April 02, 2019

Posted By: Scotty Spielman

Bad reviews are troublesome enough. When scammers or identity thieves get into the act, it can get even worse.

We recently had a customer call us after she fielded a call from a company that said her business had a bad review on Google and that he could “get it taken down.” For a fee, of course.

It’s not unusual for business owners to get calls from less-than-reputable businesses that try to sell them services they don’t need. Fortunately she called us first because no matter a company may say or promise, they cannot get Google or Yelp or any other review site to take down a bad review—as long as it’s a legitimate review that doesn’t violate their terms of service.

False reviews are a problem, however, and it’s one that the online community is slow to resolve. Take a look at a couple of recent examples—such as the Captain Marvel movie earning negative reviews before it was even aired due to internet trolls attacking its alleged feminist messages, or supporters of President Donald Trump trying to tank the CNN app with 1-star reviews—to see how a bad review can spiral out of control.

Since reviews are factored into Google Search Engine rankings, it’s something to take seriously.

Google will only remove reviews under these circumstances:

  • If it’s spam or fake content
  • It it’s off topic, for example, containing personal information
  • If it’s prohibited content, such as anything illegal, explicit, dangerous or threatening, or derogatory, including hate speech
  • If it’s a conflict of interest

Even under those circumstances, the sites will be slow to review and remove them. Those departments are generally understaffed.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Flag the review as inappropriate, and point out how it violates the terms of service. For example, If it mentions an employee name, uses harsh language, etc.
  • Respond to the review directly, offer to solve whatever bad experience the customer claims to have had and work with them to improve your service. Ideally, your genuine customers will be able to spot fake reviews or attempts to tank your reputation and your response will mean more to them than the initial review, anyway
  • Ask the customer to remove the review, if and when you resolve the issue
  • Cultivate positive reviews with your loyal, happy customers. It’s much easier to reduce the effect of one bad review when you have plenty or reputable sources vouching for your business

It’s important to monitor your reputation and claim your business on any review site you find it on. More than 80 percent of online customers rely on reviews when they select a business or product, so make sure you know what’s being said about you and how to fix it, if necessary!