Dealing With Google Reviews: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

We recently highlighted the importance of getting Google reviews for your business and their positive effect on Google’s ranking factors.  But what happens when your Google My Business (GMB) listing gets hit with a less than perfect review?  Luckily, there are a few options to deal with unflattering reviews for your business.  These include responding to the review directly, flagging the review as inappropriate, and even deleting reviews entirely.How To Delete Google Reviews

Google polices business reviews on their own using several policies.  When someone submits a business review, Google My Business reviews the content to make sure it does not violate any of its policies.  Some of these policies include:

  • Advertising/ Spam
  • Off-topic reviews
  • Impersonation
  • Conflict of interest
  • Sexually explicit material
  • Phone numbers, emails or web URLs
  • Profanity, offensive language or hate speech
  • Illegal or copy-written content
  • Personal or confidential information

Essentially, Google My Business reviews should be “honest representations of the customer experience”

Google does its best to filter out business reviews that don’t meet their content policies.  However, they can’t recognize and remove 100% of the reviews that don’t meet these policies.  Over the years our clients have received a lot of reviews, both good and bad, so we’ve dealt with a ton of different scenarios when it comes to Google reviews.  We’ve seen everything from straight-up spam to reviews that were written solely because of opposing political views (when a client decided to go on the campaign trail).

So what exactly are your options when someone leaves you a review on Google My Business?  Google, like many sites that provide business reviews, gives business owners the option to respond directly and publicly to their reviews.  This feature is often underused but it can make a dramatic difference when potential customers are shopping around for your products or services.  Let’s go over your options after someone leaves your business a review on Google.

What Are Your Options When Receiving Google Reviews?

When an actual customer submits a positive review you should:

  • Respond to the review! Whenever you receive a positive review that meets Google’s content policies, you should always respond.  Responding to reviews shows the public that you stand behind your product/ service, it gives you an opportunity to actively engage with your delighted customers, and it can help build trust among your customers.

When an actual customer leaves a negative review you should: 

  • Respond to the review! If the review is from an actual customer and it meets Google’s policies you should respond directly to the negative review.  Exactly how you respond to the review, however, is dependent on the specific situation.  If your business was in the wrong, consider creative ways to rectify the situation.  If the customer was in the wrong, be civil and explain what the customer did and why your business reacted the way they did.  Keep in mind that as the business owner, you have the last word.  So be nice, keep it short, and be civil.

When a customer or non-customer leaves a review that doesn’t meet Google’s review policies you should:

  • Flag the review as inappropriate! Once the review is flagged as inappropriate, Google’s review team will be notified and they will personally check on the review.  This option can take several days and never comes with a guarantee.  Click here for info on how to flag reviews as inappropriate.
  • OR Contact Google support! Getting in touch with Google support can be tricky but it’s an effective option to remove irrelevant reviews.  To contact Google, use the AdWords customer support phone number which is 1-866-2-GOOGLE or 1-800-246-6453.  Instead of entering your 10-digit customer ID, press the * button when prompted, followed by “3” for the “issues showing up on Google” option.   Again, this may take longer and require actually talking to a Google rep on the phone, but we’ve found calling Google support to be very effective when removing business reviews. Note: It helps to have an active Google Adwords Campaign. Have one of those $100 adwords coupons lying around? Now is the perfect time to use it.  Being a “paying” customer helps when it comes to getting real support. 

How to Respond to Your Google Reviews

In order to respond to your reviews, you’ll need to login to Google My Business.  If you don’t already have your business setup on GMB, click the “Start Now” button to create your account.  Once your account is setup and verified you’ll have the option of publicly responding to your business’s reviews.  To respond to your reviews, click on “Reviews” on the left hand side of your GMB dashboard.  This takes you to a list of your reviews where you can simply click “Respond” under each review.  Getting your Google My Business account verified also allows you to easily update your company’s business hours, photos, and more so explore those features!  And now you’re done!

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