Fake reviews can be hard to swallow. When you’ve worked so hard managing your business’s reputation and service, and you’ve worked tirelessly on your Google My Business profile, a fake review can leave you feeling angry and resentful. Negative reviews — whether fake or not — can be harmful to your local SEO and your business’s reputation so you must act as soon as possible.
Disgruntled past employees, competitors or internet trolls may leave fake negative reviews, and if ‘Sunny Robot’ isn’t in your client database, and they leave a vague comment that attacks your business rather than leaving a valid complaint, take action to have it removed.
Google will not remove negative reviews from genuine customers, so the strategies we share today won’t work unless the fake reviews break Google’s policies. Google takes its review standards very seriously, and they will need to find evidence that it’s fake. Reviews that go off-topic or are discriminatory or abusive can be removed.
If it’s genuine a negative review, it’s best to follow rules we’ve provided in the past and respond in an appropriate, professional and respectful way.
Steps to combat fake reviews and regain control of your business profile
Step 1: Respond to the Review
When you first see a review a fake review, don’t jump in and slam it immediately — take a breather. Other customers may see this review, and many could single it out to read your comment — you need to respond professionally and politely.
Tell the reviewer that you’re concerned about the feedback and show that you care.
Explain that you have attempted to locate them in your customer records — this will show other customers that you are trying to follow-up and be proactive.
Provide a point of contact and reach out to them.
Stress the urgency and that you want the problem resolved.
Feel free to use our templates below.
Template 1: General Response to Fake Review
Dear [reviewers name], we appreciate your feedback, and we take all reviews very seriously. We are concerned about your review, and we are very sorry that you feel this way.
We have been unable to locate your information in our customer records, and we would like to address this issue urgently, please contact us on [insert contact details], so that we may find a solution.
Template 2: Response to Vague Fake Review
Dear [reviewers name], thank you for your review. We are very sorry you did not have a pleasant experience with our service.
We would like to address the situation, but we require more details about the issue, and we cannot locate your details in our customer database. Please contact us as soon as possible on [insert contact details].
Step 2: Flag as Inappropriate
Next, you need to let Google know. Press the three dots in the top right corner of the review and press “Flag as inappropriate”. You will need to enter your email address and tell Google the type of incorrect content it contains. If the individual has left a negative comment that is unrelated to your service or is vague, selects “Off-topic” or if it’s particularly nasty, click “This post contains harmful, violent or inappropriate content” — any discriminatory, abusive or racial slurs are against Google’s review policy, and these are likely to be removed. Wait 48 hours after you flag the review to see if Google removes it.
Step 3: Speak to Google
Your case may have to be escalated to a higher level within Google to have it removed, but it’s good to talk through the problem with a real person and express your opinions directly. Make sure to get the name of the person you are talking to or a receipt number for the call, for later reference.
Step 4: Contact Google via Twitter
You can try contacting Google via their Twitter account by leaving a message. Make sure to provide your contact details and those of your Google My Business profile. Response to customers about reviews via this method have been mixed, you may not get a response, but it’s worth a try.
You could try all these steps with no success; unfortunately, if you can’t have a fake review removed, it’s likely because it doesn’t breach Google’s review policy and there isn’t enough evidence to prove it’s not legitimate. In this case, you will need to focus on gaining more positive reviews. Make sure to link to your Google My Business review page via your website, through your email marketing channels.
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