How to Deal with Malicious or Fake Reviews on Google and How to Report Them
There are many instances when a business has worked for years, delivered a good product and built up a good reputation only to have it all tainted by a negative Google review. This can happen for several reasons, but can also be undeservedly painting an inaccurate image of your brand. Obviously every business owner wants to erase such reviews as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the bad news is it’s not easy to delete bad reviews. Further, feedback that is accurate should be directly dealt with and customer issues that arise should be solved.
Talking about removing reviews is possible only when these are malicious or fake. There might be competitors or other disgruntled entities that might intentionally want to hurt your online reputation.
Malicious reviews can be frustrating and damaging. That is why Google understands the importance of allowing genuine reviews and offers a method to get fake ones removed. It’s possible but not always easy. First of all you need to have backing evidence for your claim. The burden of proving your innocence lies with you. Therefore, if you think it’s been left by a competitor, is defamatory towards you or your business or is just plain offensive, make sure you have evidence. The steps you have to follow are:
- Log in to your Google My Business account
- Find the review in question and select the flag icon
- Enter your email and reason why it violates Google’s review policy
Now Google will investigate your claim and will decide whether the review warrants removal. If it’s a clear case of opinion manipulation from someone, they will inform you and the offender of a possible removal. Google will approve a removal if it violates one of their policies:
- Spam and fake content
- Off-topic review
- Prohibited content
- Conflict of interest
Google recognizes the perils of anonymous reviews and is taking action to protect the online reputation of businesses. For example, anonymous reviews are no longer counted towards your overall rating and in some cases Google removes them altogether.
Improve your Online Reputation
Should your business have some negative feedback on Google, don’t panic. Use these to learn where you can improve your activity or workflow. As for the fake reviews, take a pro-active approach and do everything you can to either remove them (with the help of the platform) or respond directly to the reviewer with a compelling case, so that future visitors are aware of a possible fake review. All in all try to encourage your customers to leave you accurate and genuine feedback, so that the negative ones have minimal impact on your online reputation.