Remove Fake / Spammy / Incorrect / Offensive Reviews from Google with the New GMB Review Removal Tool
Looking to remove a review from Google? Google My Business reviews can help or hinder your business’ reputation. When they’re good, they’re very good, but when they’re bad, your reputation on Google My Business (GMB) can tank. In the online review space, customer feedback is essential for any company to thrive, but what if you have a review that wasn’t left by a customer? What if you have a Google review that a competitor left on your page? Or someone from a foreign country who has never been a customer?
There are plenty of legitimate bad reviews out there, but there are also spammy or fake reviews meant to hurt your brand reputation, your ratings and your local rankings. Unfortunately, these negative fake reviews were not only harming your business, but they were also difficult to get Google to remove the review.
Thankfully, Google is getting more intelligent every day and learning how to block these spammers. It knows that just like some online pirates create lousy backlinks on purpose, they also leave fake reviews as one of their strategies. But now there’s a tool to help you remove Google reviews that you believe violate Google’s review policies – the Google My Business Review Removal Tool which was released in March 2021. The name of the tool is a mouthful, but wow is it handy!
What is the Google My Business Review Removal Tool?
The GMB Review Removal Tool can be used to flag, track and yes, remove negative Google reviews that violate their policies. You can flag a review directly inside the tool.
When negative reviews violate Google policies and there is evidence of abusive contributions (reviews, photos, videos and general activity) you can flag reviews and request removal.
Negative Google reviews should not be flagged if there is a difference of opinion between the customer and the business i.e. you can’t just start flagging every negative review because you don’t agree with a customer’s opinion about your business. Even though there is now a Google review removal tool, it still means that the review has to violate one of Google’s policies before they will remove it.
The process for removing a review using this new removal tool is to simply visit the following link while you’re logged into the email address that’s associated with your Google My Business account (i.e. the one you use to log into your GMB page backend at business.google.com). If you’re an agency and you visit that link, this is what you’ll see:
Essentially, Google is saying that the review removal tool is only available to business owners and not to agencies. If you’re the owner of the account or an admin whose email address is not connected with other GMB pages, you’ll see a list of the reviews that Google is allowing you to dispute. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not all your reviews will show up here. And sometimes, the very review that you’re trying to remove will not be available in the list and therefore you can’t use the tool to remove it.
If that’s the case, you can always try to get the review removed the old-fashioned way….
Flagging Google Reviews Prior to the Removal Tool
Before the removal tool came around, business owners had to go and manually find and flag reviews that they believed to be in violation of Google’s review policies. The problem was that the removal success rate wasn’t very high and very few business owners even knew that they could flag reviews in the first place.
Here’s a walkthrough of that process.
GMB review management varies slightly between Android and IOS phones, tablets and computers, but the process is very much the same. The main difference is the use of apps on mobile devices, rather than on an internet browser.
Steps to Flag a Google Review – OLD WAY
On a Computer from Inside your GMB Page Dashboard
- Sign into Google My Business
- Click on Reviews in the left hand menu
- Choose the review you’re concerned about
- Click the 3 dots at the top right of the review and then flag it as Inappropriate
In Google Maps
- Open Google Maps
- Find your Business Profile
- Find the review to be flagged
- Click the 3 dots and then flag it as Inappropriate
In Google Search
- In Google, find your Business Profile
- Click Reviews and find the review to be tagged
- Select the star rating
- Click the Flag and select Inappropriate and the type of violation
According to findings by SEO guru Neil Patel, a few negative reviews can actually help. The reason is fairly simple. Consumers who only see 5 stars and glowing reviews will become suspicious.
In fact, a 2017 study by Power Reviews found that “85% of consumers look for negative reviews in order to make informed purchase decisions.” Among younger, savvy consumers aged 18-29, this number increases to 91%.
Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews
Any reviews that don’t violate Google’s review policies cannot be removed. However, to help preserve your online reputation, we have a few tips for turning those negative reviews into a positive customer experience.
- Be Specific – recap what the complaint is about to assure the user that you understand.
- Acknowledge their Experience – did they have a bad meal? Did they have to wait in line too long or not find what they were looking for? Acknowledge their feelings and apologize sincerely in a short message.
- Don’t Get Defensive – we’ve all seen that business owner who bared their teeth on a forum or on an online review. It can get ugly and you don’t want to be the one everyone’s talking about. For best results, keep the response short and sweet.
- Fix It – even if you’re fairly certain that the customer’s leaky bathroom pipe has nothing to do with the work you did in the kitchen, be careful not to get in an argument. Instead, offer to fix it in whatever way you can.
- Follow Through – move the conversation offline by offering contact information. Existing and potential customers will see that you are willing to go above and beyond to mend fences and provide excellent customer service. The complainant should be pleased too. Gather their email address and phone number if possible, so you can be sure the issue is resolved.
Google My Business is an excellent way for local businesses to drive traffic and sales. But one negative review from someone can change everything. If you’ve got a negative review on your GMB page that you know is fake, try the new Google Review Removal Tool and see if you can’t get it removed from Google.
If you’re looking for a complete digital marketing strategy that incorporates Google My Busines page and review acquisition strategies, contact the IdeaZone team today.