Reporting a fake or negative Google review seems like the first thing to do. After all, you don’t want the world to read any criticism about your business. Even if the negative feedback was justified, you probably want to do something about any bad Google review. What can you do? Should you report any fake Google review to remove it?
Your initial response is likely to be defensive and assume that the person has no idea what they are talking about. You might be warming up your fingers ready to leave a response that proves they are wrong—and you are going to report it. However, before you do anything, take a deep breath and keep reading.
Despite feeling hurt and possibly insulted, there is more to a negative review than meets the eye. In the first place—there are some positives about receiving a bad review. Let’s begin here.
Receiving a Negative Review Is Bad—Or Is It?
If you are doing a good job, then most of your Google Reviews will be positive. But it is incredibly difficult to please every customer you have. There are just too many different types of preferences and personalities. So, at some point, a negative Google review is almost inevitable.
Here are five reasons why a negative Google review can be a good thing:
- Negative reviews offer social proof—As long as there are not too many, a few negative reviews give your business credibility. Most consumers feel that reviews are censored or fake if there aren’t any negative ones.
- Improve customer service—You can show off your customer service skills. Responding to every negative review shows other readers that you are respectful, and you are making every effort to improve your service.
- Make improvements—Negative reviews give you a chance to right the wrong. You can correct any mistakes that were made. This gives you the perfect opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one. In many cases, they may even update their review to reflect your positive customer service.
- Learn where to improve—You can learn things that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Genuine reviews can highlight areas in a product or service that need to be improved.
- Strengthen your brand reputation—They can remind you of the importance of your online reputation. It’s easy to receive all good Google reviews and to forget about what is being said about you online. The odd negative review can keep you on your toes.
Can You Report Google Reviews— and Should You?
Whether you decide to report a negative Google will come down to one thing—is the review genuine? If the review is about an honest mistake or a fault made, there is no point in reporting it. Google will only delete a negative review if it’s fake—not because you don’t like it.
If you are concerned that the review is fake, then you should definitely report it so that Google can remove it.
Let’s take a closer look at how fake reviews can damage a business.
The Potential Damage of Fake Reviews
You can turn a small proportion of negative reviews into positive ones if you respond appropriately. Nevertheless, the more negative reviews you have, the more customers will be put off from choosing your business.
On top of this, negative reviews will impact your search engine ranking. This is because Google rewards companies that do well and place them higher up on the search results. This, too, will harm your sales, and in turn, your profitability.
You should always report fake reviews as they can have a horrendous impact on a business’s online reputation. And their impact can last for a long time. In the case of fake reviews, you should always report them with Google’s flagging system.
How to Report Fake Google Reviews
- Sign in to your Google My Business account
- Click on your reviews and find the fake review
- Click on the three vertical dots
- Choose Flag as inappropriate
- Add your email address and the type of violation followed by Submit
More often than not, you will have to provide further information about why you are reporting the review. It’s not just fake reviews you can report to Google. Google has a very strict review policy on review contents.
You should also report any reviews that contain any of the following:
- URLs and phone numbers (this may be spam)
- Irrelevant information, discussing other businesses or products not related to yours
- The promotion of illegal goods such as alcohol, tobacco, weapons, pharmaceuticals, etc.
- Foul or offensive language, shocking content, violent images, or language
- Any type of sexually suggestive or sexually explicit content
- Bullying or hate speech of any kinds
It can take at least a week for Google to remove a review that they consider fake or inappropriate. That’s a long time for a reported review to continue causing damage. This is why you must reply to all reviews—even the fake ones.
How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews
Once you have decided whether to flag your review, it is time to respond to all of them. Even if they are fake or inappropriate, other readers will still notice how you handle each situation. Here are some steps to follow when replying to negative Google reviews:
- Address the customer by their name if it is available. This provides a more personal touch instead of giving them the feeling that it is an automated response.
- Thank the person for their review. You have probably learned something that will help improve your product, and they have taken time out of their day to do this.
- Highlight any positive comments that are in the review.
- Apologize for the problem. This must be a genuine apology and show that you have taken responsibility for any mistakes made. Don’t blame other departments in your company as this won’t earn you any respect.
- Provide a solution to the problem. Make sure you have read the review carefully because the customer might have provided some ideas.
- If you are unsure of any details, ask for more information. Don’t assume you have the solution if all the facts aren’t clear.
- Encourage the conversation to go offline and provide an email address or telephone number. You can’t always resolve problems the first time around. So, you don’t need readers to read extensive conversations between you.
- Finish on a positive note and sign off with your name and even title. This is again a personal touch and can make the customer feel special.
Regardless of whether your negative Google review is fake or genuine, you must follow up on the response. Follow up with Google to check on the progress. Follow up with your customers to ensure the problem is resolved and to ask if they would consider updating their reviews— turning the negative into a positive.
Reporting Google Reviews — What You Should Do
You should report any fake, malicious, or other reviews that contravenes Google’s review policy. With negative reviews, you should respond to them appropriately. However, you can’t report negative reviews if the customer was only expressing their opinion.
You can’t leave it to chance if you want to get more reviews. Most customers are happy to leave a review if you ask them. To help increase the number of reviews you get, you should use review management software. Getting more positive reviews is the best way to lessen the impact of any fake or negative reviews.
Using Starloop is an excellent way to start getting more reviews today. All you need to do is enter your customer’s address and let Starloop go to work. Friendly scripts invite customers to leave their honest feedback. In return for their feedback, Starloop plants one tree for every review.
Contact Starloop today to see how we can help you get more positive Google reviews.