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How to Report & Remove Fake Google Reviews

How to Report & Remove Fake Google Reviews

How to remove a Google review?

Online reviews and ratings make a huge difference to your conversion rate because consumers trust social proof more than just about anything else.

92% of customers read online reviews.

It can be very frustrating to get a fake negative review, especially if it is your first and you are not sure how to approach the situation. That is why it is important to know what steps to take to report and remove a Google review while keeping your online image in good shape.

The key is not to be impulsive about it and act methodically and rationally to resolve the situation.

Remember that fake reviews have to be in violation of Google’s policies so they can be eligible for removal. It is recommended you read those policies. We have compiled a brief overview of them here:

What reviews can or cannot contain:

  • No advertising.
  • No offensive language or personal attacks. They have to be obscenity and profanity-free.
  • No illegal content.
  • No copyrighted content.
  • No spam content.
  • No sexual material. Google will take legal action.
  • No contact information.
  • They have to be on topic.
  • No conflict of interests. McDonald’s employee cannot leave a review for Burger King.
  • No confidential information, like passwords or credit card numbers.

Fake or spammy reviews can damage your reputation that is why you should act and take the steps to take them down. But before you do that it is wise to respond to them so you minimize the impact they might have on your brand.

Step 1: Respond to the Review

While it is not guaranteed you will be able to remove the review because that is up to Google’s support team’s discretion, you can respond to it and soften the blow. Assume a professional and friendly tone and address the review reassuring your customers that you take issues seriously and are always there to resolve them.

Avoid writing your response in the heat of the moment when you first notice the review. Take a structured approach to writing it and even do one or two edits to make sure your response has a maximum effect. Show your draft to your team members and ask for feedback. Your response should be something like this:

Hi Sheril, we are sorry for your trouble. We would like to make it up to you but we cannot seem to find an account or purchase associated with your name. Please call us at 212 212 2121 or email us at [email protected] and ask for Amber. We are always here to resolve issues.

Keep it brief and to the point and do not engage in an argument or be defensive, it never looks good in responses. Remember you are writing something that a good portion of your potential customers will see. So keep your brand image in mind.

Now let’s take a look at how to remove a Google review.

remove a google review

Step 2: Flag the Review

Once you have responded, it is time to take steps to remove the review. The first step you should take is to flag it. Hover over the review and a Flag icon will appear, then click on it. From here you will be taken to Google’s Report a policy violation page. You have to put your email that is associated with your Google My Business account and point the violation type. You might hear from Google if additional information is needed but other than that you are done.

Also, if more than one person flags the review it is more likely for Google to consider removing it so consider asking your team to flag it as well.

Google will review your ticket and can either leave the review if it deems it is legit, remove it if it violates its policies, or put it on hold. When a review is on hold it is only visible to the person who wrote it. They have a chance to edit it and then Google determines if the edits are sufficient and can let it go back online.

However, often fake reviewers will not feel like dealing with Google and not change the review leaving it invisible to everyone. Which in effect removes it.

Ideally, this will resolve your issue and your review will be removed so at this stage you can wait for a couple of days for a response from Google. But if the review is especially damaging and it contains obscene and abusive language you can push forward right away and contact Google Small Business Support.

remove a google review

Step 3: Contact Google Small Business Support

Contacting Google directly can be more effective and faster than simply flagging a review. If flagging the review is not resulting in removal or if you want a quicker resolution this step can speed things up.

  • Go to your Google My Business account page.
  • Go to Reviews.
  • Select Support from the Home menu.
  • Select how you would like to be contacted – email or phone.
  • Fill in the info and add a screenshot of the review.

Google should be in touch within 48 hours.

Step 4: Tweet at Google

Another avenue of communication with the Small Business Support team is to tweet at them. There is no guarantee that they will respond but they might. And when someone gets in touch, you can further explain the issue.

Be prepared to give them all details necessary and state clearly why the review is violating Google’s policy. Why the review is false and why it should be removed. If you have any screenshots or other supporting evidence that back your claim, have them handy.

You can conduct a research on the channels of other companies in your niche and see if there are similar reviews by the same user. Search for user’s name and try to get any reference to where they are coming from. You might get lucky and find it is an employee of a rival business and use that to build your case. Or might find other spammy reviews linked to the name. Take screenshots and send them to the person that contacts you.

Once Google makes a decision on whether to remove or leave the review, you will receive a notice via email or get a call from the person that has originally contained you.

remove a google review

Step 5: Ask for Help in Forums

Get help from the Google community by visiting its Spam and Policy forum. You can find a lot of useful threads as well as community experts that can actually lend you a hand by escalating your issue and help you remove a Google review.

Be proactive and take all these steps as quickly as possible especially if the review is way out of line, obscene or insulting. Even if it is obviously fake other visitors can create bad associations and that can affect your conversion.

Be Proactive When It Comes to Reviews

Building a foundation of positive reviews is your best defence against the occasional fake or that customer that is never happy. Your online reputation is ever growing in importance as consumers are relying more and more on web searches and reviews.

Always invite customers to leave a review so you have a buffer against situations like this and your overall rating does not take a big hit. Having a built-in mechanism to invite customers to leave reviews helps. Not all your customers will take the time but some will and that will boost your overall online image.

85% of customers say they read up to ten reviews.

Build a bank of good reviews to shows your company from many perspectives over a longer period of time. That makes it more difficult for one fake review to have an impact on your image and conversion rate.

Conclusion

Build a strategy to handle fake and negative reviews. Remember that negative reviews are not the same as fake review and should be addressed and used to improve your services. Use them to show your customers that you care and have their best interest in mind. And when the occasional fake review comes about act quick, and follow through with Google support until the issue is resolved

Rich Leese is a Google Certified junior PPC manager working on a wide range of our client accounts to help optimise and maintain great performance. Besides a love of marketing he is also into home brewing beer!

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