Social media and SEO created a mutant in travel – Introducing Fake Review Optimization

After a rough year of defending itself from its detractors, TripAdvisor now describes itself as the more modest “reviews and advice on hotels, resorts, flights, vacation rentals, vacation packages, travel guides, and lots more” or “over 50 million reviews & opinions by travelers.”
To be clear, TripAdvisor is not evil, and Kaufer remains one of the smartest and most insightful leaders of the travel industry.
If TripAdvisor’s information was largely inaccurate or untrustworthy, the site would lose its user base and competitors would rise up to replace it. That’s not happening – yet.
The problem is that the curation process for 50 million reviews sourced from 20 million members is problematic. This challenge is compounded by the global nature of the organization, now covering 1+ million businesses in 93,000 destinations.
It seems some of the 715,000 restaurants, 520,000 hotels and 155,000 attractions occasionally dispute the accuracy of some reviews.
Unlike Google, TripAdvisor does not merely surface and prioritize the most relevant links, a process that allows Google to retain full control over the signals and weighting factors driving its algorithm.
Instead, TripAdvisor publishes content created by a largely faceless community of individuals. But where anonymous reviews should surface the most frank and honest opinions, similar anonymity allows the ethically bereft a free hand in trying to manipulate rankings.