Have you come across a review on your Google My Business profile that doesn’t seem legitimate for your business, is wildly inappropriate, or just totally unrelated to what you do? I’m not just talking about negative reviews – though I’m sure most negative reviews don’t spark joy – bad reviews are honest customer experiences and shouldn’t be removed just because we don’t like them. However, in the case where a review is malicious or not related to your business, you may be able to successfully remove them since a review that isn’t relevant doesn’t represent your business appropriately. I’ll show you how in this post.
How to Identify Google Reviews that Can Be Removed
First and foremost, you should only report reviews that violate Google’s policies. Don’t report a review just because it’s negative or you don’t agree with it. Reporting too many reviews that don’t violate Google’s policies can limit Google from taking anything you report seriously. You know what they say about the boy that cried wolf? Also, if an account only has positive reviews, it can look fake. It's good to show you're real. Here’s a summary of the types content that can be reported:
- Spam or fake reviews: This includes duplicate posts from multiple accounts.
- Irrelevant content: Content not related to your business or that particular location. This may also include political rants or general comments that don’t relate to the experience at that location.
- Illegal or restricted content: Sharing images or content that is illegal, restricted to display due to regulations such as copyrights or abusive content. This includes personal information that is restricted, and sexual or offensive content or images.
- Conflict of interest: Posts from disgruntled employees or competitors that are intended to manipulate ratings. Sorry, not all competitors play nicely.
How to Request Google Delete a Negative Review
Once you identify a review that violates Google’s policies, the process to flag a review for removal is pretty simple. You can either flag a review in Google Maps or in your own Google My Business account. If you have a Google My Business account, this method is recommended as it will show credibility as the owner reporting the issue to Google instead of just any user. You will also be able to see when changes are made to your listings. (Note: If you haven’t already verified your listing(s), I recommend you claim all your locations’ listings. This will allow you to manage and respond to reviews.) You can also report reviews on Google Maps and the process is very similar.
Reporting a review in Google My Business
- Open your Google My Business profile where you manage your locations
- Select the particular location where you want to remove a review
- Go to the “Review” tab and find the review you want to flag for removal
- Click on the three dots ⠇next to the review, then click “Flag as inappropriate”
Reporting a review in Google Maps
- Go to the location in Google Maps
- Next to where you see your star rating, there is the number of reviews you have for that listing - e.g. “105 reviews”. Click on the number of reviews and scroll till you find the review you want to report. Click on the three dots ⠇next to the review, then click “Flag as inappropriate.” It may say “Report review” if you are viewing this from your Google Knowledge Graph
- Complete the form and click submit
Keep in mind, it may take a few days for Google to review and remove a review, photo or video that violates their policies so be patient.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
Now that you know how which reviews you can report and how to report them, you may be wondering how you can reduce or respond to negative reviews on your Google listings. To help keep negative reviews to a minimum, try your best to:
- Take feedback from customers seriously and address negative experiences by providing great service. Great service is the best way to avoid negative reviews.
- Make it easy for customers to contact you if they have issues to avoid publicly posted negative reviews. This can include email follow-ups with links to contact you directly with feedback or asking for in-person feedback. Most of the time, people just want to be heard.
- Respond professionally to negative reviews on Google My Business from the business account acknowledging the user and offering to assist in a non-public way. Don’t get into arguments or try to defend the negative review publicly. It’s best not to accept fault directly but respond with something like, “I’m sorry you had that experience. If you would like to share more details, please contact us at....” Include the first name of the person responding to make it more personal.
- Add details in your profile description on how to reach your business for questions or concerns privately—either on your website, email or via phone. If someone has another way to get help or share negative feedback, they may not post it publicly.
- It also helps to combat negative reviews when more positive reviews are posted so encouraging reviews when people have good experiences with the school is also helpful.
How to Increase Positive Reviews
In addition to reducing negative reviews, you’ll also want to increase positive reviews. This will help your overall star rating increase and can move the bad reviews further down in your profile. Some ways to encourage more positive reviews are:
- If your site has a chat feature or contact form, use those to receive feedback. If you don’t already have these or your contact form is geared only towards prospects, editing the current form or adding a general contact or feedback form to the site will provide a way for customers to provide feedback—negative or positive. Adding copy to the site asking for reviews can also help gain positive reviews.
- Be sure to respond to positive reviews as well, thanking the user for their feedback.
- Sending emails to current customers asking for ratings and feedback can help gather valuable information to help make improvements. For ratings 4 or above, encourage them to write a review on Google My Business and provide a direct link to the appropriate location.
- Encourage your colleagues/staff to request reviews from students or other visitors who had pleasant experiences.
- Share positive reviews and quotes on the website, on social media or on the Google My Business profile description. If using names or photos of the person, it’s best to get permission before sharing.
The best Google My Business profiles have a human element to them. If users see it’s not just a faceless company they are reviewing but actual people that are responding to reviews and actually listening to feedback, they are more likely to provide more positive reviews or at least take negative feedback off a public forum.
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