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Should You Delete Your Google Bad Reviews?

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Not every Google review you receive is going to be a positive one. If you’ve got a business and received a bad review recently or in the past, I am sure the first thing that came to mind was how do I delete the review? But when should you actually delete bad reviews?

Whether you are new to an area or looking for somewhere new to eat, we’ve all done it. We reach for our phones, conduct a Google search for [restaurants near me], and get served m

Do you go to the first one that you see? The answer to this is likely no. Instead, you will probably base your decision on the customer reviews left against each restaurant, giving you an understanding of other people’s experiences and what to expect if you visit.

Every company on Google hopes to receive positive feedback, but the truth is customers who have a poor experience are more likely to write an online review. For larger businesses, it is the job of their customer service team to keep on track of Google reviews, dealing with and removing the negative comments that damage a business’s reputation. But with running a small to medium size business and juggling all the other roles you are responsible for, constantly managing your Google Reviews can be time-consuming; this is where having a digital marketing agency can help.

In this article, we’ll put your mind at ease so you know what to do when you next receive a bad review and how to delete them and what to do if you can’t.

Contents

What is a Google Review?

Before you take action, it is worth knowing whether the review you are looking at is definitely a Google review or not. To help you confirm this, it is worth knowing the following elements:

  • To discover all reviews left against a Google Business Profile, you need to click on the blue hyperlink next to the star rating that reads “Google Review”.
  • Google reviews display a star rating system, where customers can leave between one to five stars along with a written review. 
  • Reviews will appear on your Google Business Profile in Search and Maps.

How Do I Delete A Google Review?

Unfortunately, when it comes to deleting a review, you’re not going to be able to find an option to delete the comment yourself if you are not the person who left the review. 

After reading that, I know you might be left feeling flustered, but Google does this to help prevent businesses from deleting poor reviews due to bad experiences. However, there are two ways that a review can be removed. The first being the person who left the review can delete it, and the second being you, as the business, can “flag the review as inappropriate” through Google Search or Google Maps. By doing so, you flag to Google that the review left against your business is either fake or doesn’t comply with Google’s review policies.

Once you have flagged the review you want to be removed, you will be guided to a landing page, where you’ll need to supply Google with a brief report of the issue. 

It is worth knowing Google is on your side, and as much as you don’t want negative reviews, they don’t want reviews on their platform which is going to have a negative impact on their users and community using the search engine. With this in mind, Google has built-in spam checkers that automatically analyse a review for inappropriate, irrelevant or misleading content before it appears on a Google Business Page. Whilst on most occasions this is reliable, reviews can sometimes be overlooked, which can have a negative impact on your business. When this happens, you can take matters into your own hands and report the review yourself. 

When The Time Is Right – Flag It

Now that you know you can flag reviews for removal, this doesn’t always mean every time you feel you have a bad review, you should report it in the hope it gets removed. Google has various topics which state its user terms and conditions and will only remove a review if it violates Google’s policies. When you notice a review that falls under one of these categories, your team or digital marketing agency can request to remove the review.

You will find that not every negative review is going to be eligible to be removed. If a customer genuinely had a poor experience with your business and turns to voice this through a review, you are unable to request Google to remove this.

Here are a few types of reviews that qualify for deletion.

Civil Discourse

Google states, “We don’t allow users to post content to harass other people or businesses, or encourage others to participate in harassment”. Hate speech or offensive content in a review is also not tolerated.

Offensive content has been outlined as including “content that is clearly and deliberately provocative.”

Reviews that contain personal information – such as credit card details, medical records, and more, will also be deleted.

Deceptive Content

Google considers a review deceptive if the content is not based on a real experience or does not accurately represent the business’s location or product.

Whilst content with impersonation, misinformation, misrepresentation, or fake engagement can also be considered deceptive. 

Mature Content

Any review left which contains explicit content that uses profanity, is sexually explicit, uses adult themes, or includes violence or gore that constitutes mature derogatory content will be removed.

Regulated, Dangerous, And Illegal

Content that doesn’t follow or comply with local regulations or promotes dangerous activities are eligible for removal by Google.

This also includes content that exploits, abuses or endangers children.

Information Quality

As previously highlighted, Google’s content policy states that review content should only be posted “based on your experience or questions about experiences at a specific location”.

They also do not allow any content that is political in nature, a general rant, information related to COVID-19, and more.

Reviews advertising a product, service, or a particular business are also not allowed.

To summarise, if you’ve got a review that falls into one of the above categories in Google’s policy, you can request for removal. But just because you’ve received a bad review doesn’t always mean you can get it removed.

Don’t Just Sit Back And Wait

This process can be slow and isn’t guaranteed that the review will be removed. Even if Google agrees to take the review down, you won’t know when this is going to happen. So don’t wait on Google as this could have a continuous damaging effect on your business. 

Remember, just because you feel it is a bad review, Google wants to provide its users with unbiased feedback from other customers’ experiences, ensuring they are aware of those who have had a poor experience. So instead of getting upset over a customer’s opinion and hoping for removal, which will never happen, responding never goes unnoticed and can go a long way. If you are a little overwhelmed or don’t have the time, using a digital marketing agency is key to ensuring negative reviews don’t damage your digital presence. 

Take The Right Approach With Google Reviews

Now that you know how to remove a bad Google Review, and, in most cases, the bad reviews are here to stay. How do you deal with them if Google won’t? Well, all reviews are good reviews, most of the time it is how you and the business deal with them for everyone else to see. Below are just some of the ways you can tackle reviews left against your Google Business Page.

  1. Do Not Ignore, Respond

All reviews, whether positive or negative, should be responded to. You do want to bear in mind how you approach responding to bad reviews to ensure you don’t end up adding fuel to the fire and making a situation worse. If a mistake happened which caused a negative review to be left, a genuine apology can go a long way in changing not only the perception of that customer but those who read through your reviews. Responding with a polite message to a negative review can often easily allow the public eye to make a judgement themselves of the type of business you are, whether that is caring by responding to a business which couldn’t care less by not responding.

If you receive a positive review, an appreciative acknowledgement makes a huge impact. Remember, these people have gone out of their way to leave a review, despite what you might think. 

2. Ask Don’t Harass

Once you have done the above and acknowledged the review, you might find the customer responds positively to you. In some cases, the review might be best left visible for others to see, showcasing an example of great customer service. On the other hand, you might only want to have positive reviews visible against your Google profile. In this case, you should reach out to the customer on a private platform such as email to see if they would be kind enough to remove the review. You want to do this to ensure they don’t feel pressured by your request where this can be seen by the public or, for your sake, create an even bigger issue which could easily escalate into further bad reviews. Be patient with your request and do not harass them until they remove the review or respond to you.

3. Acknowledge Don’t Solve

As discussed in the first point, you should always respond to any review – good or bad – though it is not always the right approach to resolve a bad review on your Google Business Page. Remember it is reviewing platform, not customer services. It’s best practice to always acknowledge the review with a positive response, but include an email address where the customer can email if they wish to discuss further or feel the response wasn’t adequate in resolving their issue. All reviews can then easily be managed and dealt with efficiently. Not only will this allow you to track and keep a record of any issues in your own systems and processes, it will also ensure you can deal with the bad reviews on a more personal level as this is then a matter between the business and the person who left the review. In some cases, those who leave a bad review are often fuelled further when it is visible to the public and encourages others to join in, which can often spiral out of control and become overwhelming. 

4. Your Next Big Break Through

You never know whether a bad review you have currently or one to come in the future could just be the start of your next big winning marketing campaign. Why not get creative a turn a bad review into the base of a series of paid advertising campaigns or your next email marketing campaign. These are just a few ideas of how you could utilise a bad review and get potential customers talking. Getting this right involves a creative team and those who know what they are doing when it comes to digital marketing, so getting involved with a digital marketing agency is best.

5. A Second Chance

Bad reviews can be left because their initial interaction with the business wasn’t fulfilled. For example, you might have impeccable service, but they had a poor experience with a dish they ordered. Instead of at the time of bringing it to someone’s attention, they will take it to Google to leave a bad review. Use this opportunity to identify problems customers are having and take action to correct them. Once you have, follow up with the customers who left the bad reviews and see if they would be willing to come back and try your product or service again. 

Communicate the changes you have made and learnt from past mistakes and that you value their feedback and relationship with your business. Don’t think you will win every customer over or every customer will be receptive to this, but it does show that you have a customer-centric culture and you value the reputation of your business. Whilst this is all visible to the public, this might be the reason a new customer chooses you over your competitor. 

6. Here To Stay

Weeks, months, years have passed, and you’ve managed to get over the bad reviews you’ve received. Though, this is not the case when it comes to your overall business’s rating on Google. All reviews, whether good or bad, count towards the star rating found on your Google business profile – would you buy from a business that has a poor start rating?

As time moves, your business can grow and a lot can change. This can mean older reviews may not be as accurate today. Reach out to those users who are still active and see if they would be willing to edit their review. You might need to consider offering an incentive for them to engage with your business in exchange for a more up to date review, such as a discount. 

7. Wait! Is It Genuine? 

You’ve received a bad review, and you’re feeling a little upset. But how do you know that this review is genuine. There are people out there who will go out there way to write fake reviews or even sabotage their competitors’ business. 

If you suspect this to be the case you can look for various common signs that can confirm your suspicion. Fake reviews are often left with little details and can appear to be generalised, so they could be applied to almost any type of business. Take a look to see if they have left any other reviews against your business or another business, or if they have a picture listed against their profile. Ensure, like any review you receive, that you follow up with a positive response. Once you have done all of this and still don’t receive a response, flag the review as inappropriate for Google to review. 

It’s Not All Bad News

Your Google Business Page is often the first encounter a new customer has with your business, so why would you want them to make an incorrect assumption about your business if they haven’t engaged with the business themselves?

Having read the above, you now know the steps you can take to ensure your digital storefront is a strong reflection of the business you are and improve the relationship you have with those who leave a review, whether good or bad.