Colored Hats? What?
Some of you might be asking, what does white hat and black hat mean when it comes to removing reviews?
It’s very simple.
White hat review removal tactics are ethical, legal and are the best way to remove bad reviews that qualify for removal without much effort.
Black hat review removal tactics are unethical, illegal and require tremendous effort.
As an online reputation consultant, I can tell you that most companies paying for review removal are unaware of the type of tactics being used to get results. Usually black hat tactics are used by companies and consultants that are only paid when results occur.
Providing review removal as a software company, we keep everything on the up ad up and we believe we are the first to accomplish this task using machine learning and automation.
Watch Out for “Guaranteed Results”
Our competitors however offer review removal on a “guaranteed” basis and do things manually. Here’s a few things that make use different:
a. Guaranteed Results Type 1. These are review removal providers that don’t guarantee the review will be removed but will guarantee you won’t pay anything unless something gets removed. Since 10-20% of all reviews qualify for removal, they can usually get some removed without any black hat tactics.
b. Guaranteed Results Type 2. These are review removal providers that DO GUARANTEE removal, this is when you need to be weary of black hat tactics. If bad review doesn’t qualify for removal, there are certain things can be done externally to make the review qualify for removal.
– This is when a reputation consultant will have an entire profile duplicated. They will duplicate all the reviews, photos and information of a profile in hopes to trick an administrator into removing the original review – that way they can remove the original themselves after they get the result they want. The results here are often inconsistent.
– More and more administrators are catching on to cloning techniques
– Sometimes they remove both profiles, sometimes they remove the original, sometimes they remove the new profile. Normally somethings gets removed which is why the cloning process is done.
It is highly illegal. It is unethical as well, as bad reviews for other businesses will harm their rating.
Please note: the FTC can fine you and the reputation consultant up to $250,000 USD for astroturfing, even when related to a single review removal approach.
– Rather than cloning an account, some ORMS will duplicate the review and change just a few of the words to make the bulk of it plagiarized. Most review websites hate plagiarized review which is why they will remove it.
This is also illegal, and unethical because you have to copy a bad review and tailor it to another business. Most clever ORM’s will even wait 2-3 months to flag/dispute it so the challenge appears more authentic.
Creating Digital False Bias Assets
– Review websites have a lot of rules why reviews can be removed. That being said, it’s easy to look at the content and choose one of those rules, and build out a synthetic asset to provide some backup to your claim.
Heres an example:
A company got a bad review by someone with a regular name, and profile photo that identifies them fairly easily.
What some ORMS will do is create an entire website, social media presence and all that identifies and labels this reviewer as an employee of a competing local business.
While organically it did not qualify for removal, it will now because of the false bias the assets can provide. This is what makes it black-hat.
Risk vs Reward
The chances of getting caught are not high, but they are real. Everything done on the internet is recorded and archived. Algorithms are getting smarter at predicted review fraud and eventually ORMS will have to get their hands even dirtier to accomplish black hat tactics.
The reward of course involves a successful removal, which black hat tactics do not guarantee. While they may “qualify” a review for removal, it’s artificial and administrators are getting better and better identifying the signs of fraud.
People appreciate honesty
While bad reviews can hurt your business, bad business practices will hurt it even more. A good response to a bad review can evaporate a lot of that doubt and fear a potential customer might have. People read reviews because they want to know 1 thing:
If I spend money with you and something goes wrong, will you take care of me?
A well written response can provide that reassurance despite anything the review says. A well written response can provide a tremendous amount of confidence and get people to purchase.