Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and Yelp are regarded as the most unreliable review sites, according to a new ratings system introduced by the online reputation management firm, KwikChex.
Chris Emmins, co-founder of KwikChex, said that the five-tier ratings system, which is currently being introduced to its own online site, is intended to provide consumers with information on which sites are most reliable as a time of growing concern about review fraud.
"Review site owners will be contacted as ratings are published and are welcome to challenge the provisional ratings," said Emmins. "We are also encouraging them to have impartial and independent testing carried out on key aspects of reliability."
KwikChex intends to publish ratings on as many review sites as possible, commencing with those that are most influential in research results.
With five stars awarded to the most reliable review sites, provisional examples of ratings include the top rating to Booking,com, four stars to Angie's List, three stars to Trustpilot, two stars to TripAdvisor and Yelp and one star to Google Reviews.
KwikChex is awarding five stars to sites where all reviewers are identified as verified purchases of the business reviewed. At the other end of the ratings scale, one star will be attached to sites which have a low level of authentic reviews, fraud detection and a lack of a disputes system.
In response to these comments, TripAdvisor spokesperson Laurel Greatrix told Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "The integrity of the content on our site is our number one priority, and we completely stand by our independently endorsed review integrity processes. Our greatest endorsement is from our users, who keep returning in ever greater numbers. Visitors to TripAdvisor grew 40% in the last 12 months alone, as we continue to be the world's largest travel website.
"The reality is, while no system is perfect, if consumers didn't feel that the information they see on the site is an accurate reflection of their actual experience, they wouldn't keep coming back. We expend significant efforts with respect to manual and electronic fraud detection in order to maintain the quality and authenticity of user reviews. No online review site, verified or not, can provide a 100% guarantee that every single user-submitted review is authentic.
She continued: "This rating system has been created by a company with clear commercial interests in undermining confidence in open user-generated platforms. It therefore comes as no surprise that the criteria set out entirely favours the company publishing it and the related services the company offers."
By Janet Harmer
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