Reviews are essential to building and managing your online reputation. They’re social proof that shows potential customers how awesome your business or organization is.
And when it comes to review sites and online reviews Google is king.
In fact, over 60% of prospective customers look at Google reviews, especially when searching for local services “near me”.
But collecting feedback and asking the right customers for Google reviews takes serious effort.
And it can get even more frustrating when you start finding negative or bad Google reviews.
Now, you don’t need a perfect 5-star rating on Google. A few negative reviews are actually a good thing. They give you an opportunity to highlight how empathetic and responsive your business is.
But what can you do when someone posts an obviously fake or truly malicious Google review?
These are important questions I hear business owners asking all the time.
So in this article, I cover:
Read on for more.
You can’t directly delete Google reviews from your Google My Business page. But you can report a review and ask Google to remove it. If it’s inappropriate or violates Google's contributed content policies Google will often flag the review automatically. Reviewers can also edit or delete their own Google reviews, so try asking the person who left the review to remove it.
Bottom line: Google only allows its own staff or the person who left the review to remove or delete a review.
The best way to “remove” Google reviews is to respond politely and bury the bad with plenty of positive reviews. This is where MessageDesk can help you automatically get more Google reviews and respond to customer feedback.
I’ve covered who can delete a Google review. But what are Google’s actual terms of service and policy around reviews?
Google’s review policy:
Google doesn’t verify a reviewer's identity. They do this for privacy purposes and to ensure there’s no retaliation from businesses for poor reviews.
Google does provide Verified Customer Reviews, which come with a little icon that guarantees that an actual customer left the review.
But these reviews are only available to customers who purchase a product or service online.
Verified Customer Reviews obviously carry more weight but in most cases, Google doesn’t verify reviewers' identities.
Google also does not guarantee that all the reviews posted on your business page are authentic and posted by real customers.
This means that anyone with a Google account can post a review on your Google My Business page.
Google does use automated spam detection to remove reviews that look like spam.
These reviews aren't always negative. Sometimes people or bots leave positive reviews on your page that are fake too. Some businesses even see off-topic reviews that read more like political rants or journal entries instead of helpful reviews.
But be advised, some legitimate reviews sometimes automatically get removed.
Google’s user-contributed content guidelines (outlined below) describe specific cases in which Google will remove a review.
In short, Google doesn’t allow reviews that are:
If you have reviews on your page that check any of these boxes, it’s likely Google will remove them.
After you flag a review, a Google representative may reach out to ask for evidence that proves the review is fake.
This only occurs when it’s not obvious that a review is spam or fake.
Regardless, you’ll want evidence that supports why the review should be removed.
Examples of evidence include:
Google reviews are a type of user-contributed content, so they’re covered under Google’s Prohibited and Restricted Content Guidelines.
These guidelines outline ten policy violations for contributed content. If a Google review violates any of the policies, then Google will often automatically flag or remove the review for you.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Google’s prohibited and restricted content guidelines:
This is deceptive content used to manipulate ratings. Spam and fake content include posting multiple times, including from different accounts.
Off-topic content that’s general in nature including political commentary or personal rants is forbidden.
Content that promotes actions purchases that aren’t legal. This includes promoting alcohol, gambling, guns, pharmaceuticals, adult services, and more.
Content that’s illegal or depicts illegal activity is forbidden. This includes copyrighted content, endangered animal products, graphic violence, human trafficking, etc.
Any content promoting terroristic behavior or terrorist organizations is forbidden.
Content that is sexually explicit or sexually exploits children is forbidden.
Google will remove content that contains obscene, profane, or offensive language or gestures.
Google doesn’t permit businesses or consumers to post dangerous or derogatory content, including content that:
Content that impersonates others or falsely represents is forbidden.
This is content that’s dishonest or biased includes posting reviews of your own business. This includes having a current or former employee do it for you and trying to manipulate a competitors’ ratings.
Here are four ways to remove a Google review or reduce the impact of bad reviews on your business page.
Have a series of bad, but real reviews from real customers? You can't get those removed by Google. But you can get more Google reviews to effectively bury the negative ones.
For most businesses, the problem with collecting more reviews is time and energy. It’s a laborious, manual process.
But this is where MessageDesk makes it easy to automatically start conversations with customers and collect feedback via SMS text messages.
Once you know you have a happy customer, MessageDesk automatically texts them a link to your Google My Business review page.
Text messages make it fast and easy for customers to leave reviews, which means more reviews. You can even set up text message triggers that send review links to customers once they’ve completed a purchase.
Here’s an example of an automated feedback and review collection sequence triggered after a purchase using MessageDesk:
Once a customer responds with 1-10 MessageDesk can automatically reply based on how they rated your business.
If they rate you highly, MessageDesk automatically asks them to make their experience public and leave you a Google review.
If a customer rates you poorly, MessageDesk will instead ask them to reply and elaborate on their experience. This informs you on how to improve next time and prevents the customer from leaving a negative review.
Over time, you’ll see how customers rate their experience by comparing how many people have replied with each value.
Your impulse may be to delete negative reviews. But consider responding to your Google reviews and asking reviewers to edit or remove them for you.
If the review is blatantly fake, you can start by responding that no one recalls the interactions outlined in the review. But that your business takes customer complaints seriously.
Regardless, it's best to follow up with your contact information and encourage them to reach out and discuss the matter further. This shows other prospective customers that you care about customer service and customer experiences.
Keep in mind, many angry customers see responses from business owners but never interact again. If you do get a follow-up response you can request that the customer edit their review in Google Maps.
Here’s how customers can edit or delete a Google review:
My name is [name] and I am the [title] at [company]. I'm sorry to hear that you were disappointed in our service. We strive to exceed the expectations of our customers, and it looks like we missed the mark here.
Please contact me at [phone number] or [email address] to further discuss your experience and to allow me to personally address your concerns at your earlier convenience.
One of the simplest things you can do is flag the review and hope Google deletes it for policy violations.
Here’s how to flag a Google review:
Note: Google often addresses flags in as little as 24-48 hours. But it can take a few days for them to get to your case. If you haven't heard back in a week, try contacting Google’s small business support.
Your final way to delete a Google review is to contact Google small business support. Start by filling out their online form. Next, you’ll get directed to contact options. This includes email, online chat, or speaking with a representative on the phone.
Here’s how to contact Google small business support
Note: If you do contact Google via email or chat, it’s helpful to have a screenshot of the review ready to go.
Finally, you can also try tweeting the Google My Business team (@GoogleMyBiz) from your company Twitter account. Someone may reply to you and you can take things from there.
You could also search for and seek advice about the removal of reviews in the Google community support forum.
Google reviews are an important way for you to establish an online reputation and grow your customer base.
A business text messaging service like MessageDesk has features like text message scheduling, text tags, and SMS templates. These features work together to automate your review collection process.
Templates help you send saved messages with a link to your Google listing. And scheduling allows you to automate texts to customers.
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