How to Remove Fake Negative Reviews on Google
By Sandy | Feb 19, 2020 (5 min read)
You likely trust most of the business reviews you read online. If a business has a decent amount of four or five-star reviews, you are more likely to give them a try.
But, just a couple of one or two-star reviews can cause you to doubt.
Reputation management is the art of influencing and controlling a person’s or a business’s reputation. And in 2020, it’s more important than ever before.
Let’s take a look at some statistics for online reviews:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).
- According to Moz, review signals make up 15% of Google’s local pack ranking factors.
- Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business.
- 57% of consumers only use companies with four or more review stars.
This tendency to trust reviews is just human nature. And when it comes to online business reviews, a few negative posts can be hugely damaging to a company.
What Are Fake Negative Reviews?
Sometimes your company will receive a seemingly fake negative review. These are usually posted as spam, or sometimes be an unethical competitor.
Typically, fake reviews will be one-star and or some unsubstantiated complaints in the comments.
Unfortunately, even though you know the review is fake, your potential customers have no idea. Recent research has shown that 74% of consumers have read a fake review in the past year.
Luckily, if a review happens to be fake, there’s a course of action you can take to remove it.
How to Tell if a Google Review is Fake
The first order of business when it comes to addressing fake Google reviews is to find out whether or not the review is fake.
If the review comes from a real and unhappy customer, there’s no way to get the review removed, and it’s best to respond quickly.
Fake reviews are usually fairly easy to see. Here are a few things to look for when it comes to spotting false reviews.
- Look at the reviewer’s name and check to see if they are located anywhere in your CRM / point of sale software. If you can’t find any record, the review is probably fake.
- Click on the reviewer’s profile and check if they have left similar reviews with other businesses.
- Sometimes reviewers might mistake your business for another and leave a review for the company. If the review mentions a product or service you don’t offer, the reviewer probably mistook your brand for another.
- If you encounter multiple negative reviews in a short amount of time, it could be a spammer or a competitor targeting your business.
How to Report & Remove Fake Google Reviews
The initial step of reporting a review to Google is pretty straight forward and takes a few simple steps. The real difficulty lies in whether or not Google will respond to your request in a timely matter.
- Go to the review you determined to be fake and locate the three vertical dots to the right.
- Clicking on the dots will bring up an option to flag as inappropriate. If you are completely sure the review is fake, go ahead and flag it. Google may penalize companies that report reviews that turn out to be legitimate.
- You will then be migrated to a policy violation page where you’ll be asked to input your email and select which violation you believe the review is guilty of.
Google Reviews Guidelines & Violations
- Spam & fake content
- Restricted content
- Illegal content
- Sexually explicit content
- Offensive content
- Dangerous & derogatory content
- Conflict of interest
Submit a Request Through Google My Business
- Visit your Google My Business Profile
- Click the support bottom at the bottom of the page
- You’ll see a help box pop up with the options, “need more help,” “customer reviews and photos,” “manage customer reviews,” and finally “email support.”
If you have enough evidence to support your case against the review, send an email to customer support outlining your predicament. We suggest including a screenshot of the negative review and any other info Google might find potentially helpful.
What Happens If Google Denies Your Request?
Even if you’re sure the review must be fake, Google might not remove it. More specifically, Google only removes a review if they deem it to be in direct violation of their policies. On the other hand, they might determine you did not provide enough evidence. If that’s the case, you may be able to follow up with additional information.
If Google ultimately decides not to remove the review, it’s a good idea to at least reply to the fake review and aims to address the issue mentioned. This response displays to future customers that your business is proactive towards responding to criticism in a civilized manner.
“Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. We take all feedback seriously, but we can’t seem to find any record of a customer matching your name and information in our system. We would love to discuss the concern further and help out any way we can. If you have had a poor experience with our business, please contact us at (insert company email). We’ll do everything we can to help resolve the issue for you.”
Focus on Growing Your Positive Reviews
Even with the best companies, a few bad reviews are inevitable. Whether that review is legitimate or fake, it’s always best to drown them out with a flood of positive feedback. Consider outreach and marketing campaigns that encourage users to leave reviews. This tactic will improve your aggregate star rating and send the negative reviews farther down the page.
Odds are you won’t encounter too many spammy Google reviews about your business. The best thing you can do to ensure you receive favorable recommendations is to provide excellent service. Not only does that mean your offering does what it says it will, but if there are any concerns or complaints, you address them immediately.