5 Ways To Handle A Fake or Negative Google Review

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As a small business, it can be hard enough to get your page to rank on Google. But if your page is showing a one-star review it could mean the difference between meeting your goals that month or not.

Some businesses reach out to customers publicly to see how they can mend the situation. This not only works towards addressing that particular customer but emphasizes how your business is willing to work to make things right.

If the review is fake, you could get it removed by Google. But you will need to act fast. Here are five steps to addressing bad reviews and protecting your business.

Stay Calm

With the anonymity of the internet, people can be less than understanding and downright rude with their feedback. It can be difficult to read reviews that are false or misleading especially when you know it’s impacting your livelihood. The first thing you need to remember is to stay calm. If a review has you ready to fight back, step away and give yourself a moment to breathe.

When you feel ready, ask yourself how you can best evaluate this situation as a business owner. Decide which of the three categories the review falls under:

  1. Angry Customer: this review is a legitimate customer who had a bad experience.
  2. Fake Reviewer: this review could be a competing business trying to tank your reviews or an internet troll with no life
  3. Wrong Business: this review is someone trying to leave a negative review for someone else

Once you’ve identified what kind of complaint you’re dealing with, it’s time to take action.

Never argue with a real customer who has had a bad experience. Always treat them as though their complaint is valid and heard and try your best to make it right.

When responding to a rival business who has left a negative review, it is still important to treat the complaint with respect.

If someone has left a review for the wrong business, customers usually understand that the review was an error. Still, it is worth reaching out to Google My Business and asking them to review the post.

Turn a negative review into a positive interaction

It’s important to respond quickly to reviews. Ignoring negative feedback makes it look like you’re not interested in the feedback of your customers. Waiting too long to respond also implies that you don’t take your customer experiences seriously.

And though neither of those responses is good for your business, there is one response that can take a negative review even further into dangerous territory.

It is never recommended that you act aggressively or in a hostile way when responding to negative reviews. Doing so will only create a permanent and very public example of how you lost your cool.

People are willing to look past a negative review, but they are less likely to support a business if the owner is confrontational and combative.

Three ways to ensure a strong and positive response

  1. Empathize. Let them know you feel bad about their experience
  2. Offer a solution. What can you do to make the situation better?
  3. Take steps toward prevention. Address how your business can avoid this problem in the future.

Your business can show how important it considers customer satisfaction to be by implementing these three guidelines in your response.

If you take the time to satisfy your customer, they might, in turn, take the time to update their review. And if they don’t, your genuine response to their complaint will show other customers that you’re a business that cares. If a customer can trust that you’re willing to try, it’s much easier for them to pass by negative reviews.

When dealing with negative reviews, Google My Business is a great tool to help manage your presence online.

If you’re having trouble navigating the system, @GoogleMyBiz is a great resource to reach out to.

Flag Fake Reviews

There are some very specific guidelines that customers must follow when posting a review on Google. If a review violates any of these policies it can be reported and possibly taken down. Flag and dispute any reviews that contain the following violations:

  1. Spam. The same content or review posted multiple times and/or to multiple businesses
  2. Threats, harassment or hate speech
  3. Misleading reviews from rival businesses
  4. Reviews that are not related to your business

Two easy steps to disputing a bad review:

  1. Log into your Google My Business account
  2. Highlight the review you wish to report and click the flag icon

After you’ve flagged a review, Google will review it and decide if it has broken their terms of service.

If Google returns a verdict that you’re not happy with, you could try reaching out to the @GoogleMyBusiness Twitter account or the Google My Business Advertiser forum.

Make a change to see a difference

One bad review could be a fluke. But if you find customers are generally dissatisfied with aspects of your business, you need to make a change. While it can be difficult to admit that you’ve made a mistake, it can be harder to admit when an area of your business just isn’t working.

When dealing with bad reviews, be vigilant about addressing the customer needs as well as the business needs. If you treat your customers well and make sure they feel heard and validated, they are much more likely to support your business through transition periods and growth.