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Spammy fake 'review stars' in SERPs

     
9:41 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What is happening Google? I thought you're committed to fighting spammy sites.

Since the recent updates, our business has suffered due to 1/2 amateurs popping up overnight and creating a site which - in the eyes of anyone searching Google, has 5 stars and thousands of reviews!

Upon further investigation, the websites have simply set up fake reviews on their site!

Do I join them? Why should we keep following Google's guidelines, only to be kicked when we're already down by spammers like these?

This, along with the rich snippets and author images being shown for homepages (why? - surely they would be better suited for article pages)?

AAAAAHHHHH

I give up! 10+ years' hard work, trying to play by the rules, all wasted...
7:35 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I give up! 10+ years' hard work, trying to play by the rules, all wasted...


One of my competitors is using those fake review stars too. Google seems to love it. Other popular tactics that seem to work are buying Facebook likes, buying Google+ followers and of course spam Twitter with automated tweets several times per day with links to your pages. Don't forget to let pinners steal your content since Pinterest is an indication of how popular you are. If people are not allowed to steal your photos, then Google might not love you any more!Pinterest might one day outrank you with your own content, but who cares?
7:59 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Could swear I saw an explanation of this phenomenon just the other day.
:: shuffling papers ::
Ah, here.
[xkcd.com...]
8:20 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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For the sites I manage, I also see a couple of competitors constant manipulating rich snippet (stars) by using same reviews on all pages including the Home page and Google simply likes it. Even tried sending a feedback to Google but that did not changed their unconditional love towards these spammers.
12:34 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I believe they mentioned that's one of the things they're going to address with their big ecommerce update that they warned about.
6:11 am on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg - Any idea on when the update is going to go live.
1:42 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Nope. This year.
2:34 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Can't blame anyone for trying it, being the only site with stars on a page certainly attracts eyeballs your way. I myself have tried manipulating rich snippets with varying success.

As far as calling those websites "spammy" just because they take traffic away from you?!? Don't think so, spam has nothing to do with it, in this case.
2:37 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@atlrus - sorry, but the site I am referring to is using a spammy technique by writing thousands of reviews manually on their site each week - somehow, Google believes these are real?

Fair enough if the reviews come from an external source but internally?

Maybe I should just join them!
2:54 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Maybe I should just join them!


I wouldn't do that. You never now how the ecommerce update might have a Panda or Penguin sort of effect on cheating websites.
2:57 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I can live in hope! However, the way things have gone for our site after the past few updates, despite us 'doing things by the rules', I feel completely dis-heartened.
3:04 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It all depends on the case, I guess. There are "review" sites which write their own reviews, others use visitor reviews.

If you mean that they simply post fake reviews - how do you expect Google to decide which reviews are fake and which real?

To be perfectly honest, Google's implementation of review stars was pisspoor - to this day there is no explanation of what the stars mean. Most people, I guess, would assume that it's some kind of rank of the page, rather than ranking within the content of the page. This is a big problem if you want to use it in a way Google wants you to use it, i.e. if your reviews bring the stars down to just 1 - most people will see this as a bad sign for your website, rather than the specific product/service being reviewed. I personally find myself feeling reluctant to click on results which show low star rating, even though I am well aware that the rating is not a reflection of the website itself.

Again, I wouldn't blame you at all if you splattered 5 stars all over. Google should've cleaned this mess a long time ago, but then, so much mess so little time...