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Are reports of “fake reviews” legit? Not in local search

by | May 15, 2017 | Public Relations

There are plenty of headlines—and even some lawsuits—around fake review ramifications. But when it comes to online reviews, new research proves it’s not an epidemic.

A new study from search marketing and review management firm Chatmeter aims to bolster the trustworthiness of online reviews—and the impact they have on consumers’ trust in a brand. The company recently examined whether fake reviews are a real issue, or just the latest in fake news.

According to the research, the majority (53%) of consumers rarely or never see a fake review. Not only are 80.7% of consumers using online reviews to influence their purchase decisions, they are more scrutinous of what constitutes an honest review, which may help or hinder trust in a company.

“With industry concerns around fake reviews on many e-commerce sites, it’s reassuring for brands to know fake reviews are not an issue in the local search space,” said Collin Holmes, CEO of Chatmeter, in a news release. “We have seen this affirmed in our sentiment analysis across millions of reviews, and now in our recent consumer survey. However, providing great customer experiences and getting your happy customers to share them is more important than ever.”

What’s telling from this data, are the kinds of reviews consumers believe are most trustworthy and factors which impact trust of a brand:

  • Seeing Stars: The majority of respondents say a star rating of a location is the biggest contributor to trust in a particular store, with 4 stars driving the most trust (41.8%).
  • Quantity and Sentiment: Next to a star rating, the quantity and sentiment of reviews represented key factors which contribute to trust in an online review of a company or store.
  • Millennial Trust Issues: Respondents ages 18-34 are more trusting of a brand that has 100+ reviews, while ages 45-54 are trusting of a brand with just 1 review.
  • Just Google It: In 2016, mobile ad spend jumped 77% to $36.6 billion; but how valuable are these ads if customers can’t find local, positively-ranked store locations? Underscoring the valuable connection between online reviews and local SEO, 51.6% of respondents report they turn to reviews on Google the most, followed by 32.3% who prefer Facebook.

Chatmeter fake reviews data

The fact is, reviews let businesses understand first-hand what their customers are experiencing—and helps to inform how they make actionable decisions on where to improve the customer experience, products, marketing messaging and operations. Becoming familiar with the needs and wants of their customers will naturally increase loyalty and trust with the brand itself.

Learn more about how businesses can improve their local SEO and better harness the power of online reviews on Chatmeter’s blog.

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