The Impact of Spam Reviews on Consumer Decision-Making

On the internet, where information is just one click away, online reviews have become the ultimate go-to for shoppers seeking validation before purchasing. Yet, amidst this valuable feedback, there’s a growing concern – spam reviews hiding in the shadows.

Understanding Spam Reviews

Before we delve deeper, let’s get a clear picture of what spam reviews really are. Spam reviews are fabricated reviews, cunningly disguised as genuine feedback, infiltrating popular online platforms. These reviews can take on various forms – from the blatantly fake to overly positive or negative comments – all aimed at manipulating public perception. Imagine sifting through a sea of opinions only to discover that some are a far cry from reality – that’s the impact of spam reviews.

Spam reviews are more common now than ever, which is why, as of June 2023, Google has taken legal action against a bad actor who was deceiving and scamming consumers through spam reviews. They stated, “This [consumer protection] lawsuit is to build awareness that we will not sit idly by as bad actors misuse our products.” The bad actor they were filing against had posted more than 350 fake Business Profiles and littered them with over 14,000 fake reviews.

Although Google is attempting to take action against spam Google reviews, they cannot do it alone, which is why it is crucial that every user be informed and take action against this dilemma.

Consumer Trust and Perception

Consumer trust is the backbone of successful businesses in the digital era. However, spam reviews are jeopardizing this trust. Here’s how they impact consumer perception:
  • Misleading Information and Poor Choices
  • Spam reviews are often deceitful and intended to promote or demote a particular product or service falsely. When consumers encounter a barrage of fake positive reviews for a product, they may be persuaded to make a purchase based on misleading information. Subsequently, they might end up disappointed with their choice and regretful of their decision, leading to a loss of trust in online reviews as a whole.

  • Erosion of Consumer Trust
  • Trust is the foundation of the online review ecosystem. When consumers discover spam reviews on popular review platforms, it shatters their confidence in the authenticity of the entire review system. As trust erodes, consumers may become skeptical of all reviews, making them more hesitant to rely on them for decision-making. This skepticism can lead to a decrease in overall consumer engagement with review platforms, impacting both businesses and genuine reviewers.

  • Damage to Business Reputation
  • For businesses, spam reviews can be incredibly damaging to their reputation and bottom line. If a business falls victim to a targeted spam attack, it may see a sudden influx of negative fake reviews that tarnish its image. Even if these reviews are ultimately removed, the damage may already be done, as potential customers may have been deterred from engaging with the business due to the negative feedback.

  • Reduced Sales and Revenue
  • With consumers becoming more cautious about the authenticity of reviews, businesses may experience a decline in sales and revenue. Genuine positive reviews are powerful tools for attracting new customers, but when overshadowed by spam, businesses may struggle to showcase their true value and differentiate themselves from competitors.

  • Impact on Small and Local Businesses
  • Spam reviews can have a particularly devastating impact on small and local businesses. These businesses often heavily rely on positive online reviews to build a customer base and establish credibility. When faced with a barrage of fake negative reviews, their ability to compete on a level playing field with larger establishments diminishes, threatening their survival and growth.

  • Fractured Consumer-Brand Relationship
  • Consumers place a premium on transparency and honesty from the brands they interact with. When they encounter spam reviews associated with a particular brand or business, it creates a sense of deception and dishonesty. Such feelings can lead to a fractured consumer-brand relationship, making it harder for the brand to earn back the trust of its audience.
With all that being said, it’s crucial that consumers know how to recognize the red flags of spam reviews in order to prevent their perception from being unjustly swayed.

Identifying Spam Reviews

Spotting spam reviews can be quite challenging, given the clever tactics employed by spammers. However, there are certain red flags to watch out for:
  • Overwhelmingly Positive or Negative Reviews
  • Fake reviews often stand out as overly positive or negative, lacking specific details about the experience. Genuine reviews tend to offer a balanced perspective, highlighting both the positives and negatives of the reviewee’s experience.

  • Repetitive Language and Similar Wording
  • Be cautious of reviews that use identical phrases or language patterns across multiple feedbacks. This repetition might be a tactic used by scammers to create a false sense of legitimacy.

  • Sudden Influx of Reviews from New or Suspicious Profiles
  • A sudden surge in reviews from new or suspicious-looking profiles is a very common red flag. Fake reviewers often create multiple accounts to write false feedback, which is easy to notice by looking at the reviewer’s history and activity.

  • Familiar or Basic Reviewer Name and Avatar
  • Generic names or stock avatars on reviewer profiles might be the most major indicator of a fake account. Genuine reviewers typically have unique and identifiable profiles.

  • Reviewer Behavior and Frequency of Posting
  • Take note of the reviewer’s posting frequency and behavior. An excessive number of reviews posted in a short period can raise suspicion.

  • Unusual Timing of Reviews in Relation to Business Events
  • Reviews that coincidentally align with specific events, such as promotions or negative incidents, may indicate attempts to influence public perception. Genuine reviews are more likely to be based on the actual experience customers have had rather than external events.
  • Analyze Reviewer Profiles and History
  1. Checking the Credibility and Authenticity of Reviewer Profiles: Investigate reviewer profiles for legitimacy. Genuine reviewers often have a history of leaving reviews across various businesses.
  2. Identifying Suspicious Patterns in Reviewer History: Look for patterns in the reviewer’s history, such as multiple reviews for similar businesses or excessive praise without critical feedback.
  3. Cross-Referencing Reviews with Other Platforms: Compare reviews on Google with feedback on other review platforms to ensure consistency.
  • Compare Reviews with Personal Experience
  1. Evaluating the Relevance of Reviews to the Business or Service Offered: Assess whether the reviews align with the products or services the business provides. Reviews that mention specific details about the experience are more likely to be genuine.
  2. Cross-Referencing Reviews with Personal Experiences or Those of Others: Seek opinions from friends or family who have been to the business to gain a broader perspective. Multiple firsthand experiences can help validate or debunk reviews.
  3. Assessing Whether the Reviews Align with the Business’s Reputation: Analyze reviews in the context of the business’s overall reputation and public perception. Genuine reviews should align with the general sentiment surrounding the business.

Consequences of Spam Reviews

Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the real-life consequences of spam reviews. The consequences of spam reviews extend beyond mere deception. They have a detrimental impact on businesses and genuine reviewers as well. Imagine relying on false information to make a purchase, only to be utterly disappointed with the product’s actual quality. These stories are more common than we might think, and cause consumers to lose trust in the review system.

For businesses, the negative implications on brand reputation can be severe, leading to decreased sales and customer loyalty. Genuine reviewers may find it increasingly challenging to gain recognition and credibility in an environment tainted by deceit. Additionally, violations of platform policies, unfair competition, and false advertising are just some of the issues that arise when spammers manipulate reviews.

Overcoming the Impact of Spam Reviews

Thankfully, the battle against spam reviews isn’t a lost cause. Online platforms, businesses, users, and review sites play a pivotal role in the fight against spam. By proactively filtering out spam content and promoting transparent practices, they foster a more reliable environment for consumers to base their decisions on.

Encouraging genuine reviews and constructive feedback is another cornerstone of combating spam. By incentivizing users to provide honest and helpful reviews, platforms can nurture a culture of authenticity and reliability.

Evidently, consumers also play a vital part in this endeavor. By familiarizing themselves with the signs of spam reviews and reporting suspicious content, they contribute to the authenticity of the review ecosystem.

Best Practices for Businesses

For businesses, fake reviews can have a lasting impact on their brand image. By encouraging genuine feedback and actively engaging with customers, businesses can cultivate a positive online reputation that withstands the onslaught of spam reviews.

Addressing negative reviews and feedback professionally is equally crucial. A prompt and thoughtful response to dissatisfied customers can not only address their concerns but also demonstrate the brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

While defending a brand’s reputation is essential, it should be done ethically and transparently. If you suspect that a review is spam, do not hesitate to flag it following these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google My Business account.
  2. Go to the “Reviews” section.
  3. Find the fake review you want to flag and click on the three-dot menu next to it.
  4. Select the “Flag as inappropriate” option.
  5. Choose the reason why the review is inappropriate, which can include fake content or conflict of interest.
  6. Submit the flagging request to Google for review.

Remember that Google’s team will review the flagged review and determine whether it violates their guidelines. If Google confirms that the review is indeed fake, they may remove it from your listing.


As we draw this insightful journey to a close, we must recognize the impact of spam reviews on consumer decision-making. While the battle against spam is ongoing, our collective efforts as consumers, businesses, and platforms can create a more trustworthy review system. By prioritizing transparency, authenticity, and integrity, we pave the way for consumers to make well-informed choices, bolstering consumer trust and fostering a more positive digital future.