Negative reviews are never fun to deal with, but fake reviews can be even worse. However, by handling reviews the right way, you can protect the reputation of your business.
Prioritizing reputation management should be an important part of your process whether or not you receive the occasional fake review.
Most businesses have to deal with a fake review at some point. Even GoBeyond got a fake review on the Better Business Bureau website. The person leaving the review was very disappointed that we had not sent her the supplements and diet shakes she ordered.
For those just tuning in, GoBeyond doesn’t sell supplements. Or shakes. Or products of any kind.
When we found the review and the woman who left it, we had a lovely conversation and sent her our website, showed her our faces, and demonstrated that we were not the culprits. She agreed to amend the review.
But had this bad (although fake) review been on Google, it would have been easier for her to recognize that we were not the offending company.
So what happens if you do get a negative, fake review on Google? Are you stuck with it? Not necessarily. Here’s how to deal with fake negative reviews on Google.
Flag the Fake Review for Google to Remove
Google will not just remove a comment because you say you want it removed. That said, if a comment violates Google’s policy, and you flag that comment, Google will step in and remove the flagged comment. Here’s a short list of violations that can be grounds for removal:
- Spam and fake content. Content should reflect genuine experiences and should not be placed in an attempt to manipulate ratings.
- Off-topic. Content should be related to the specific location being reviewed.
- Restricted content. No calls-to-action for materials restricted by law such as alcohol, tobacco, guns, etc.
- Conflict of interest. Business owners, employees, and employees of competing businesses cannot review your company.
If you have a bad review that fits in the criteria above, here are the steps you can take to flag that comment:
- Find your business listing on Google Maps. If you have not claimed and optimized it, do it now! Not sure how? Book a time to meet with us to find out how.
- Find the review you’d like to dispute.
- Do not respond to the comment. Not yet. If the review is mean or rude, of course you want to politely and professionally respond to that. However, if it’s simply untruthful, don’t respond. It’s hard to make a case for Google to remove it if you’ve engaged with the comment.
- Click the three vertical buttons on the right side, then flag as inappropriate.
Remember, reviews posted on Google My Business are meant to represent the genuine experiences of customers. If Google believes a review doesn’t represent a real experience, it will be removed.
What Happens If the Review Isn’t Removed?
If the review doesn’t get taken down, there are a couple of other steps you can take.
- Contact Google by phone to ask about the status of the flagged review.
- If that’s not enough, you can fill out a legal removal request if the review can be considered libel.
There’s never a guarantee that Google will remove a fake review. Being proactive, building a process, and responding to negative feedback is usually the best way of dealing with reviews whether they are good, bad, or ugly.
If you think it’s time to automate some of that process, we can help you at GoBeyond SEO. Find out how by booking a call with us here!