How to Remove Bad Reviews from Google Local
Bad reviews are the bane of any business’s existence. An extremely positive or negative rating on Google Local can heavily influence a potential consumer’s decision making. In fact, several surveys (like this one from Bright Local) will tell you that 85-90% of consumers trust online reviews.
It’s no wonder, then, why our Brisbane SEO consultants always get the following question….
How Do I Remove Bad Reviews from Google Local?
Google prioritises highly rated companies over those with low ratings. So if you’re striving for certain SEO milestones, a bad review can flush plenty of hard work down the drain. And because no business owner wants their site pushed down in the SERPs, your first instinct might be to remove bad reviews from Google Local.
But there’s a common misconception about ‘removing’ bad reviews:
- Can bad reviews be changed or removed from Google Local? Yes.
- Can you change them yourself? Sometimes.
- Is it a good idea though? Rarely.
How you handle it depends on the sort of review that’s been left against your business. So let’s tackle them all, one by one.
Someone left false or defamatory feedback against your business
Google Support have a strict list of what constitutes Prohibited and Restricted Content when reviewing businesses on Google Local. Basically, users cannot post any reviews that:
- Contain offensive or hateful language
- Are false or misleading
- Are for a business, product or service you can prove they did not partake in.
It’s important to be sure the review really has been left under prohibited or restricted circumstances – there’s nothing to gain from constantly flagging bad reviews made against your business, because Google handles these situations with actual people (not algorithms). So if you’re consistently complaining, you might suffer from the ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.
Your best option:
- Comment back – Not only does this show you’re proactive and supportive, but you can also fish for clues that their review mightn’t be genuine.
- Ask what item they purchased and when – In your comment, simply and politely state that you can’t find their name against any purchases of the product/service they’re reviewing, so have them confirm what and when they purchased.
- If the comment doesn’t meet Google’s standards – Take the steps to have the comment flagged. If you hover your mouse over the 3 dots next to the reviewer’s name, you have the option to ‘Flag as inappropriate’. If Google keeps you waiting, you can send a simple (and polite) tweet to @GoogleSmallBiz to chat directly to a member of the Google support team.
- If they were a genuine customer – Keep reading and replying, because dealing with an honest bad review is usually better than ignoring it.
Someone left honest (but negative) feedback against you
First (and most importantly) do not close your Google Business account. You’ve worked this hard on it – and one bad review doesn’t mean the end. If you handle the situation well, a bad review can be a brilliant chance to show just how much you care for your customers.
Your best option:
- Comment back – You know what? There’s never an instance where this isn’t the best starting point. For small business owners, it can be tough to devote the time just to reviews, but it’s well worth it. If you can reply within 24 hours or less to negative feedback, you might not have to accept the review as negative.
- Find a solution to their issue – Let’s say the item they ordered was incomplete or damaged. Simply apologise sincerely, and tell them you’ll be in touch directly to find a solution to their problems. If you were to then contact them by email or phone, offer a replacement, and throw in a discount on their next order, suddenly they’re a lot less disgruntled.
- Be their best friend – As you resolve their issue, continue communicating in a private forum. If you can tell their mood has changed and they’re pleased with the service you provided, there’s your chance to mention how valuable reviews are to you. You can ask (without guilt or force) if they’d mind taking the time to amend their previous rating. You might not get all 5 stars, but 4 looks a lot healthier than 2 or 1.
- If they dig their heels in – That’s okay, as long as you left helpful feedback on the original review, potential customers will still recognise your efforts to resolve their issues. You might even find people believe your reply more than the negative feedback anyway.
Handy hint: As much as you want to appear helpful, don’t offer those little extra discounts or deals in a public forum. This can encourage bargain-hunters to nit-pick against your business, in the hope they’ll get the same treatment.
Negative reviews are starting to add up
At some point, it might be time to call a spade a spade. If people are consistently and honestly leaving bad feedback about an aspect of your business, it’s not their fault. Take the time to understand why your customers aren’t pleased with your business, and make changes as necessary. The best way to stop negative reviews on Google Local is to offer a positive experience.