How to Validate User Reviews to Make them Authentic

Today, I got an awesome question in the support forum from one of our members asking what process could we use in order to validate the reviews to make them authentic?

This question inspired me to write up this post right away, and I decided to answer his question in details, hopefully he will find it useful, and benefit others as well.

Here is the complete question from the forum:

What process could we use in order to validate the reviews to make them authentic??? Some guy just commented on a post saying that there no process of validating the reviews to make them authentic ( smart ass )… He has somewhat of a valid point though,,,, whats your take on this? Is there a way for us to do this?…. I notice the same on wpleaders (great site by the way).

And, here is my answer…

Running and managing a product review site is not a simple job, in require a lot of attention and moderation work, really. If you run a product review site, then you must pay attention to big and small details, you need to ask yourself why should someone trust reviews on your site, and how to actually gain trust on the web.

In this post, I will try to give you some tips and ideas that may help you gain more trust to your reviews site starting from writing a trusted and authentic product review to validate user reviews and ratings on your reviews. However, I will be focusing on the user reviews part.

Increase trust of your product reviews

I will make this short and straight to the post as I’ve already published a couple of posts before addressing how to write a product review.

And how to make it reliable, trusted, and convincing (even though if it’s a paid review).

The whole point is about how authentic your review is. In a simple word; it’s all about writing honest reviews.

User Reviews Validation and Authenticity

Here is the part that answers the question! Here is 10 things you can do to make user reviews on your site authentic:

1- Avoid fake user reviews

Several companies, products producers, authors, web masters, and affiliate marketers are trying to get as many reviews and testimonials as they can for their products. There are other companies and individuals offering paid-for positive reviews. Avoid these and stick only with authentic reviews.

Since I release my WordPress Reviews plugin, and I highly recommend transparency, you really want to do this. Remember, you are not trying to make a quick sale, you are building a review site which need to gain trust, no made up reviews should be punished in any way.

2- Open for all opinions

Some webmasters of website owners approve only positive user reviews. Well, this won’t take you anywhere!

You see, nothing is perfect in this world, every product has its pros and cons. People are not stupid, they are seeking real experience, don’t hide or remove negative user reviews (try to deal with them), and give a clear message to your readers.

Be open to all opinions, be real (don’t game the system).

3- Validate and approve every review manually

If you are getting user reviews on your site, then I recommend you sent them all to moderation (don’t publish them as they are submitted) unless you have set a trust level for those who regularly review products on your site. This to avoid fake reviews, and eliminate chances for competitors to jump in and manipulate your reviews.

4- Allow Registered Users only reviews

A better way to go is to have users registration, only registered users can submit their reviews. You can them moderate the registration process itself and make sure you only trusted members on your site can submit reviews. By this way, you don’t have to bother demonstrating their reviews in the future, you publish these reviews on the site instantly.

5- Add reviewer website link

The more details you provide about your reviewers, the more trust you get. For example, when someone adds a link to her/his site when submitting the review, this adds another trust level for the review reader and site visitors in general as they can click on the site and see that this person is real.

6- Go Social

Using social authentication to get reviews could be a great idea, the thing here is you allow only people with a specific social profile to submit reviews on your site. By this way, you are providing additional details about reviewers to anyone who reads the review as they could check who is this person by simply viewing her/his social profile page.

7- Google authorship

Since Google released Authorship, I try to implemented on all my sites. I also require authors and guest bloggers to use it when they register an account on the Famous Blog.

I like this feature a lot because I believe it has some SEO benefits, plus is adds some kind of trust on the web. It simply separate those trusted authors from other un-known writers. The more details you can provide about your authors or users, the more trust you will gain.

8- Personal Photos

Publish only reviews from those who have a personal photo attached to their email address via a universal service like gravatar.com, this should increase trust as people see who is reviewing the product, and they may recognize them them on the web as a trusted users.

9- Flag reviews

A good idea is to add a feature to allow readers to flag any user review on the site and report them to you. So, anyone suspect a user review, or feels there is something wrong; they simply can report it to you with one click. You then must check these reported reviews and investigate them before making a decision whither to keep them or remove them completely from the site.

Taking a good action will increase trust of your reviews.

10- Provide a method for others to validate too

Some sites allow only a user review to be submitted by those who have already purchased and used the product, means you can’t submit a traditional comment or ask a question in the review comment section.

Here, you need to think; what about those who didn’t purchase the product yet?!

Why not open for them?! This can be done simply by enabling threaded comments, which allow a comments to be placed on a user review. It can penitent your site in -at least- two ways:

  1. Give a chance for people to ask questions about the product they are about to purchase. (this will allow you to provide ore details about the product in the review section by answering these questions).
  2. Increase engagement on the site (more increase trust)

Conclusion

If you run a product review site, then you should pay attention to where user reviews are coming from, in other words; you need to validate reviews on your site. Try find a way to increase reader trust by adding more details about reviewers, a great way to gain trust is to go personal as possible.

Do you have another idea to be added?

I appreciate if you add a comment and share your view with us.

Comments

  1. Hi Hesham,

    Thanks for writing this post.

    (1) A feature that I would really love to see in your new Reviews plugin is the ability for users to thumbs-up/down reviews to help others easily weed out the unhelpful reviews. Amazon has a “was this review helpful” link at the end of each review, and then the reviews can be sorted by the most helpful. Is this a feature that you could add to your plugin?

    (2) You mentioned in the above blog post that it’s a good idea to allow users to “flag” comments/reviews if they suspect dishonest or spammy reviews. Is this a feature of your review plugin as well?

    (3) One other unrelated feature I would love to see in your reviews plugin is the ability to sort rated posts using the Bayesian sorting algorithm, or something more sophisticated than simple chronological order, or “highest/lowest” rated posts.

    The only plugins I could find with the above features were MyReviewPlugin and WPReviewEngine. But it seems that both of those plugins have been abandoned by the developers and no longer have any technical support.

    Let me know what you think about my feature requests.

    Thanks,
    – Colin

    • Hi Colin, thanks for the great feedback.

      1) I’ve got this on my to do list for a while now and I will probably include it in the plugin. However, it can be done easily by some plugins I’ve seen.

      2) No, not yet 🙂

      3) That one is great, I’ve been looking into it and it makes a lot of sense, really. I would love to add this feature as part of the plugin (I appreciate it, and thanks for the heads up).

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