How Many Fake Online Reviews Are There? What The Data Suggests

Rob Woodgate



Most of you will be aware of how useful online reviews can be for your business.

When you have positive reviews, it increases your chances of getting further business – and reviews can help you make important business decisions.

However, while there are many well intentioned online reviews out there, there are also plenty of fake reviews online, many of which can be dangerous to your business and cause several other problems.

But how many online reviews are fake?

Well, according to research, around 4% of online reviews are fake.

However, there’s plenty more to unpack here including the impact of these reviews to eCommerce businesses and how much it can cost.

So, if you’re looking to learn more – then read on!

Fake Reviews – A $152 Billion Problem

In 2021, the World Economic Forum analyzed the leading review and eCommerce platforms and found that on average, around 4% of online reviews are fake. [1]

Their data suggests fake reviews are directly responsible for 152 billion dollars in global spend. The indirect impact is much higher, and can be broken down country by country.

In the United States, fake reviews influenced $791 billion dollars of spend. In Australia, this figure is around $900 billion and in the UK this figure is around $5 billion.

But how is this still happening and how is it costing this sort of money?

Let’s examine it a little further.

Fake Reviews – A Lucrative Market

Considering these figures, it’s hardly a surprise the market for fake reviews is booming.

Unscrupulous (and sometimes desperate) businesses can be tempted to buy fake reviews because the return on investment is so high.

For example, an extra Yelp star can increase a restaurant’s revenue up to 9%.

Conversely, if a business was to underhandedly buy fake negative reviews for their competitor, they could appear to be more attractive – as the data suggests that customers will not use a business if they read negative reviews.

In fact, there are multiple groups out there that can charge between 25 cents and 100 dollars per review for a business.

So, with such a huge problem with fake reviews – what can you do about it?

Let’s look at this in the next section.

What Can You Do About Fake Reviews?

How many fake online reviews are there what the data suggests (3)

Well, it depends on where these fake reviews have been posted. We’re going to break it down a little further to try to answer this question.

Filter Your Reviews

The first thing you have to do is to scour your reviews and discover which ones are genuine and which ones aren’t.

This can be a little tricky as you may have hundreds or even thousands of reviews.

As fake reviews can be created by bots or by real people, it can often be even more complicated to know the differences.

However, there are some signs you should look out for.

Head To The Most Critical Reviews

Generally, fake reviews that are the most harmful to businesses are the most critical or lowest scored reviews.

Therefore, the first thing you should do is look through most critical reviews and pay close attention to who has posted the review and what was said.

Look At Who Wrote The Reviews

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all of your customers, however, you might be able to recognize or remember certain customers – as a result, you might know a customer that is not genuine.

If you suspect a reviewer to be fake, then you should report it immediately.

Read The Content

Fake reviews often have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes and of course, will have illegitimate comments.

They may use emotional language to hammer home the story, and may include excessive capitalization and punctuation to draw attention.

They may also use use vague generalizations, as they have no real experience with your business.

If you spot any of these signs – you should report them as soon as possible.

Write A Press Release

If you are having a particularly bad time with lots of fake reviews, you should write a press release to your customers and potentially new customers.

On your website, social media and email alerts – tell all of your customers about the problems you have been having.

Once your customers are aware that a lot of the reviews are not genuine, then you might be able to reduce some of the damage that these fake reviews can lead to.

While this won’t fix everything – it could potentially limit the problem.

Monitor Incoming Reviews Closely

Many businesses employ someone to perform online tasks, such as managing the businesses social media accounts and website.

One of these tasks that these employees can do is closely monitor incoming reviews.

If you are able to pay attention to reviews as they come in, it will make it much easier to manage fake reviews as you can take immediate action.

See our article on review monitoring for more info.

Proactively Ask For Reviews

Proactively asking customers for reviews is one of the most best things you can do because you’ll get more reviews than if you leave it to chance.

This helps you build up a strong average rating, which won’t be damaged by the odd negative review (fake or otherwise).

Using a system like Trust Vega can help you stay on top of review collection.

Can You Simply Ignore Fake Reviews?

Many people will ask, if there are on average simply 4% of fake reviews, then couldn’t you just ignore these reviews entirely?

Well, while the choice is ultimately down to you, it’s always advised that you take action.

Ignoring fake reviews could end up being costly to your business.

The data tells us that customers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from their friends or family.

Indeed, as we mentioned earlier, potential customers are likely to avoid businesses entirely or refuse to shop with them again if they read negative reviews.

So, if these fake reviews are negative, it’s certainly not a good idea to just ignore them as this could be detrimental to your business.

It is a good idea however, that you always respond to reviews – whether you believe them to be fake or genuine.

This gives your business more credibility and lets customers know that you actually care about their opinions regarding your products or services.

Final Thoughts

So the data tells us that 4% of all online reviews on average are fake and it is a growing problem which can be extremely costly to you and others’ businesses.