Been given a bad or fake review in Google?

Been given a bad review in Google?
If your business has been left a bad public review in Google you’ll know how frustrating this is, particularly if it’s unjust, or even fake. Unfortunately there’s no way to stop someone from leaving you a bad review, and it’s a fact of life that customers are more likely to leave a review when they want to complain, rather than when they’re happy.

Recently, a client of M35 Web Design was left two bad reviews on his Google Business listing in quick succession. A Google Business listing is what you’re likely to see on the right-hand side of the search results page if you Google the name of your company.

The example I’m showing below is for a hotel that I know is no longer in existence, as I didn’t want to use a real one. This place has been demolished and there’s now a housing estate in its place!

Example of a hotel’s Google Business listing ↓ 
Google Business listing example

I didn’t even know my business had a Google Business listing!

Google Business listings have either been created automatically by Google, which is why some companies don’t know there’s a public listing for them, or else they’ve been created by the business concerned or someone working for them.

Can I create a business listing or edit an existing one?

To create a business listing, or edit an existing one, you first need to prove you have an ‘interest’ in the business by verifiying yourself to Google. Your interest can either be as the owner or as someone working for them.

To create a listing just do a search on ‘create google business listing’ and you’ll be taken to a sign-up page. Follow the steps to get verified and create your listing.

To claim and edit an entry that already exists for your company, there should be something that says ‘Own this business?’ (or similar) under your company’s public listing. Follow that link to get verification.

Can I get a bad review removed from Google?

Sometimes you can get a bad review removed from your Google Business listing. This only happens if Google decides it’s fake, or it violates their review policy in some other way. If someone has left a negative review about, say, bad service, there’s nothing you can do to get it taken down if it’s factually accurate but you just don’t like it.

Reply to a bad Google review

The best thing with a poor review is to answer the customer to try and put things right, which also shows others that you care. Make sure you choose your words carefully, otherwise you’ll look like a bad loser, or just plain rude!

To answer a review just login to your Google My Business account and navigate to the Reviews section.

Ask happy customers to leave you a review on Google

Make sure you encourage happy customers to leave you a good review and eventually the positive reviews will outnumber the negative ones, thus pushing those to the bottom. Bear in mind that this won’t happen overnight; it can take a good six months or even longer for Google to show the change.

Report a fake or inappropriate review to Google

If you absolutely know that a reviewer never visited your establishment, or you think it’s a competitor and thus the review is a fake, there are two things you can do.

  1. Leave a reply along the lines of:

“We’re sorry that you gave us a 1 star rating. However, we can’t find any record of your visit, so if you can send us your transaction details we’d like to address the issue”.

2. Report it to Google.

Likewise, if you feel that a review has violated Google’s review policies in some way you can report it (or we can do that for you). Note that Google considers policy violations to be the following:-

The post contains hateful, violent, or inappropriate content
The post contains advertising or spam
The post contains conflicts of interest

If you believe a review is covered by any of the above violations, next to each Google review there’s a flag icon that allows users to report a comment as inappropriate, and then fill out a basic form. [Note that the flag only appears if you pass your mouse over the review text, it’s invisible otherwise].

You can also ask your satisfied customers to flag the review as wrong, which should let Google know the negative review is not an accurate portrayal of your business. If Google agrees they’ll remove the comment, although this will likely take some time.

If Google decides against removing the comment there is nothing you can do. Their decision is final and Google will not enter into correspondence about why they made that decision.

How can M35 Web Design help with bad reviews?

In our client’s case he was left a one star rating, and no actual review, by someone he knew had never stayed at his hotel. We had a look at this for him and have asked Google to delete the rating. The client is now awaiting the outcome, but in the meantime we’ve also answered the reviewer on his behalf, in a tactful way, but in a way that let’s others know the rating is probably a fake.

Another reviewer who had also never visited the business had left a 1 star rating and written the word “OK” as a review. We’ve also asked Google to remove that one.

Push that bad review to the bottom!

If Google won’t take action, the best you can do is to tactfully answer the customer (or fake customer). Also make sure the business gets as many positive reviews as possible, which will eventually counteract the bad ones.

Getting a fake review can be very annoying, but it’s definitely not so bad if the fake review has been added to a page that already has a selection of good ones.

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