I’m a long-time reader of the business insights articles a results-driven online marketing agency sends me excerpts from via email. Today, I clicked through to read the full content of an article about fake Google reviews. The article was an informative, easy read. I enjoyed it most of the way through, but toward the end discovered a suggestion that concerned me. The article advised its readers to offer incentives like discounts or coupons to their customers in exchange for their reviews. This is actually not allowed by Google. Below is a screenshot of their ‘Prohibited and restricted content’ page, where you can plainly see this to be the case. Be careful not to violate this Google rule!
Seeing their subtitle ‘Fake engagement’ got me thinking about the flip side of that. Sure, you can (and should) refrain from getting or posting fake positive reviews. But what do you do if you find fake negative reviews on your Google business profile? Continue below the image to learn what to do if this happens to you, as well as how to get more Google reviews.
Removing Fake Google Reviews
Negative reviews can discourage potential customers or clients from choosing to do business with you. And let’s face it, you’re eventually going to get some negative reviews. After all, you can’t make everyone happy…you’re not chocolate. But what if you recognize a negative review as a fake? Perhaps it was posted by someone who was never your client. Or they’re reviewing a product or service you don’t even offer (e.g., they’re reviewing burgers and your restaurant only offers salads). There are steps you can take to try to have a fake review removed.
- Log in to your Google Business Profile. Next, click the Read reviews icon. Your reviews window will pop up. Find the review you’d like to report and click the More icon (three vertical dots). Two options will appear: Share review and Report review. Obviously, we want the second option.
- Answer Google’s question, “Why are you reporting this review?” You’ll be given options ranging from Spam to Profanity, with a clear explanation of what each option means to Google. For our purposes here, you’ll most likely choose the Off topic option (“Review doesn’t pertain to an experience at or with this business”). Click the Send report button and your message will be sent to Google.
- While you wait for Google to (hopefully) remove the fake review, take a moment to respond to the review if you haven’t already. You really should respond to all reviews, even those you suspect are fake. Doing this shows that you are engaged with your community. Responding to legitimate negative reviews displays your commitment to customer service; try to rectify the situation if you can. On the other hand, responding to positive reviews can help to diminish the impact of any negative comments. And responding to fake negative reviews may help Google to determine that a review is, indeed fake. For instance, “Mr. G, it appears we’ve never serviced you as a client. We’d like the opportunity to resolve this issue, but require additional information. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can look into this further. Thanks!” Always be polite and professional, never nasty or improper.
Getting Real Google Reviews
As mentioned at the outset of this post, it’s against Google’s policies to pay for or incentivize Google reviews. So how do you improve the star rating on your Google Business Profile? Easy. Just ask! Ask real customers to leave genuine reviews. Reach out to your repeat customers and clients, your favorite patrons, those who’ve been the most pleased with your service or product. And Google has made it pretty easy to for them to do so. It used to be a complicated, techy way to get your Google reviews link. Now all you need to do is go to that Read reviews icon from your Google Business Profile dashboard and click the blue Get more reviews button. Google will provide you with a shortened link to copy and paste anywhere you want or a direct link to Facebook, WhatsApp or email. Happy review building!
Award-winning web professional Bonny Clayton, aka Your Web Chick, offers web design, support and maintenance for small business, with a specialty in WordPress.
A Tech Geek with a Creative Streak℠, she helps small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere establish and maintain their online presence. She is committed to serving them according to their needs, whether that means “giving them a fish” or “teaching them to fish”.