We bet, you have read a lot of reviews before buying something unfamiliar. It’s a very normal and welcome practice.
Just… Just they are spoiled. Spoiled to the extent that they have become not just unreliable but also can direct you in the completely wrong direction. Just look at these stories.
TripAdvisor’s favourite: the fake restaurant
The most famous debunker of a review system is the story of The Shed – the fake restaurant that in six months after listing on TripAdvisor became London’s top-rated restaurant.
A restaurant that doesn’t exist is top-ranked in one of the world’s biggest cities, on perhaps the internet’s most trusted reviews site. Despite the TripAdvisor’s “significant time and resources ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor reflects the real experiences of real travelers.”
In six months. Non-existent restaurant. In London. On TripAdvisor.
Fake reviews on Amazon marketplace
Amazon.com started to accept and publish reviews by buyers. It was a very convenient and useful feature in those days when they sold books only. Soon it became a very powerful tool for sellers to move money to their products. Then they started to game the system.
Now, Amazon’s fake reviews are traded on a massive scale. Yes, there are countless “reviewers” whose earnings are only from writing those fake reviews, even companies that specialize in writing and managing fake reviews on Amazon.com or other sales platforms.
Amazon is not alone. All review industry is doomed. Even that which has the word “Trust” in its name. Unsurprisingly, Google reviews are no exception.
WordPress Hosting affiliates surpassed The Shed
The Shed for a short time fooled one website.
Amazon.com fake reviewers destroyed the trust in one platform’s review system.
WordPress hosting affiliates moved even further. They destroyed the core infrastructure of the whole web – the search for WordPress hosting.
The pollution of the Google search results
Try to google “best WordPress hosting“. You think that below Google ads you see links to hosting reviews?
Of course, no! Actually, you are still browsing and consuming ads. Today, it’s very hard to find an actual review, not biased by advertising (read: affiliate) money.
In most “WordPress hosting review” cases, you will get not a recommendation for the best WordPress hosting but a recommendation of the one with the best affiliate program.
Or, in the “Top 10 WordPress hosting” cases, you will have not a list starting from the best hosting but a list starting from the author’s biggest affiliate commission. If you buy any hosting from that list – affiliate money will be paid to the author, because there will be only affiliated links to the hosting companies, sorted from the biggest to the smallest payout. Hosting companies that pay smaller commissions? They are out of the list, despite their real hosting performance.99% of hosting reviews are not reviews but advertisements paid for by affiliate commissions. Please, tweet this
Fraudulent WordPress hosting reviews
99.9% of hosting reviews are not reviews but advertisements paid for by affiliate commissions. Well written, illustrated and promoted, they corrupt and destroy the web by poisoning all review ecosystem to the extent that finding a real, unpaid and unbiased review is next to impossible.
It’s next to impossible to find something genuine because there are pages and pages of results of only affiliated “reviews” articles. Fake reviews. Fake comparisons. Fake praises.
The extremely rare real reviews are hidden under-optimized, heavily promoted, and massively affiliated posts and sites. Don’t expect to find them in the first ten pages of google search. Or in the first twenty or even fifty pages.
The poor efforts to fight back
Google tried to fight the corrupted affiliate system by introducing “affiliate” tag, but it doesn’t have any impact yet.
Amazon.com tries to catch and decontaminate some of the worst actors, if they are not himself. With very little success. (Are they interested in real success?)
But in the WordPress hosting reviews & affiliates world, there are no signs of even accepting the problem. It seems that everyone is fine with this deception.
Because recommending bad hosting can lead directly to large amounts of money for the recommender. The biggest names in the WordPress industry make a big money from this and are interested in the status quo.
Dishonesty is triggered by hosting companies
Just don’t blame only the affiliates for that. The poisoning of this system started with the hosting industry itself.
Many, too many WordPress hosting providers have a business model that is built not on a great product, fast servers, and security measures but on corrupt relationships with affiliates.
In addition to affiliate payments, many hosting companies offer very generous, non-public affiliate deals. For the potentially most successful affiliates, they privately offer double or even better conditions. Hosting companies fight for the attention of the best affiliates by bribing them unscrupulously.99% of hosting reviews are written not because reviewers really tested hosting in real life, but because they were paid by affiliate commissions. Please, tweet this
Money, money, money
For affiliate marketers, money is the most important goal. They prioritize making money over telling you the truth. They do not bother to test out which hosting is actually good. Not to talk of testing several of them for writing a “top 10 best WordPress hosting providers” list-style article. Even in an incredible case, if they do, they are simply not interested in announcing the results because telling the truth is not where the money is.
You may be shocked to realize how much money is behind these unscrupulous hosting recommendations. The top “best WordPress hosting” affiliates may earn thousands or dozen thousand dollars per month from its recommended hosts. Plus, if you are a really successful affiliate, hosting companies will reach you privately to offer even bigger commissions. They value successful reviewers who sell a lot.
Just look to some offers for affiliates from a few well-known shared hosting companies:
“Highest payouts in the industry!”
“Join our affiliate program and earn up to… £300 per sale!”
“Earn up to tens of thousands of dollars on just one referral!”
“Biggest Payouts! We smash other WordPress hosting companies who only offer small commissions!”
“But wait, we don’t stop there! You’ll also get a 10% monthly recurring commission for every referral, on top of your signup bonus.”
Why is it bad for the customers?
When you buy hosting, you pay not for the server, infrastructure, hardware, and support, but for the hosting affiliate, who referred you.
That’s, why shared hosting performance is so bad. Servers are oversold, real hosting prices – hidden, support converted to sales. Everything against a customer who expects fair hosting for the fair money.
Hosting companies just can’t afford two kinds of expenses: big affiliate commissions and solid technical infrastructure. They have to choose one. Which side they choose, you can understand from the pitches, like this real prompt from the very popular WordPress hosting company:
“More customers referred, higher commissions earned!”
This means the “more customers you deceive, the more money you earn”.
Do you want to be the next victim?WordPress hosting reviews: how social proof became social fraud. Please, tweet this
If you are still not convinced, read the 30 Best WordPress Themes 2020 Edition, the same applies to all hosting reviews too.
And, the future of reviews: Researchers taught AI to write totally believable fake reviews.
Gail Gardner says2022.10.20 at 22:36
Yes, I can confirm that there are far too many people getting paid to write fake reviews. Every day as the BizSugar Small Business Mastermind Community Manager I delete new users who want to sell reviews or fake followers.
It gets worse. They also sell verified accounts which would have to be fraudulent. Buyer beware goes triple online.
Internet users need to be able to recognize the “Top 3” type of affiliate posts. They are never the 3 best hosting companies (or anything else). Instead, they are the 3 hosting companies currently paying the highest commissions and/or recurring commissions.
If you’re using the internet, learn to recognize affiliate links and common redirects. And have someone explain how to spot fake reviews while you’re at it!