Fake Amazon reviews giving unknown brands an SEO bump, says Which?

At issue is a large volume of glowing five-star reviews posted by unverified users, often on a single day

Consumer watchdog Which? has warned of a glut of ‘fake’ Amazon reviews are propagating to such an extent that they risk undermining the integrity of the trading platform itself.

An investigation revealed tens of thousands of suspicious reviews appearing on the platform every day, handing unknown brands an unwarranted SEO bump in the process as consumers unwittingly zero in on products which are not all that they appear.

At issue is a large volume of glowing five-star reviews posted by unverified users, often on a single day. Drilling down further into the suspect listing’s analysis uncovered evidence of supplication as well as glowing endorsements for entirely different products being posted on a single listing.

More perniciously researchers found evidence that such content had the potential to unfairly propel listings for little-known brands further up search rankings. In one example illustrating the power of the technique, the group searched for ‘headphones’ only to find 100% of the results for the highest-rated products related to ‘unknown’ brands.

The scale of such activities is further illustrated by a finding that 71% of products on the first page were given five-star reviews, the bulk of which originated from unverified users.

Defending its policies Amazon asserted that "Even one inauthentic review is one too many," adding: “We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies."

Which? has previously masterminded a fake reviews advertising campaign devised by Grey London to educate the public on the spread of anonymous reviews.

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