Fake App Reviews Attack and Their Impact on App Companies

By James Tredwell on November 8, 2019

The Google play store and the App store are loaded with thousands of mobile apps. From expert app development companies to ‘not so professional’ companies. Finding the right company is becoming difficult every passing day and ‘reviews’ are one way of figuring out whether a company is worth your time. I have developed a habit of checking the reviews and ratings of anything that I’m about to purchase online. Honestly, I have to read the reviews of everything. This habit has extended to other areas of my everyday tasks as well, such as installing mobile apps. But, you can never really tell the difference between authentic and fake app reviews.

I’m pretty sure that the majority of you do the same. But, sometimes it happens that I come across an app that isn’t as good as stated in the reviews. Or, the app is amazing, but it has a shocking number of negative reviews. If you consider the fact that majority of the users will go to your reviews before installing your app, just imagine how negative reviews can impact the app conversions. Just have a quick look at the statistics below (source: Apptentive).

If 79% of the visitors you get, read the negative reviews on your app, then your app downloads will have a drastic downfall. This is exactly what happened with the CNN mobile app, it suffered countless 1-star ratings from Trump supporters that were hellbent on tanking the mobile app. These negative review attacks can negatively impact a company’s reputation. Furthermore, if you look at it from an SEO and ASO perspective, online reviews are an important ranking factor to a search engine’s algorithm.

Taking all this into consideration, it’s pretty obvious why your competitors can coordinate negative review attacks on your mobile apps.

Below I’ve rounded up the consequences that mobile app companies have to suffer because of negative reviews.

Lower Search Engine Ranking

The search engines are well aware of the fact that your star ratings have an immediate effect on how users perceive your mobile app. As a result, both Google, as well as app store search engines, will rank your products according your app ratings.
Your app’s average rating determines whether it will start ranking on search results or not. If you have fewer or lower app ratings, then the chances are that you’ll have less visibility and search ranking. If your competitors have higher ratings as compared to your 1-star ratings, the app stores will indefinitely choose to give more visibility to the well-rated mobile app.
On the other hand, greater number of good reviews and ratings will boost your app’s ranking and popularity.

Another important thing to remember is that the keywords in your app reviews also have a massive impact on your app store ranking. You might have noticed that you start ranking for keywords that you’re not targeting, app reviews are one of the reasons why you start ranking for them.

Reputational Risk

Do you remember David Caroll’s Guitar scandal with united airlines? If you don’t then let me fill you in.
The United Airlines had damaged David’s guitar and they refused to pay for the damage. So David Caroll wrote the song ‘United Breaks Guitars’. It became a worldwide sensation with millions of views. As result of this one video, United Airlines lost around $108 million.
With a bad company image, it’s nearly impossible to conduct any business. Negative customer reviews are a strong indicator of a bad company reputation. Where a single 1-star rating can result in a nine times increase in revenue, a single negative review can have the opposite impact. Nobody will want to take their business to a company with a bad reputation.

Difficult to Fix

In a world that is run by the Internet. Online reviews can either drive users to or away from your company. Having fewer reviews or an ‘abundance of negative reviews’ can make it very difficult to build your company’s reputation. It can be hard to gain customer trust and as result your conversions continue to decline.

How can I Combat Fake Review Attacks?

Before I move on to explaining how you can fight against fake app reviews, it’s essential that you learn how to spot a fake. Watch out for the following factors:

  • Vicious language:
    Even a genuine negative review doesn’t use a vicious language. Watch out for the tone of your reviewers.
  • Very Generic Criticism:
    Authentic reviews contain specific information about the problem that the user has faced. If the review fails to highlight any specific problems, then it’s probably fake.
  • Overly Positive Reviews for Your Competitors:
    The negative reviewer leaves overly positive reviews for your competitors. This could be a major ploy.
  • Multiple Reviews in a Small Time Span:
    Bogus reviewers tend to leave multiple reviews in a small time span. Watch out for these reviewers.

After you have analyzed your reviews and you’re sure that they are fake. Here are some steps you can follow to combat them:

Verify Your Transactions:

Whether you’ve launched a paid or a free app, keep track of the users that have downloaded your app or have made transactions. Furthermore, you can also ask users to fill in a form asking for their information while they install your app. When you have your app installs and transactions tied to your ratings and reviews, the chances of fake app reviews will decrease. You can easily spot out the fake reviewer, in fact, you can even let them know that you only entertain authentic reviews.
This is very helpful for preventing automated reviews by bots and for blocking fake app reviews by your competitors.

Leave Feedback:

Don’t try to get in an argument with the user. Keep your emotions and your tone in check. Provide your feedback about the user’s concern, take the conflict-resolution approach. If the review appears to be generic, ask for more clarity.

Report The Reviewer:

The best approach to take is to report the reviewer. Figure out how the reviewer is violating the platform’s guidelines and reach out to them asking for help. It is definitely a tedious process, but, it is worth it struggle.

Be Transparent:

The best way to preserve your company’s reputation is to be transparent about it. Share the problem you’re facing with your followers on multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit). After you share your experience you will not only be bringing more exposure to your brand, you might even get some positive reviews. Be open about the dilemma that you’re facing, your honesty will help you develop positive publicity.

Use Multiple Marketplaces:

Expand your reach and try to provide your services on multiple platforms. The more marketplaces you’re available on, the more visibility you gain.

It’s A Wrap:

I’m hoping you found this article. Mobile app developers and app development companies have to be aware of fake app reviews. A single negative review has drastic consequences on your sales and conversions.

I’m really interested in learning about your experiences. Have you ever experienced a fake review attack? If you have, tell us all about it.

Author Bio: Khloe Hunter is a Digital Marketing Executive for a mobile app development company in Dallas. Her expert writing skills enable her to convert complex information, into content that anyone can read. Her technical educational background, combined with the know-how of content marketing, gives her an edge over others in a variety of blog posts.

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