TrustPilot has begun developing industry-wide best practice guidelines for review moderation, in a bid to prevent fake reviews from appearing on review sites.
Following the recent CMA investigation report, which highlighted the trend of companies posting fake positive reviews about themselves, various review websites have had to revise their processes and look to combat fake reviews.
The development of the new guidelines have been welcomed by other popular review sites and has been backed by Trading Standards.
Importance of Online Reviews
Online reviews continue to gain influence for consumers in their assessment of a company when making purchasing decisions. It was found in the BrightLocal Consumer Survey 2014 that around £23 billion of annual UK spending is influenced by reviews, and it is believed that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family or friends.
It is important that these reviews are accurate and balanced, particularly as popular review sites rank highly in Google for company names.
TrustPilot now employs 35 people to manually sift through more than 13 million reviews on the site, alongside the automated detection software which helps to speed up the process but which can’t stand on its own in the moderation process.
CMA investigation report
The CMA investigation report found that some businesses and websites have been publishing fake positive reviews to boost their reputation ahead of competitors. This is misleading customers and costing companies money who accurately follow the guidelines.
Currently, companies are also able to pay for endorsements through blogs, which is twisting potential customers’ views of a company or product.
It was also found that some review sites are ‘cherry-picking’ reviews – so that the positive reviews show at the top and negative reviews are suppressed. Any techniques like this should be clearly stated on the review website, as well as any commercial relationship the review site might have with companies. It is important that a fair balance of opinions is represented on a reviews site in order for people to make a fair, balanced assessment and business decision.
TrustPilot’s new guidelines indicate a step forwards for online reviews following the report. Online reputation is a valuable tool for businesses and can often be the first impression that many people get of your company. If you need guidance with your company’s online reputation, or need to make sure your online review strategy is in line with best practice, get in touch with Caroline Skipsey on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email [email protected]in confidence.