How to Respond to Google Reviews

Learn How to Respond to Negative, Positive, Neutral, and Fake Google Reviews

Over 60% of prospective customers look at Google reviews, especially when searching on their phones for local services “near me”. Which makes managing your online reputation on review sites a must.

But asking for Google reviews and managing a Google My Business page with many glowing 5-star reviews takes some work. And having too many neutral or negative Google reviews can affect your local search rankings and brand perception, driving customers to choose your competition.

Many businesses search for a way to delete Google reviews, but you can’t (more on that below).

So you’ll want to focus on your review response strategy. This is why I show you:

  • How to respond to Google reviews
  • How to respond to a bad Google review
  • How to respond to positive Google reviews
  • How to respond to neutral Google reviews
  • How to respond to fake Google reviews

Read on for more.

Why You Should Respond to Google Reviews and Value Customer Feedback

There are many compelling reasons for responding to Google reviews and managing your online reputation. We cover this in-depth on our Reviews & Feedback How-to Hub. But showing that you’re engaged and value your customers’ feedback are the biggest reasons why you should respond to Google reviews.

Showing engagement and that you care about customer feedback ultimately builds trust. It establishes social proof that you’re awesome and committed to providing excellent customer service.

Google has also stated that responding to Google reviews (good or bad) can help improve your local Google search rankings.

Why do search rankings this matter?

Google is the dominant search engine (especially for local “near me” searches), this is how people will find your business. When someone searches, you’ll want to be listed at least somewhere on the first page of search results with a great star rating.

Should you respond to every single review?

No doubt, you’re a busy person. So responding to every Google review may not be feasible.

Although some businesses prioritize responding to every review, others prefer to focus on those that have a specific complaint or request that can reasonably be addressed.

As a general rule of thumb, try to answer every 1 and 2-star review. You don’t need to respond to every single review, but responding to bad reviews is an especially great way to showcase:

  • How much you care
  • How responsive you are
  • How you deal with negative experiences
  • How committed you are to making things right
  • That you’re a real person representing your business

These are all human and conversational ways to build trust and a healthy brand reputation.

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How to Respond to Google Reviews Through Google My Business

If you haven’t already, you need to claim your Google My Business page. This is the first step to responding to reviews.

Claim your Google My Business page

To claim your Google My Business Page search for your business on Google and click the "Claim this Business" or "Own this Business" link. If neither of those options appears, then someone has already requested these permissions and claimed your business.

You can also visit Google My Business, and enter your business name and address. From there, choose your business from the list and hit "Claim this Business" under the Business Profile. If you hit "Continue", you can fill out a form to request ownership from the account that currently manages the profile.

How to respond to Google reviews from a desktop computer

  1. Visit business.google.com (If you’re signed in you’ll see your business page automatically).
  2. From the navigation bar select a business (if you manage multiple) or click “Reviews”.
  3. Next, you'll see a list of reviews associated with your business page.
  4. From here you can manage “All”, “Replied” and “Haven’t replied” reviews.
  5. To respond to a review, click "Reply".
  6. A text box will open that allows you to respond to the review.

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How to respond to Google reviews from a mobile device

  1. Download the Google My Business app from the GooglePlay or Apple App Store.
  2. Open the app.
  3. Tap on Customers.
  4. Tap on a customer.
  5. "Respond Now" to reply to a review.

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How to Respond to Negative/Bad Reviews on Google

Getting bad Google reviews and negative feedback from customers is never fun. Especially when you know how hard you try every day to provide the best possible customer service and support.

The impulse is to lash out with a snarky or condemning response but…

Here’s how to respond to negative reviews on Google:

  1. Think about the feedback.
  2. Discuss causes with other employees before responding.
  3. Identify who you are and your role in the business.
  4. Ask questions to clarify the customer’s experience and begin empathizing with them.
  5. Keep your initial message brief, but professional and courteous.
  6. Move the conversation off of your Google My Business page.
  7. Attempt to contact the customer via phone (best for conveying a proper tone) or email.
  8. Own up to legitimate mistakes when appropriate.
  9. Offer solutions, rebates, discounts, and incentives if applicable.
  10. Finish conversations with a polite closing.

Note: Many angry customers see responses from business owners but never interact again. If you do get a follow-up response and you are able to resolve the issue, you can request that the customer edit their review on Google.

Template for responding to negative reviews

Hello [NAME],

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 during each and every visit, 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.

Sincerely,
[name]

How to Respond to Positive Reviews on Google

Responding to negative reviews is always important. But managing your online reputation also includes responding to positive reviews on Google.

Positive reviews are obvious social proof for potential customers. They’re validation from real customers that your goods or services are worth looking into.

You don't have to respond to every positive review. But taking a few minutes out of your day or month to reply can go a long way.

Responding to these reviews adds a personalized, human touch to your brand perception. It also shows other Google searchers that you actively read responses and that you respond promptly. Both are positive indicators in Google’s eyes as well.

To respond to positive reviews on Google:

  1. Address the reviewer by name when available.
  2. Thank the reviewer for their positive response.
  3. Call out, highlight or quote specific aspects of their review that showcase your business.
  4. Offer a further incentive, discount, or referral offer (if applicable).
  5. End your message warmly with a salutation and your name.

Template for a positive Google review response

Hello [NAME],

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide [company] with a positive review. I am so glad that you found our support staff helpful when you were in our store last week and that you were happy with your purchase! We pride ourselves on doing our best to keep our customers satisfied every day, and it's nice to hear that all of our hard work is paying off.

If you'd like a coupon for 15% off your next purchase, please contact me at [email address], and I will get that to you right away.

Sincerely,
[name]

How to Respond to Neutral Reviews on Google

Just like with positive reviews, you’ll also want to pay attention to neutral Google reviews. It may seem unnecessary to respond to neutral reviews, but there are benefits to doing so.

A thoughtful response can change a customer's perspective on your company from "meh" to "wow". This is especially true if you can address the reason why the reviewer only gave three stars instead of five.

To respond to a neutral review on Google:

  1. Provide a warm greeting and introduce yourself
  2. Thank the reviewer for their feedback
  3. Ask questions to clarify the customer’s experience and begin empathizing with them.
  4. Acknowledge the less than satisfactory or underwhelming aspects of their review.
  5. Invite the reviewer to contact you to further discuss their experience, and offer an incentive if applicable.
  6. Treat neutral reviews similar to negative ones by offering a way to interact one-on-one
  7. Seek to change their opinion of your business with a discussion or incentives.

Template for a neutral review response

Dear [NAME],

My name is [name], and I am the [title] at [company].

I would like to personally thank you for leaving a thoughtful review, and I can understand why you feel your experience fell slightly short of your expectations. If you would like to further discuss your visit to [company], please email me at [email address], so I can follow up and offer you a coupon for your next visit.

Warmly,
[name]

How to Respond to Fake Reviews on Google

Businesses large and small suffer from fake reviews on Google. Fake reviews on Google come from people who have never visited their store, purchased their products, or used their services.

People leave fake reviews for a number of reasons, sometimes accidentally, other times more maliciously. Fortunately, Google does give you the ability to report fake reviews.

To report a fake or malicious review on Google:

  1. Visit the review in question
  2. Hit the three dots to the right of the reviewer's name.
  3. Click on the button that pops up that says "report review".
  4. Choose an option on the next screen that says "What's wrong with this review".
  5. If this doesn't work, you can also respond to the customer's review,
  6. Stating that you don't have records of them visiting your business followed by kindly asking them to delete it.

Template for responding to fake reviews

Dear [NAME],

We take reviews left on our page seriously; however, we don’t have any records of or ways to verify that this issue occurred in the way you described. If you have visited our store and would like to provide us with more information, please email me at [email address] to discuss this further.

Thank you,
[name]

Need help managing your online reputation?

A business text messaging app 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.

Feel free to start a free MessageDesk trial or schedule a demo with a messaging expert.

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