Negative reviews can quickly tarnish your online reputation and deter potential customers. Hence, managing these reviews is a critical aspect of online reputation management.
We said NO BS, so here is the short answer
It’s next to impossible to remove negative reviews from Google.
Google will not respond unless you can that the review violates Google policies or that local laws are being broken.
Negative reviews feel personal and frustratingly difficult
It feels personal, especially for small businesses, because so much effort and dedication is invested in building a brand, delivering a product or service, and satisfying customers. When someone expresses discontent, it can feel like a personal critique and an erosion of your business’s reputation.
The process of removing a negative review from Google business profiles can be frustratingly difficult. Google’s policy protects the reviewer’s right to express their opinion, and unless the review violates Google’s policies (such as being off-topic, or offensive), it’s nearly impossible to get it removed. See below for how to Flag Inappropriate Reviews and Submit a Legal Removal Request.
Dealing with Legitimate Negative Reviews
Deal with Negative Reviews from Your Business Profile on Google
Review Your Reviews
Responding constructively to negative reviews demonstrates to the reviewer, and to other potential customers who may be observing, that your business is serious about customer satisfaction. It shows that you value their feedback and are willing to make amends or improvements. This can help turn a negative situation into a positive one. For example, if a customer complained about a delay in delivery, your response could acknowledge the delay, apologize, and detail the steps you’re taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Such a response can change the narrative from a simple complaint to a demonstration of your business’s commitment to quality service. It can even prompt the reviewer to revise their review or rating, reflecting the resolution of the issue.
Active engagement can instil confidence in potential customers, showing them that if they face any issues, your business will be responsive and dedicated to solving their problems.
Dealing with Inappropriate Reviews
Flag reviews that violate their policies
Google allows you to flag reviews that violate their policies. Offensive content, spam, or irrelevant content can be flagged and potentially removed.
Report only reviews that violate Google policies.
You can do this here
Dealing with Defamatory and Fake Negative Reviews
Submit a Legal Removal Request
In some cases, where a review is defamatory, you may need to submit a legal removal request to Google.
You can do this here
Dealing with Legitimate Negative Reviews
Not all negative reviews can (or should) be removed. Here’s how to handle legitimate negative reviews:
Responding constructively to negative reviews can turn a negative into a positive, and can often change the reviewer’s perspective about your business.
Reaching Out to Dissatisfied Customers
Consider reaching out to dissatisfied customers personally. It shows them you care about their experience and are willing to make amends.
How to Encourage Positive Reviews
Counteracting negative reviews with positive ones is a proactive approach. Here’s how:
Ask for Reviews
Don’t shy away from asking satisfied customers to leave a review. Most happy customers are willing to do this if asked.
Make It Easy to Leave Reviews
Make the process of leaving a review as easy as possible. Provide clear instructions, and consider sending follow-up emails with a direct link to your Google review page.
Managing your online reputation, especially in terms of Google reviews, is crucial for your business’ success. While it’s possible to remove certain negative reviews, remember that it’s more beneficial to address them head-on. Take the feedback, improve, and focus on generating more positive reviews to overshadow the negatives. Remember, every review, positive or negative, is a chance for growth.
Can you remove bad reviews from Google My Business?
Removing bad reviews from Google My Business isn’t straightforward, as Google has guidelines that protect the integrity and credibility of reviews. However, there are a few approaches you could consider:
Flag Inappropriate Content: If a review violates Google’s review policies, you can flag it for removal. This includes reviews that are off-topic, spammy, or contain hate speech. The review will be assessed, and if it’s found to be in violation, Google may remove it.
Respond and Resolve: Respond to the review professionally, addressing the client’s concerns. Sometimes, upon resolving the issue, the customer may choose to update or remove their negative review.
Legal Action: If a review is false and damaging, you might consider legal action, although this is often a lengthy and costly process.
Report to Google: If you’ve exhausted all other avenues, you can directly contact Google to look into the issue. This doesn’t guarantee the removal of the review but could be worth trying.
Increase Positive Reviews: While you can’t remove a bad review, you can encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, which will dilute the impact of negative ones.
So while it’s generally not possible to simply remove a bad review unless it violates guidelines, you do have options for managing your online reputation.
How do I respond to a negative business review on Google?
Responding to a negative review on Google My Business can be tricky, but it’s crucial for maintaining your business’s reputation. Here’s a quick guide on how to handle it:
Acknowledge and Apologize
Start by acknowledging the reviewer’s concerns. A simple, “We’re really sorry to hear about your experience,” can go a long way. It shows you’re listening and that you care.
It might be tempting to get defensive, especially if you disagree with what’s been said, but maintain a professional tone. Remember, your response is not just for the reviewer, but for everyone else who reads it.
Refer to the customer’s specific complaints so it doesn’t look like a canned response. This demonstrates that you’ve paid attention to their comments.
Offer a Solution
Where possible, provide a solution to the problem. Whether it’s a refund, a free service, or another way to make amends, make it clear you’re committed to resolving the issue.
Invite Offline Discussion
For privacy and to take the conversation out of the public eye, invite the reviewer to discuss the matter privately. Provide an email address or phone number where they can reach out.
Finally, thank them for taking the time to leave a review. This may seem counterintuitive, but it shows you value customer feedback, both good and bad.
Here’s a sample response for context:
“Hi [Reviewer’s Name],
We’re really sorry to hear about your less-than-satisfactory experience with us. We take your feedback seriously and want to address the issues you’ve raised about [specific issue]. We’d appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you. Please feel free to reach out to us at [Your Contact Information] so we can resolve this as quickly as possible. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Best, [Your Name]”
Remember, a well-handled negative review can actually work in your favor by showing potential customers that you’re committed to customer satisfaction. Good luck!favour
Can you disable reviews on Google Business Profile?
As of my last update in September 2023, you can’t completely disable reviews on your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Reviews are considered an essential part of the platform, providing valuable feedback for both businesses and consumers. Google aims to create a transparent experience, so disabling reviews isn’t an option provided.
However, there are some workarounds you could consider:
Unclaim Your Business: This is quite drastic, but if you unclaim your Google Business Profile, you lose control over it and any associated reviews. However, this also means you can’t respond to reviews, update information, or use any other features of the service. Your business will also still appear on Google Maps and Search, and people can continue to leave reviews.
Set Up as a Service Area Business: If your business is service-based and doesn’t have a physical location, you could set it up as a Service Area Business on Google. However, this doesn’t disable reviews; it only removes your physical address from the listing.
Report Violative Reviews: While you can’t disable reviews, you can report those that violate Google’s guidelines. If Google agrees, those reviews will be removed.
Legal Routes: As a last resort, if a review is falsely damaging to your business, you could take legal action. If successful, you could have the review removed, though this process is usually complicated and expensive.
So, in a nutshell, while you can’t fully disable reviews, there are some strategies for managing your online reputation.