Increasing your number of Google reviews is a great way to boost your Local SEO performance and reach more customers. However, with more reviews comes more chance of encountering a bad review — and the resulting desire to remove a Google review.
The good news is that bad reviews aren’t the end of the world. According to Google, your business is more trustworthy with a mix of positive reviews and negative reviews. However, you may still encounter a review that you want to remove. In this post, we explain how to remove a Google review. Plus, learn how to respond to fake, fraudulent, negative, or unflattering reviews.
Always Respond to Reviews, Even Fake Ones
One of the best practices for review management is to always respond. You should reply to reviews regardless of if they are positive, negative, or even fake. When you respond, you are not only addressing the reviewer but also prospects who are vetting your business by reading reviews.
Quick responses to your online reviews show your prospects that you’re listening to your customers and care about their experiences. Additionally, Google says that responding to reviews improves your search ranking. We recommend planning a templated response for every type of review you might receive.
Steps to Respond to Google Reviews
You can manage and respond to your reviews in your Google Business Profile
- Sign in to your Google Business Profile (after you claim your business listing) and select the location with the review you’d like to respond to.
- In the menu, select “Reviews” and click “Respond” next to the review you would like to answer.
- Type your reply and click “Submit.”
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Before you respond to a review, learn everything you can about the situation. Get the full picture before you reply to a complaint — Are they your customer? What did they purchase? What documented interactions did they have with your team?
Once you have all the details, it’s time to respond. Your response is NOT the time to provide a lengthy defense to a bad experience. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate that your business can respond appropriately to negative feedback and ensure it never happens again.
Keep in mind the following tips when you respond to negative reviews:
- Respond kindly and quickly. Remember that your response is visible for everyone to see, not just the reviewer. Never blame the customer or attempt to argue with them.
- Apologize and thank them. Feedback helps your business improve. Apologize to the customer for an unsatisfactory experience and thank them for the honest feedback.
- Be transparent about mistakes. Don’t make excuses or get defensive. Simply own up to the complaint, even if it’s not your fault. If there is a legitimate reason behind the negative customer experience, be honest about that and assure the customer it won’t happen again.
- Offer solutions. Ask questions if you need more details to make the situation right. Provide an incentive if necessary. For example, you may offer a refund and provide details for them to claim it.
- Work towards a one-to-one conversation. You don’t want to go back and forth with an unhappy customer on a review site. Encourage the customer to contact your customer service team so that you can resolve the situation offline.
- Sign your name. It helps to remind the customer that they are talking to a human who empathizes with them. We recommend signing your name to humanize your response.
Template Response for Negative Reviews
Your response to negative reviews should be brief and to the point. Your priority is to handle the review as quickly and politely as possible. You can use the following format to help:
“Hi [First Name], we’re sorry you had a bad experience with [product or service details here]. We appreciate your feedback and we’d like to make it right. Please reach out to [contact info] with [relevant details] and we’ll follow up with you ASAP. -[Your Name]”
This short response personally addresses the customer and comes directly from an employee. You acknowledge the complaint without getting defensive. Additionally, you direct the discussion offline to be resolved.
Make it Right & Move on
Unfortunately, there will be situations where your product or service is at fault for a bad review. In these cases, negative reviews can benefit your business because you have the opportunity to resolve the situation and prevent it from happening again.
If you feel that the customer is satisfied with your response to their complaint, you should ask them to revise their review. Customers are often willing to update reviews or add new ones to reflect how you handled the situation.
A single negative review will be buried soon enough if you regularly ask your customers for reviews. A consistent flow of reviews helps your business appear more trustworthy. In general, your prospects will put more emphasis on your most recent reviews.
How to Respond to Fake Reviews
You may encounter a review written by someone who was clearly not your customer. This could be because they accidentally wrote the review for the wrong business, or someone intentionally wrote a fraudulent review in an attempt to harm your business.
If you are certain that a review is untrue, first take the time to respond. Be sure to keep your cool in your reply – it’s unnecessary to bring more attention to the review than it deserves. Clarify that you have no record of doing business with the reviewer. If it’s obvious the review is a mistake, kindly invite them to remove the review.
After you reply, flag or report the review as fraudulent. It may take a few days to remove a Google review. If you’ve already responded, it won’t look like you’re ignoring a difficult situation.
How to Spot a Fake Google Review
Investigate any suspicious complaints and inform your plan of action. Some signs of a fake review include:
- You can’t find the buyer in your sales records
- Details of the complaint do not match their purchase or transaction date
- There are no documented customer service calls related to the complaint
- There is a lack of detail in the complaint
- The complaint is one of several posted in a short timeframe
- There’s a conflict of interest (e.g., the reviewer is a competitor or a former employee)
- The reviewer recommended a competitor in the review
Template Response for Fake Reviews
Fake reviews may not be as obvious to your potential customers as they are to you. Keep your response short and sweet without blaming the reviewer. You can use the following format to help:
“Hi [First Name], we’re sorry you had a bad experience with [product or service details here]. Unfortunately, we don’t have any record of you doing business with us. Please reach out to [contact info] with [relevant details] so that we can make it right. -[Your Name]”
This short response is personal and polite. It acknowledges the complaint but clarifies to the public that the legitimacy is in question. After you respond, you can remove a Google review by reporting it.
Remove a Google Review
To remove a Google review, you need to bring it to Google’s attention. To flag a review, follow these instructions from Google:
- Log in to your Google Business Profile.
- Select the location (if you have multiple) and click “Reviews.”
- Find the review you want to flag and click the three dots in the upper-right corner. Then, click “Flag as inappropriate.”
It may take several days for someone to review your request and make a decision regarding the flagged review. You may want to follow up with Google Small Business Support and get help via phone or email.
If you contact Support, be prepared to explain why the review should be removed. It’s helpful to include in your email a screenshot of the review and any details supporting why it’s false or in violation of their policy.
If the review in question violates laws like slander or copyright infringement, you can also submit a legal removal request using the Content Removal Tool. You may want to consult a legal professional before taking this approach.
When Google Removes Reviews
There are several types of reviews that we know for certain Google will remove automatically or by request. Anything that violates Google’s review policy will be removed. This includes:
- Spam and fake content that is posted to manipulate ratings. For example, posting the same content multiple times or posting content for the same place from multiple accounts would be considered manipulation.
- Off-topic content that doesn’t reflect genuine experience. This includes general political, social commentary, or personal rants that aren’t relevant to the business. For example, an outpouring of bad reviews for a single business in response to a news article would likely be removed.
- Restricted content that is subject to local legal regulations. For example, content promoting alcohol, gambling, guns, etc.
- Illegal content or content depicting illegal activities. For example, copyrighted material, violence, illegal products, or illegal activities.
- Terrorist content.
- Sexually explicit content. This includes content that sexually exploits children.
- Offensive content. Google defines this as obscene, profane, or offensive language or gestures.
- Dangerous and derogatory content. For example, content that threatens harm, harasses or intimidates, incites hatred or promotes discrimination.
- Impersonation. This applies to deceptive content and false representations. For example, reviews written by people who are not your customer.
- Conflict of interest. For example, reviews of your own business, a current or former employer, or a competitor’s business are subject to removal.
Monitor Your Reviews
Your timely response to fraudulent or negative reviews impacts your online reputation. You need to stay up-to-date when new reviews are posted so that you can make the best impression on future customers. Chat with us if you are interested in reputation management tools that help you do just that.