed to help you navigate your way to physical addresses – gives you the ability to leave a comment and rating on your experience.

Its a pretty interesting way of researching companies isn’t it – it would be great if these systems were never abused. However the simple fact is that they are abused. Some ways such review websites are commonly abused include:

  • Anonymous, super high authority websites allow unknown people to post anonymous reviews that may or may not be true, without scrutiny or verification of facts. As these websites are high authority, they appear in Google searches and can destroy a business’s reputation. Quite often investigation into these posts prove to be false – posted by competitors or disgruntled former employees. Unfortunately most shoppers don’t do more investigation.
  • Competitors can organise family, friends or even offshore teams to create false and damning reviews and ratings on a business’s review profiles, destroying their appearance on that website. The business owner then suffers loss of business, or high expenses having the false and misleading information removed.
  • Businesses┬ácan organise family, friends or even offshore teams to create false and misleading information, artificially painting a positive and false image of their own business – inflated ratings and reviews which mislead customers into using that business rather than competitors. In this case, consumers are dependent on real reviews to gradually come through and re-rate the business correctly, which could take years – or never if the proprietor continues to inflate their ratings.
  • Savvy internet marketers cleverly overwhelm their industries with content, suppressing and hiding honest consumer reviews.

So what do you think? How much notice do you give to rating and review websites?

*extract from Custodian Millionaire Case Studies magazine printed in 2012.

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