How Google and Yelp Protect Against Fake Reviews

The benefits of expanding your business’s reach and fanbase through customer reviews is lucrative, as a customer’s word is the best source of true credibility. This has become a valuable tool over the last decade, and the two main players have revealed a list of new features last year that helped businesses communicate more effectively during the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, fraudulent claims are rampant on these platforms, and imposters can seek to harm a business by filling their claims pages with listings that are untrue. These are some of the easiest ways to drag down a businesses’ credibility, but don’t worry! There are ways that these fake reviews are being monitored. 

Investigative Work Via Automated Detection: Looking at a user’s typical pattern can be a huge help when identifying review content that may not come from a reliable customer. What are commonly known as “click farms” have been responsible for generating inauthentic reviews in the past. Machine learning models have also helped to detect face profiles before they take place on Maps. Since many fake reviews can still get past these methods of detection, Google also deploys the human touch of analysts to help.

One The Mend With Content Moderation: These analysts strategize with in-depth evaluations of algorithms that can hone in and even understand dialects and slang specific to certain cities and counties, which is a huge help within the restaurant review genre. There are many things that Google has kept under wraps regarding the way these highly skilled people search for clues, but we know that staying ahead of dishonest people takes every advantage possible.

Yelp’s Method of Policing Fraudulent Activity: If any engaged community member, owner of a business, or their complex system in place alerts their team about an issue, they choose human eyes every time. Even though fake reviews can cause a brief disturbance in positive traffic and revenue, we have been encouraged to see some of the heavy hitters such as Yelp be very adamant about information found on business profiles and their willingness to issue consumer alerts.

What are the Consequences for Repeat Offenders? As the very first point of action, reviews deemed as fake will most likely be taken down. 55 million of these were removed last year alone! Yelp has taken the liberty of segregating reviews that are deemed as less reliable to be moved into a “not currently recommended” category. Once reviews are live, it is difficult getting them removed from Google’s platform, but Yelp may impose their own judgment for removal of fake or purchased reviews. 

When a business violates Google’s policies, the content is subject to immediate removal, and there may be additional penalties afterward. Yelp issues a search ranking penalty, which can be lifted once it has determined the misleading behavior has been halted. Yelp may completely remove businesses that are attempting to falsely manipulate the system from its platform privileges, where Google’s business team can go as far as to revoke Business Profile ownership in its entirety. 

Yelp bans businesses for up to a calendar year if they trigger Suspicious Review Activity Alerts and can exercise their power to ban businesses from advertising altogether if they feel they are using tactics that manipulate search or star rankings. Google does not carry stiff advertising penalties for businesses that violate policies when it comes to organic content, and Yelp tends to rely more on its actual users to report what could be taken as fraudulent and misleading.