Anyone with half a brain knows you have to do your research before making any major investment. Whether you’re investing in a house, a car, or your education, you need to do you due dilligence.
I check online reviews before I buy ANYTHING. My fiance and I were in Target last week buying one of those oil-less Infrared Fryers. I pulled out my phone and picked the one with the best reviews.
But how do you know where to research? We all know opinions found on the internet are worth just about as much as you pay for them. But you can find a few useful reviews out there for whatever it is you’re about to buy. You just have to know how to sift through the junk.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of "review" sites that claim to be unbiased, but are anything but. There are now thousands of fake review sites being set up with a hidden, or if you know what to look for, not so hidden, agenda.
These sites review anywhere from just a few to hundreds of their competitors, and usually try to sound unbiased, but ultimately, at the end of the review, you’ll see something along the lines of, "Of all of the [insert product here] we’ve tested, we’ve found that the only one that stands up to our rigorous requirements is [insert affiliate link here]."
As a marketer, I have to say the model is genius, albeit unethical.
I’ve compiled a list of signs to look for to know whether or not you’re looking at a legitimate review, or if you’re being duped, and if the review is legitimate, how much stock you should put into it. Some of these are directly related to Ron LeGrand Reviews, while most can be used when researching any product.
- The easiest way to tell a review is bogus is to scroll to the end of the review and look for another product being promoted.
- If it’s a Ron LeGrand review, if you see anything about $9,000 seminars or $600 books, you know it’s a fake. Ron has never had a $9,000 seminar and has never sold a book for more than $25.
- If you see marketing hype, it’s probably fake. Normal consumers don’t write like that.
- If the website is dedicated to only reviewing one thing, it’s definitely a fake. This works for both negative reviews and positive reviews. If it’s a positive review, it’s probably an affiliate linking to the product. If it’s a negative review, it’s either an affiliate linking to another product, or it’s a competitor bad mouthing their competition.
- ALL CAPS – Okay, this one doesn’t necessarily mean the review is a fake, but generally, if someone is writing in all caps, they’re just an idiot, and they should be ignored.
- 1-Star Reviews – Generally, EVERYTHING about a product or service won’t be horrible. People who give 1-star reviews are just mad at the world and need someone to take it out on. Pay attention to 2-star and higher reviews, and you’ll get a less biased opinion.
- 5-Star Reviews – These are much more trustworthy than their 1-star counterparts, and should not be ignored, because happy customers are usually ecstatic and want to sing your praise, but you should also scrutinize them a little more to make sure it doesn’t sound like an employee or an affiliate is writing the review. Just hold the 5-star reviews up to the other signs in this article a little more closely.
- A good way to test if a review is fake is to copy a part of the review that sounds unique and paste it into Google to see if the same review pops up on a lot of different review sites. This only works on reviews, though…Not necessarily testimonials. We, for example, will use relevant testimonials on multiple pages of our sites.
- Anonymous reviews – These are worthless.
- Usernames with more than 4 or more numbers at the end – This means the username was probably automatically assigned and the review was just left automatically by a robot.
- Reviews left more than 2 years ago aren’t generally very helpful. If they’re positive, who’s to say the product is still any good. If they’re negative, the best companies realize problems in their product or service and fix them. Look for recent reviews.
- If the review uses similar "buzzwords" to the actual product site, it’s probably the company or an affiliate posting the review.
- Former employee reviews are useless…These reviews usually say something along the lines of, "I used to work for ABC Company, and I left because of their unethical blah blah blah." The more likely story is the employee was fired and is now trying hurt the company.
- Length of review – The longer, more detailed a review is, the more reliable it most likely is. If it’s a short, lazy review, especially if it’s a negative review for a course, the reviewer was too lazy to give anything valuable. What makes you think they weren’t too lazy to put the work into using the course they’re reviewing?
- Any review saying one product is better than another is obviously biased and most likely fake.
- If the review includes a promo code, coupon code or special discount link, it’s bogus.
- Full name of product in review multiple times – For example, "I LOVE XYZ PRODUCT 1550X! I just bought XYZ Product 1550X last week, and it’s made my life sooo much easier. Plus, they don’t advertise this, but in addition to making my floors the cleanest in my neighborhood, the XYZ Product 1550X also cures cancer!"
While this list can help you easily spot the fakes, there are still those sly, crafty marketers who will be able to write a review that passes all of these. Most of the time, though, their efforts will be in vain if they can’t get a link back to their own website. So always keep an eye out for those links. And in the end, you’ll want to verify any claims for yourself.
Have you seen any other red flags to look for when reading reviews? Leave a comment below with your favorite signs.