Buying fake TripAdvisor reviews

I administer several travel websites – including accommodation properties – and each site has a unique email address. For the accommodation sites I get emails related to running a hotel business, including services that offer to post fake TripAdvisor reviews.

The emails are usually from a Gmail account with a name that doesn’t identify it to any company (of course). Here is the latest email I received offering to fake reviews:

Hi Sir,

Hope you’re doing well.

If you have travel holiday hotel Let me introduce you about TripAdvisor a premium travel reviews site,most of people who travel worldwide first make a check out about hotels on this site.

Do you know how they choose Hotel & restaurants? They select upon reviews,the hotels or restaurants which have maximum positive reviews they select them as simple as that.

So what actually we do?

We provide review service, amazed you think you can also do that? Off course you can,but do you know if you submit reviews from same IP,TA will ban you & you won’t be able to submit more reviews.

We use different IP for each review,so they stay permanent & they won’t be deleted.

Our Price
We charge $12 per review,reviews will be permanent as we’ll use different IPs for each time.

What we need to post a review.we’ll need following information for posting a review.

Title, Summary
Ratings (There is rating from 1 star to 5 star)
Customer name (We’ll make email address from your customer’s name & then we’ll submit)
Month they visited.

If you want see an example of our review we can send you also.

Also in a month from an IP we can post only a single review, if we post second from same IP TA won’t approve it.

So we use different IPs to post them,therefore reviews stay permanently.

Let me know your thoughts about this.

Looking forward to have more work from you.:)

Speak soon

Note how the fake review even uses a real customers name and the time when they stayed there. What is the probability of a customer who never leaves a review of seeing their name on a fake review? If your hotel is from a small city, adding one paid fake review per week over a year can stack up to a top ranking hotel.

When I travel I enjoy meeting people who are regular travellers that have no affiliation with the travel industry or blogging. I ask what websites they use for research and if they read blogs. Tripadvisor is always a popular choice, which is not surprising given their total domination of the Google SERPs.

I remind them that ratings sites that use user-generated content for reviews are open to abuse. I will now point them to emails like this if there is further doubt about this claim.

Breaking the Google addiction and giving DuckDuckGo a go

If you are doing travel related searches on Google you will be all too familiar with Google overloading the SERPs with Tripadvisor links. My personal record was 9/10.

I was doing a search for “ham tien beach” (in Vietnam) and in this case I got 6 out of 10 Tripadvisor links. I didn’t even search “hotel” yet Google deemed all these Tripadvisor links as relevant.

Here is a screenshot of the search.

Google search for

Such is my addiction to Google that I didn’t contemplate using another search engine. I just grumbled “stupid Tripadvisor” and left it at that (note: I have since checked Yahoo and Bing and their search results are equally filled with TA links).

In a case of serendipitous timing, I logged off and went for an podcast wander and the first podcast in the queue was What Does Google Know About Us? on the Tropical MBA podcast.

This episode features an interview with Gabriel Weinberg from DuckDuckGo; a search engine that doesn’t track you and which gets information from the quality rated sources rather than searching everything.

I got back from my podcast wander and gave DuckDuckGo a go. The same search term returned two out of ten Tripadvisor links. While that is one too many Tripadvisor links for my liking (and some might say two too many), it’s a vast improvement on the Google results.

Here is the DuckDuckGo screen shot for comparison (trimmed to the first 10 results).

DuckDuckGo search for

On the podcast Gabriel mentions that DuckDuckGo manually filters out content farms like Demand Media (which includes sites like ehow) that are able to dominate Google search results with what is, most of the time, not the best results. Rather than trying to tweak an algorithm to filter such sites DuckDuckGo just remove them. Yay DuckDuckGo!

I like that DuckDuckGo don’t track your search history or bias the results with what it thinks you might like. I also like the clean layout and minimum amount of ads, which harks back to what Google used to look like.

As a user of Gmail (and by forced default G+) and Google docs I am a heavy Google user. On my laptop I have a Google Chrome and Firefox browser open at all times. I’m logged into Gmail with Chrome and I use Firefox when I want to search without being logged into Google. I’ve now set DuckDuckGo as my default search engine on Firefox to give myself an alternative search to Google.

Welcome to Media Notes

Welcome to the Media Notes blog.

My name is James Clark and I usually blog at; a travel blog about long term travel and location independent living. I will be keeping a blog here to post on topics that fall outside the realm of a travel blog. Here I cover the business of blogging, social media, and travel industry news.