what to do with fake google reviews

Are Google Reviews Reliable?

Reviews are incredibly important to businesses. They help to provide feedback to the company so they know where they excel or where they can improve as well as offering customers the chance to tell other potential customers about their experience.

Sadly, over time, businesses have found instances where they have been given fake reviews. This can have a detrimental effect on businesses, particularly smaller businesses who not only rely on reviews but sometimes have an emotional connection with any feedback they receive.

This begs the question, are Google reviews reliable?

Removing Old Google Reviews - Google Branding
Source: Old Google Reviews branding

Why are there fake Google reviews?

The truth is, there isn’t just one reason why fake reviews exist. Some reasons for these fake reviews include:

Competitors: Sometimes, fake reviews are written by competitors looking to discredit work by others. This is an unfortunate example of bad marketing which says a lot about their integrity and ways of working.

Internal reviews: It’s not completely unknown that there are some companies that will set up multiple Google accounts to leave themselves 5 star reviews to make them look better. There are also some instances where they have asked friends and family to leave reviews too. Again, this is unreliable information as these are biased and often not based on real experiences.

Local guide option gone rogue: A number years ago, Google unveiled ‘Local Guides’. This is where Google award points to people who interact with local Google My Business profiles. Points are awarded for reviews, answering questions about a place, uploading photos, responding to Q&As and a number of other things. These points can then be rewarded with cinema tickets and other perks from Google. The sad fact is that anything that can be used for personal gain often gets overused and abused. With this, there has been a sharp increase in fake reviews left by people looking to increase their points.

There are a number of other reasons as to why people leave bad reviews, such as a friend or family member having a bad experience and encouraging others to leave bad reviews or people who simply don’t like an upgrade or change to products that they haven’t bought yet.

How to spot fake reviews

Some fake Google reviews are more obvious than others, however, here are some ways to spot the fake reviews:

  1. Fake names: Names that sound obviously fake can be a good place to start. Whilst it’s not 100% reliable as there are some surprising names out there, it’s certainly a hint. For example, if you have a review from Homer Simpson and the information in the review just isn’t adding up, it could well be phony.
  2. Impersonal avatar: This is a little harder to judge by as there aren’t a huge number of people using an avatar (or profile picture) on Google. This is certainly one to look out for on other platforms such as Facebook. With fake reviews, it’s less likely that someone will take the time to upload a fake avatar too.
  3. The information just isn’t adding up: If you’ve checked through your database to find John Smith who’s left you a review and you just cannot find him, this could be because it’s not a real review.
  4. Incorrect information: If what the “customer” is saying doesn’t really make sense, there is always a chance that they meant to leave the review for someone else. They could also have simply made it all up.
  5. Vague information: Fake reviews often come with lack of further information or evidence. The review is purposely kept vague simply because they just don’t know the ins and outs of the business.

How to respond to fake Google reviews

If you’ve received a fake Google review, the first thing you ought to do is respond to it. It’s the opportunity to reassure other potential customers as well as providing answers to the points or complaints raised.

It can be tempting to hurl a number of rude sentences at these people, but please, avoid this at all costs. It can make you sound unapproachable as a business and unprofessional. Instead, be polite and courteous and explain that you do not believe this to be a real review. Try something like this:

“Thank you for your review. We appreciate the opportunity to learn more about how we can improve. Unfortunately, upon checking our database, we have not been able to find any matching customer details for you. We would like to find out more and how we can make things right for you. Please contact our customer service on [insert phone number or email address]”

This gives the customer the opportunity to provide more information if it is a genuine complaint as well as you the chance to put things right. It also shows others that you take reviews seriously.

How to remove fake Google reviews

You’ve received a fake review, you’ve replied to it, now what?  The next step is to flag it to Google. To do this, you will need to do the following:

  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Find the reviews section
  3. On the review, click on the 3 dots on the right hand side and ‘flag as inappropriate’

You should then hear back after 2 working days. In some cases, you may be asked for more information, although this is rare.

Unfortunately, this does not guarantee the removal of a review – but it’s still worth doing.

What should Google be doing?

Many business owners and marketers have argued that Google is not doing enough to banish fake or unreliable reviews. With that in mind, there are a number of suggestions that have been voiced that may help Google improve the user experience such as:

  • Providing a verification option. For example, Amazon reviews will state if the user has purchased the item. Although this could be seen as a bad comparison given that Amazon started suing fake reviewers.
  • Requiring more identifiable information.

Should we rely on Google Reviews?

Ultimately, Google reviews are great for getting an overview of a company. It provides an indicative idea about the way they operate and what they do. However, with the number of fake reviews out there, it’s worthwhile remembering that Google reviews do not guarantee you will have the same experience should you use the company you are reading the reviews of.

As a business owner, it is still worthwhile working on building up the good reviews and thus your company’s reputation, to show the positive service or products you provide. In the case of bad reviews, ensure you reply to them politely  – fake or not.

As with many things on the internet, give it some thought before taking someone else’s opinion as gospel.

An Introduction To Google Shopping

Google shopping is growing quickly. Businesses are finding it useful to promote and sell their inventory, drive quality traffic and reach new customers.

What Is Google Shopping?

If you’ve not used Google Shopping as an advertiser, the chances are you’ll have at least seen them in Google. Effectively, Google shopping is a way for advertisers, sellers and manufacturers to reach consumers via ads based on their searches. So, if you search for ‘Red Mens Shoes’ you’ll likely see some shopping product listings at the top of the page:

mens blue loafers. Google shopping example.

Why did you see this? It’s because when you clicked search, there was an auction where Google worked out if your search was relevant to any Google Search or Shopping Ads and in real time worked out which ads were the best to show you. This process will have worked out what to show you by considering your search term and its relevance to all products and ads from advertisers.

Who can use Google Shopping?

Google shopping works well for many businesses, but in particular the types of business finding great success include retailers (both major and independent), specialist sellers, drop shippers and manufacturers looking to go direct to customer.

You don’t need to be a huge retail juggernaut to benefit from Google Shopping, there are options for local businesses looking to sell nationally (or even internationally) via the main feed, or tailored feeds based on shopping in your locality or catchment area. This is particularly useful for businesses offering in-house delivery services or items that are difficult to move via a traditional courier.

Google have a policy regarding what you can and can’t sell, so it is worth checking that your product is listable before you begin.

All you need to get started is detailed below.

How does Google Shopping work?

The first port of call is to submit the product information through data feeds to Google Merchant Centre. The data feed requires information such as size, colour, EAN etc. You can use a Google sheet or .XML file to make the uploading process easier to manage (especially if you have lots of products or product variants). For many merchants, this main shopping feed is enough to sell your product effectively.

Don’t fancy the hassle of setting up a whole new Google Shopping feed? No worries, the Merchant Centre has you covered with a fairly recent update that allows advertisers to manually input information about the products.

This can be an arduous task and if you have a lot of products it’s probably best to stick to a feed. However, if you have a fairly limited number of products to promote this can be an easier option.

adding products to google merchant centre manually

Different Types of Google Shopping Feeds

Google have created other feeds for more specific shopping requirements (selling locally for example). The other available feeds are:

  • Google Promotions Feed
  • Google Local Inventory Ads Feed
  • Product Ratings Feed
  • Google Manufacturer Centre Feed
  • Dynamic Remarketing Feed

You will need to create a Google Ads account to manage your shopping ads (times shown, locations displayed to etc).

Once you have your data feed in the Merchant Centre and your Adwords account, you’re ready to start (hopefully!) taking orders from an enthused consumer base.

Remember to always make items as appealing as possible by using high quality photos that show your product in its best (and most appealing!) light. Use clear, crisp descriptions and avoid industry specific jargon. If your customer does not understand your acronyms, jargon or is otherwise left feeling confused, they won’t make the purchase, or worse; they will buy from your competitor.

Google Promotions Feed

This is not the easiest feed to deal with as there many restrictions on what you can promote, how long it can be promoted for and what kind of promotion is being run. Google also have to check that your promotion meets its requirements before going live. 

In essence this feed allows special promotions to be temporarily listed (up to 6 months) to advertise discounts, free gifts etc.

Google Local Inventory Ads Feed

These feeds are design to drive custom to your store (a physical bricks and mortar store that is). They are useful for companies selling big ticket items locally who tend to need a sales person to explain the products carefully. A kitchen or bathroom retailer would be a good example.

Product Ratings Feed

Simply put, this feed enables customers to view product ratings to make their choice (we’ve all seen the Google 5 star rating system – this is where it can be used to help customers ask further questions, check out a retailers reputation and to make that final purchase decision).

If you are a manufacturer and seller then this can be used to great effect in conjunction with the Manufacturer Centre Feed and the Dynamic Remarketing Feed detailed below.

People are more likely to buy products with lots of high ratings, so if your product has lots of positive feedback this could be the feed for you.

Google Manufacturer Centre Feed

For the makers, the creators and the manufacturers.

This feed is a bit specialist as it works differently from the other feeds, in that it is not strictly a direct to customer feed. This type of feed allows manufacturers to make sure that product descriptions are accurate and standardised and that their products are being represented and marketed correctly. 

This feed type allows manufacturers to improve their online product placement presence via the Google Manufacturer Centre (You’ll need to create a Google Manufacturer Centre account). By using GTINs the manufacturer can ensure product consistency and accuracy so sellers and buyers can be sure of exactly what they are getting and that any regulation or safety legislation is properly accounted for (suitable for 3+ years etc)

There are restrictions applicable, such as a different feed per country and up to 20 different product feeds per country.

Dynamic Remarketing Feed

This feed type allows for remarketing at people who have viewed your product previously but didn’t buy at the point of sale – or even abandoned cart before finishing. This feed type is useful to act as a reminder that the product is still available. The consumer may have closed their browser in a hurry, been ‘window shopping’ waiting for an event (birthday, anniversary etc), waiting to save up or waiting for payday to come around. They may not be entirely convinced that the product is right for them, a gentle reminder or nudge in the form of dynamic remarketing could be what turns a ‘maybe’ into a ‘yes’.

To use this feed, simply ensure that your Adwords and Shopping accounts are linked and create a new Dynamic Remarketing Feed. It can take 2-3 days to be approved by Google.

Conclusion

Google Shopping is a great way to get instant results and quality traffic to your product. As your potential customer is already looking for your exact product you have many opportunities using the Feeds listed to sell, tweak your listing, and ensure that your product is properly represented and accurately portrayed. 

To learn more about the benefits of having your Google Shopping feed run by an expert agency contact us today. We’d be happy to assist in turning your product into a sold product.

How Is Tech Disrupting The Digital Marketing Industry?

How Is Tech Disrupting The Digital Marketing Industry?

Guest post by Career Karma

The digital marketing industry evolved from traditional marketing in an effort to reach the consumer on the platforms they were spending their time. With the boom of the Internet, emails, and later on, social media platforms, people weren’t spending as much time watching TV or listening to the radio. 

But with every new technology, new strategies come to the table. Search engine optimisation is a clear example of this. Here are a few more technologies that are changing the industry. 

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is the interconnection between all the devices we use through the Internet. It has been increasing with the introduction of more smart technology like appliances and wearables. There are 7 billion IoT devices in use. The implications for the marketing industry lie mainly in having more information about each consumer. Digital marketers will need to adapt their strategies to reach the clients anywhere they are in the online world. 

One of the main areas where we will see changes is in SEO practices. Things like autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and buildings will make the current SEO strategies inadequate. For example, a campaign that includes SERP strategies will be ineffective on IoT devices that don’t even have a screen.

SEO experts will also need to concentrate on personalization. They will have more access to data, and not only online like it is today. They will need to learn how to analyze the user intent with new information added to the mix. And nowadays, most SEO strategies are centered around Google, but that may change with the increased use of IoT devices. 

Blockchain

Blockchain is the technology that gave life to all the cryptocurrencies known to date. It is a ledger that has three main characteristics: transparency, immutability, and decentralisation. It is decentralised because it is stored in many locations at the same time. It is transparent because all of the users can see the ledgers. It is immutable because users can’t change it without the consent of the whole network. 

Blockchain has many applications, but software engineers have created many decentralised platforms that are very secure and accessible to all. In digital marketing, it will increase the trust of indicators like click-through rates and eliminate bot-driven traffic. 

bitcoin and seo

The increase of transparency in the ad supply chain will make users trust them more, which will make them more likely to click on an ad. Blockchain will also have an impact on search marketing by changing payment methods with smart contracts. Overall, it will help create new advertising ecosystems based on blockchain technology. 

Voice Search

Another important tech development in the last few years is voice search. This was possible thanks to advancements in natural language processing, a type of artificial intelligence, and the introduction of artificial personal assistants like Siri or Alexa. It changes the way people do searches online, and digital marketers have to adapt to this new reality. 

According to Google, 72 percent of people that own a voice-activated device use it as a part of their daily routine. The way people do queries changes when using personal assistants. It becomes more conversational than when doing a written search. 

“72 percent of people that own a voice-activated device use it as a part of their daily routine”

Google

For example, SEO keywords optimization will need to be different. Instead of focusing on words, SEO experts will need to optimize focusing on phrases or questions. Users will also expect more conversational tones when choosing an answer, so creating content in a more informal tone may be essential. 

Machine Learning

Machine learning is also a type of artificial intelligence that has become essential in many operations nowadays, especially when it comes to using consumer data to increase personalization. Machine learning is a set of algorithms that teach a computer how to learn on its own. 

One of the main benefits is that computers can process data much faster than humans and get insights that would take us years to figure out. You can learn more about machine learning by reading Career Karma’s blog posts on the subject. Machine learning is also the technology behind many changes in Google’s search engine optimization practices. They use algorithms that can recognize things like link quality and link building activities.

In Summary

Technology developments have a direct impact on the digital marketing industry. This industry was born because of the inventions of new technologies like the Internet. Each new advancement has a direct impact on how to advertise products. The Internet of Things, voice search, blockchain, and machine learning are only a few of them. If you are afraid all these technologies will put you out of business, you can boost your digital marketing skills with a coding bootcamp online.

Google Passes on 2% Tax to its UK Advertisers

From November, businesses advertising on Google Ads (formerly AdWords) will be charged an additional 2% of their click costs.

For advertisers running ads in Austria and Turkey, they will now see a 5% charge from 1st November. The additional fees will be added to advertisers’ invoices as ‘transactions’. 

google announce 2% tax charge to advertisers in the UK
The announcement was made via an email on 1st September

The change comes from the announcement earlier this year, that the government will be charging digital service companies 2% tax. 

A full rundown of Google’s service fee changes can be found here: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9750227

So far, other PPC platforms do not appear to be doing the same. Facebook and Bing (Microsoft Ads) have not announced anything about passing on these charges. We have also been made aware that Amazon decided to pass on the 2% charge to its sellers. eBay has not followed suit.

We understand that this comes as a bit of a blow to businesses who use Google Ads, particularly after what some have seen as an especially turbulent year. If you require any further information or if you would like help with adjusting budgets, get in touch with us today: info@alixdigital.com

Negative keywords for Covid-19

With all Google Ads and Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads) accounts, it’s not just important to identify the keywords you do want to show up for. It is also essential to identify the keywords you don’t want to show up for. These keywords are called negative keywords.

Usually, this is a list you create at the start of running a campaign by researching what people are searching for and working with your client to identify terms that hint towards something they do not sell or provide. The chances are, this list will also grow over time. By looking at your search query reports (what people are searching for when your ads show up), you’ll likely find a whole bunch of terms to add as negative keywords that you possibly didn’t think of at first.

A change in browsing habits

It goes without saying, with the current pandemic, there has been a major shift in the way people are using search engines. Changes are different across a variety of industries and include; people spending more time searching and performing research before committing to a product or service, higher conversion rates for ecommerce sites, lower click costs and many more. 

We also cannot get away from how many people are sourcing information about Covid-19. Ever since the coronavirus was recognised, the number of searches for terms around Covid and pandemic-related terms has dramatically increased.

covid search trends

Google trends: looking at a small selection of Covid-19 terms over 6 months.

Example Coronavirus negative keywords

To help save time having to research over and over again and to help save you from wasting any money in your account on Covid-based terms, below is a list of keywords that you may want to consider adding to your account(s). 

Please be cautious to read through them first before implementing them. If they are indeed relevant to the business, you could be missing out on a wonderful opportunity to drive lots of traffic to your site.

Staying at home terms

“should i stay at home”
“should i stay home”
“staying home”
lockdown
“what is lockdown”
“how long will lockdown last”

Job/work terms

furlough
“jobs during furlough”
“covid jobs”
“can i work during furlough”
“what is furlough”

Head terms

covid
[covid 19]
coronavirus
“corona virus”

Financial terms

loans
grants
“government grants”
“how to get grant”
“how to get loan”
“am i eligible”

General advice

“how to wash hands”
“covid advice”
“coronavirus advce’

Gratitude for key workers

“say thanks”
gifts
presents
“clap for”

Medical terms

“virus test”
“corona test”
“covid test”

Wider terms

pandemic
virus
epidemic

Implementation

Remember that the easiest way to implement these terms is to place them into your shared library and attribute the list to all of your campaigns which require these terms to be excluded.

Whilst there’s no harm in implementing these at campaign level, you may find it takes a lot longer to do it this way and can get a little confusing to manage over time.

What about when it’s all over?

You may be wondering if it’s worth leaving these terms in the account or keeping them running. Whilst we cannot guarantee what searching habits will look like over the months to come, it’s a safe bet that people will still look up terms around Covid-19. For example, we’ll have people using historical information about the case such as journalists and in a number of years we could be telling future generations about this major event in history.

Long answer cut short, leave them in. Unless they are conflicting with the keywords and types of searches you want to show up for, there’s no harm in leaving them in.

Your thoughts

There are likely hundreds of unwarranted search terms cropping up and the lists above won’t have covered them all. Have you found any negative keywords worth sharing? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Related links

A basic guide to PPC keywords
Ways to save money on Google Ads