The Good, the Bad, and The Fabricated: How to Deal With Online Reviews the Right Way

September 30, 2021 - 12 minutes read

Your guide to getting the most from all of your online reviews.



Whatever your niche or industry, as a business owner, your customer relationships will ultimately make or break your business.

In the age of information, consumers value the opinions of their peers above all else—making online reviews one of the world’s most powerful business referral and brand awareness tools.


The ever-present power of online reviews


Just five positive reviews can increase the chances of a product being purchased by 270%. And, on average, people spend 31% more when a business receives positive online reviews.

But while positive online reviews are great for your business, it’s almost impossible to avoid public negative feedback. Yes, negative online reviews happen to the best of us, and they can cause reputational damage—if you don’t handle them with care.

There are ways of tackling negative online reviews for a positive business outcome, and we’re going to explore them soon. But while we’re at it, let’s not forget the rise of the fake review.

Eighty-two percent of consumers confirm they have read a fake online review within the past year or two. This may be alarming to read, but again, there are ways of spotting fraudulent feedback and dealing with it.

To help you win with online reviews of all varieties, we’re going to tell you how to tackle the good, the bad, and the fabricated.

Let’s start with the good.


Online reviews: The good


Good online reviews are positive in their nature. They will boost your brand reputation and encourage consumers to give your business a try.

Here are a few tips to help you squeeze extra value from your positive online reviews.

Social proof

Social proof is a potent way of maximizing the value of your good online reviews. Based on the notion that people will conform to the actions of others based on their behaviors or recommendations, social proof builds trust and accelerates commercial growth.

Typically, customer reviews are 12 times more trusted than product descriptions and sales content. If you want to maximize your good reviews, you should shine a light on them wherever you can. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Add a reviews tab or widget to your website so visitors can see your positive reviews and feedback with ease.
  • Publish positive customer feedback and testimonials in quote form on relevant store or web pages, including dedicated product landing pages, your homepage, about us page, and product descriptions.
  • Share customer testimonials along with eye-grabbing imagery across social media platforms at the times when your audience is most likely to engage.

Read: Our guide to using cognitive bias techniques to earn better engagement and drive more sales.

User-generated content (UCG)

When people create and share content through their social media channels, they earn 28% higher engagement than standard branded or company posts.

User-generated content is, in a sense, a branch of social proof—and you should use it to your business-boosting advantage.

If you branch out to customers that have given you good online reviews, you should reach out to them with an incentive (a free item or attractive discount code, for instance) to create a short social media post about your brand or business to share with their audience. Doing so will increase your brand reach while driving more people to your store.

To take this concept even further, read our practical guide on working with influencers to boost your eCommerce or retail success.

Get more good reviews

Another sustainable way of benefitting from positive online reviews is getting more of them. To earn more positive online reviews, you simply need to request them the right way. Here’s how:

  • Sign up to review platforms including Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Google My Business, Manta, and the Yellow Pages.
  • Create branded videos and ask for reviews and feedback in the comments section.
  • Incentivize people to leave reviews and testimonials across your social channels (directing them to your preferred review platforms) in exchange for free shipping, a discount code, or the chance to win a prize.
  • Add review touchpoints and opportunities at the right times in your customer journey. A post-purchase review page or a well-designed follow-up email will increase your chances of earning extra positive reviews while making your customers feel valued.


Online reviews: The bad


Now that you know what to do with good reviews, let’s move on to the bad ones. Believe it or not, When a customer interacts with negative reviews, they spend five times as long on a business’ online store or website. That means you have plenty of scope to engage with negative-review customers and turn them around.

Here’s how to deal with negative reviews.

Respond personally and swiftly

It always pays to respond to negative testimonials in a personable, timely fashion. Never leave them unattended or swept under the digital carpet—they will only come back to haunt you.

To deal with negative reviews with diligence, you should commit to offering personal responses to customer reviews across channels, commenting publicly where necessary. This simple yet effective approach will humanize your brand while proving that you’re dedicated to your customers. We all make mistakes, but it’s how we take ownership of them that really counts.

As such an important trust signal, providing consistent responses to negative feedback is vital. It’s also a chance to learn from your mistakes and make improvements to your customer experience (CX).

How to respond to negative reviews: Quick hacks

Here are some hacks on how to respond to negative customer reviews:

  • Be conversational rather than formal and always address the negative review customer by their name.
  • Apologize, sympathize, and take ownership of the issue early on in your response—preferably in that order.
  • Offer a viable solution to their problem and always thank your customers for their feedback.
  • Monitor your online presence with platforms and tools that will give you updates any time you receive a review or someone mentions your brand name online. This will help you connect—and deal with—any negative online reviews swiftly.


Online reviews: The fabricated


Finally, we move on to the fabricated. Fake online reviews are unfair, but unfortunately, they do exist. The best way to handle fake online reviews is to spot them and, if possible, remove them.

How to spot fake reviews

Identifying fabricated feedback and fake online reviews will ensure they’re removed before they cause any reputational damage. The good news is, most fake reviews share common traits, making them easier to spot once you know what you’re looking for:

  • A significant lack of specific detail
  • Excessive use of verbs or action words rather than nouns
  • Overuse of pronouns (I and me) in a bid to sound more sincere
  • A reviewer with a random and somewhat suspect review history. Someone that reviews a wide range of products in short spaces of time, often using very similar complaint styles or blocks of copied and pasted sentences.

How to deal with fake reviews

Once you’ve spotted a fake online review, you’ll be able to take action by reporting or removing it.

If your review came from Google, you can report a page violation, which will open up a case for getting the review removed from the platform. The same goes for almost every review platform—from Yelp to Amazon, Facebook Business, and beyond.

Take the time to understand the page violation or review flagging process (most are fairly simple) for each platform, bookmark the appropriate pages, and you’ll be ready to strike as soon as you spot a fake review.

While you’re waiting for the review process to run its course, you should aim to respond to your fake testimonial as if it were a genuine negative review. This is a template you can tweak as and when you need to:

Hi, [name].

Thank you for your feedback. We just want to assure you that we take these matters very seriously and apologize for any inconvenience caused. 

Regrettably, we don’t have a record or any recollection of your experience with us, nor can we verify your identity from your name in our records. But if you have done business with us, we will be happy to investigate this issue further. Please contact [name] at [email], and we’ll do our best to resolve the issue.

This approach will showcase your commitment to your customers while ensuring your brand isn’t plagued by fake reviews.


“Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.”—Earl Nightingale


We hope this guide to dealing with online reviews helps you create stronger bonds with your audience and steers you towards greater business success.

For more tips on developing your retail or eCommerce brand further, read our rundown of nine effective growth hacks.