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BizReport : Search Marketing : November 03, 2021

Reports: Online listing views up, but so is review fraud

Consumers are easing farther out of their pandemic bubble every day, but before they head out they're looking to search engines for help. According to data out from Rio SEO there is a 62% YoY increase in traffic to Google Listings as shoppers look for local stores and other business information.

by Kristina Knight

There is an overall increase of 102% for local searches and a 30% increase in clicks for directions. Much of that increase is for the travel sectors with hotel websites seeing a 99% average increase in views, a 50% increase in clicks, and a 20% increase in searches.

"Search behaviors are strong predictors of consumer purchasing habits, and as coronavirus numbers are dropping, we're seeing macro trends emerging in travel and hospitality," said Mick Wilson, VP of Customer Success, Rio SEO.

While this is a good sign for local businesses, one other report may put a damper on some business' hope for a return to normal - that's because while consumers are searching for local businesses many may only be finding fraudulent - and bad - reviews, which could hamper their abilities to find local shops.

New data out from Uberall and The Transparency Company finds that most consumers (90%) are now looking online for product or business reviews prior to making a trip to the store. Positive reviews on sites like Google and Yelp can help a shopper find the right store, but fake reviews are growing. Uberall found that 130 million fake reviews were removed from Google in 2019 and 2020.

According to researchers Google is the number one review spot, visited by about 70% of shoppers; Google also has the highest percentage of fake reviews, at just under 11%. Yelp's fake percentage sits at about 7%, TripAdvisor at 5% and Facebook at 4.9%.

"Media coverage of review fraud has been growing, but nobody has quantified the problem," said Greg Sterling, VP of Market Insights, Uberall. "Unfortunately a lot of consumers take reviews at face value, and are being deceived. . .it's a multi-billion dollar problem."

This is especially important as, in the midst of a global pandemic, more consumers are looking for locally-owned and small businesses rather than typical chain stores. Uberall's data finds that most US consumers (82%) say they'll give more business to local brands because of the pandemic. If those shoppers cannot find a business or find only fraudulently fake reviews, that business will miss out on revenue.

According to Sterling, fake reviews contribute to consumers' mistrust of brands and/or products and believes more businesses should be working to combat the problem. Here are a few ways to combat review fraud:

• Utilize AI to find fraudulent reviews and enforce their takedown
• Simplify how consumers and businesses report fake reviews
• Use verification that ensures those leaving reviews are actual customers, such as 'verified purchaser' notations

More data from Uberall's State of Online Review Fraud report can be accessed here.

Tags: advertising, ecommerce, fraudulent reviews, online review trends, review fraud, Rio SEO, Search Marketing, search marketing trends, The Transparency Company, Uberall

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