managing fake Google reviews

Let’s face it: if you’ve annoyed someone just enough, it only takes them a couple of minutes to create a new Gmail account and leave a single-star review for your business. Years and years of hard work and reputational management can be undone in seconds. No want wants to let their customers down, so if it’s a genuine review by genuine customers, I would strongly recommend reaching out and trying to turn their experience around, but if it’s a fake review done by a fake account designed to cause you harm there are actions we can take. Let’s look at fake Google Reviews in more detail;

Understanding the Impact of Fake Google Reviews

Negative Google reviews can significantly tarnish your business’s reputation, losing customers and revenue. These reviews are often posted by competitors, disgruntled former employees, or even individuals paid to leave negative comments. Recognising and addressing these reviews promptly and professionally is vital for maintaining your business’s credibility.

Remember that new customers often check reviews to source their next suppliers, so you want to ensure that you manage your online reputation well.

Identifying Fake Google Reviews

Spotting fake reviews requires careful analysis. Look for patterns and inconsistencies, such as similar language across multiple reviews or accounts with minimal activity. Reviews that are overly generic or excessively harsh without specific details about your business are also red flags. Checking the reviewer’s profile for suspicious behaviour, such as only posting negative reviews, can help identify fraudulent activity.

There are companies out there that sell fake reviews as a method of’ attacking’ one’s competitors. It’s not right or painful, but it does happen. If you think you’ve fallen foul of one such attack, let Google know ASAP. Paying people to provide fake reviews is not acceptable in Google’s eyes.

Deal with Fake Google Reviews

Combat fake Google reviews by having a positive approach to gaining reviews in the first place.

Steps to Remove Negative Google Reviews

Removing fake reviews involves a few steps. First, log into your Google My Business account and locate the suspicious review. Click on the three dots next to the review and select “Flag as inappropriate.” Google will ask for detailed information on why you believe the review is fake. Provide any evidence you have, such as customer records indicating the reviewer was never a customer. Regularly check back to see if Google has taken action on the offending fake Google review. If the review remains, contact Google support for further assistance.

If you can demonstrate that a review is breaking its terms and conditions, flag it and upload evidence where possible. Some acceptable reasons are;

  • spam or fake reviews
  • the same review has been posted several times
  • don’t accurately represent the location in question (not your business, not your service, someone who shares your building, etc.)
  • contain illegal or restricted content (such as alcohol) or links to the same
  • contain offensive or sexually explicit content 
  • use hate speech, harass, bully or attack people (this could include personal abuse, e.g. name calling)
  • mislead (e.g. claiming to be from a company they are not, claiming something happened which didn’t, etc.)

Remember, Google reviews can take some time to be removed, and there is no guarantee it’ll happen.

Responding to Negative Reviews

When a review cannot be removed, a professional response can mitigate its impact. Start by acknowledging the review and thanking the reviewer for their feedback. Apologise for their negative experience, even if you suspect the review is fake. Offer a solution and invite the reviewer to discuss their concerns privately, providing contact information to resolve the issue offline.

Maintain a calm and polite tone, avoiding any defensive or argumentative language.

Handling Genuine Negative Reviews

Authentic negative reviews also require prompt attention. Personalise your response by addressing the customer by name and referencing specific details about their experience. Show genuine regret for their negative experience and explain how you will address it.

Offer to rectify the situation and invite them to try your service again. This approach demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Learning from Feedback

Negative reviews, whether genuine or fake, can provide valuable insights into areas of improvement. Analyse the feedback to identify common themes or issues and make necessary changes to your products or services. Communicate these improvements to your customers, showing that you value their feedback and are committed to enhancing their experience.

Don’t forget to involve your team in these conversations. Getting them onboard with fantastic customer engagement can really help your review strategy going forward, and they might just look at their delivered work differently.

Preventing Fake Google Reviews

Proactive measures can help prevent fake reviews. Monitor your reviews regularly to spot any suspicious activity early. Educate your staff about the importance of online reviews and how to report fake ones. Use reputation management tools to track your online presence and receive alerts for new reviews.

Establishing a robust system for monitoring and responding to reviews can help maintain your business’s reputation.

What positive actions can I take to manage my Google Feedback?

That’s a great question; honestly, it’s the right attitude. Let’s examine what you can do to improve your feedback.

Have a robust feedback system – encourage positive reviews.

It happens to the best of us. We deliver great work and then move straight on to the next project without really tying down what we’ve just completed. For example, at Delivered Social, we build great websites but forgot to ask the client for feedback and build their portfolio page, which showcases the team’s great work.

Now, we have a checklist for when a project goes live and have built-in that feedback request as a critical component of signing off on a project.

Make sure you respond to all feedback.

Good or bad, it’s important to respond to all feedback. Try to do it the next day (allowing any negative feelings to subside) and ensure that you thank people for leaving great feedback or add a challenge or customer service element to those who didn’t.

New customers will check, and if they can see you have 100 pieces of positive feedback with one damaging, and you took the time to respond politely, you are a professional company to work with.

Dealing with fake Google reviews requires vigilance, professionalism, and a strategic approach. By identifying counterfeit reviews, taking the correct steps to remove them, and responding appropriately to genuine negative feedback, you can protect your business’s reputation and ensure that your customers see a true reflection of your service quality.

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