Amazon is the place to get just about anything, from a Unicorn Mask to a cardboard cutout of Buddy the Elf. But behind every amazing product is a fake review (or 20), either to deter you from buying something or trick you into bupurchasing less-than-stellar products.
Sometimes they are easy to spot — and humorous, too — but what about the ones that seem legitimate or are just on the cusp of being true? How do you spot them, and what are you supposed to look for? Below, we’ve listed a number of websites and a couple tips to help you decipher Amazon reviews like a pro.
Fakespot offers a new way of filtering product reviews, allowing you to find what actual people are saying about the products. The proprietary technology analyzes millions of reviews and finds suspicious patterns and discrepancies. It will then take out the reviews that seem too good to be true, so you can make an unbiased, reliable purchase.
All you need is the URL of the product in question, which you copy and paste into the site. Fakespot will then scan and analyze information from both the review itself and the person who created the review. Fakespot will then give it a grade ranging from A to F; an A means that 90 to 100 percent of the reviews and reviewers are reliable, and F means only 44 percent (or less) of the information is reliable. It will also give you a company grade, which takes the average of all product reviews.
When analyzing product reviews, Fakespot takes a look at certain “credentials” from the reviewer and the review itself. From the reviewer, it looks to see if it’s a verified purchase, and if the dates and content correlate. It also takes into account frequency and purchase dates, as well as various purchasing patterns. On the review front, it analyzes the writing style, grammar, and spelling correlation, and looks to see whether the dates and content correlate.
We recently decided to put the site to the test using our comprehensive guide to the best headphones. Our No. 1 pick are the Sony WH-100xM2, which are currently available for $348 on Amazon. When we pasted the URL into Fakespot, the results were not surprising.
The headphones were awarded an A, meaning that more than 90 percent of the reviews were of high quality. Fakespot also provided an analysis overview, detailing what they found and other facts that might be of interest to the buyer.
ReviewMeta functions much like Fakespot. All you need to do is paste the URL of the product in question, and the site will analyze the reviews and search for unnatural patterns, awarding the product with a pass, warn, or fail. Do keep in mind, however, that a low grade does not mean it’s a fake product, just that their algorithm detects some unnatural patterns throughout the product reviews.
ReviewMeta also provides some additional information, like how many of the reviews were unverified purchases, and how the word count of a review can affect its validity. This provides a more all-encompassing overview of the reviews and gives you some insight into whether you can trust them or not. To see how ReviewMeta compares with the aforementioned Fakespot, we once again entered the URL for our favorite pair of headphones — aka, the Sony WH-100xM2 — into the website.
Surprisingly, ReviewMeta gave us different results. The website flagged more than 200 reviews as suspicious and adjusted accordingly. The product only dropped 0.1 of a star as a result, however, so it’s safe to assume the headphones will still live up to the rest of the reviews. Both websites are good for a basic overview, but neither are 100-percent reliable. Use your discretion, and when in doubt, side with common sense.
Each of the aforementioned websites is a good resource for quickly discerning the quality of Amazon reviews, but there are some additional things you’ll want to keep in mind when looking at the reviews themselves.
Keep an eye on the language
If it reads like an infomercial, then there is a high probability that it’s fake. If the review looks at all unnatural — if it’s in all caps or the punctuation is simply off, for instance — you may want to be wary of the review.
Check for a website
If the manufacturer of the product you’re looking at doesn’t have a website, then you should be skeptical. Warranty claims are far harder to redeem when Amazon is your only point of contact.
Be wary of similar images
If most reviews contain a similar set of photos or appear staged, that should also be a red flag. In this case, the company behind the product may have asked reviewers to shoot it in a way that highlights a particular facet of the product.
Note the reviewer
If they’ve only written one review, or if they’ve written a bunch over a relatively short period of time, that’s cause for concern. Reviews that are short and formulaic can also be fake.
Pause on the Vine reviews
You may have seen the phrase “Vine Voice“ or “Amazon Vine Review” next to names on Amazon, which indicates that these reviewers are part of the invitation-only Vine Program. These reviewers often get access to products before they’ve been released, for free or at a substantial discount, for the purpose of writing reviews on them.
There are potential issues with this, however. Some reviewers may be less critical of products they receive for free, for instance, while others may be less likely to circle back and provide insight into how a product holds up in the long term. Then there’s the whole issue of those with zero knowledge of a particular product segment leaving a review. After all, someone who’s never spent time with a quality pair of headphones may not know what a particular pair of cans are missing.