When and How to Remove Google Reviews

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Your business’s online image is more important than ever. Customers research products, places and services more heavily than ever due to today's review economy. If you need a new pair of hiking boots, you read a few reviews online before making a purchasing decision. Deciding where to go for dinner? You check local restaurant reviews. As much as  91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% of them trust an online review like they’d trust a recommendation from a friend.

So when your business receives a bad review, you’re faced with the challenge of trying to restore your image. But fortunately, a company is not completely at the mercy of their reviewer. Learn when and how to remove Google reviews so you’re effectively prepared to defend your brand reputation.

The Reviews Google Will Remove

Not every review will qualify to be removed. Google’s User Contributed Content Policy outlines which types of reviews are not permissible. Here are the basics:

  • Falsified or Spam Reviews: Whether from a disgruntled former employee, malicious competitor companies or spammers, Google will remove fake reviews.
  • Prohibited Content: If a review contains explicit, restricted, offensive or derogatory content, Google will remove it.
  • Conflict of Interest: Google’s guidelines state that a reviewer may not review their own business, a competitor’s business or a business of which they are a current or former employer.
  • Unrelated Content: Irrelevant content that does not pertain to the reviewer’s experience with a business breaks Google’s guidelines.

If some reviews of your business fit any of these criteria, here’s how to remove Google reviews.

Fight Back: Dispute a Bad Google Review

Don’t fret over the review if it’s out of line—take control of your online reputation and dispute a bad Google review. Follow these steps:

  1. Ask for support. After navigating to your Google My Business profile, select “Support” at the bottom of the menu in the upper left-hand corner of the page.
  2. Send Google an email. When you select “Support,” a box with help topics will pop up and give you a few support options. Choose “Need more help,” then “Customer reviews and photos,” then “Manage customer reviews,” and finally “Email support.”
  3. Make your case. Now that you have the floor, present the facts. The more information you can provide about the review—screenshots, specifics, names—the better.

If bad reviews of your business violate Google’s guidelines, taking these steps will most likely allow you to successfully remove the Google review. You may need to wait up to a week for the removal request to be considered.

If your request is denied or if you don’t hear back from Google, you still have a few more avenues to remove the Google review.

  1. Tweet to @GoogleSmallBiz. – Occasionally, reaching out to Google via Twitter will yield a swifter review removal. Tag @GoogleSmallBiz in a Tweet describing the review, and respectfully explain how it violates their guidelines. Be sure to include screenshots if you have them!
  2. Fill out a legal removal request. – If a poor review qualifies legally as libel against your business, it may qualify to be removed legally through Google’s Legal Removal Request form. Abusive content or other content that violates Google’s product policies is eligible to be reviewed by Google and may be removed.
  3. Ask the reviewer to remove the review. – This is the best course of action when a bad review is a truthful review. If your business dropped the ball and a customer’s complaint is legitimate, Google likely won’t remove the review. Let your customer know that you care; then actively make amends and politely ask that they remove the review. Not only will your online image be restored, but your real-life relationship with your customer will also become stronger.

How to Spot and Remove a Fake Google Review

Not all bad reviews are legitimate. A reviewer may write a fake review because they want to receive compensation in return for removing it, or they may want to sabotage your business out of personal dislike or other malicious purposes. Here are some signs that a review may be fake:

  • The reviewer works for a competing company.
  • The reviewer recommends a competing business in their review.
  • You have no record of their purchase from your business.
  • There’s a lack of detail (no specific employees, dates, or other details) in the review.
  • There’s a large spike in the number of reviews your business receives.

Any of these warning signs could indicate that your business has received a fake review(s). Don’t worry though—you can combat the fraudsters and get rid of the review. Here’s how:

  1. Locate the review that you believe to be fake.
  2. Hover over the area just below the name of the reviewer, and a flag icon will appear.
  3. Click this flag, and you’ll be taken to Google’s policy violation report form.
  4. Fill out the form, providing your email and the violation type. Press submit.

If flagging is not successful after several days, report the review to Google Small Business Support on your Google My Business listing. You’ll be prompted to provide a screenshot of the review and your contact information. After 24 to 48 hours, you should receive a message from Google regarding your submission.

This Review, Too, Shall Pass

If—even after you’ve done all you can to try to remove a bad Google review—it’s still not removed, don’t fret. A single bad review is not enough to completely tarnish your business’s image online. Don’t lash out with nasty responses as a last resort; instead, try to nurture positive reviews. If you have a satisfied customer, encourage them to write you a review. Consider offering a discount or bonus product for satisfied customers who review your company. (Just be sure to not ask directly for positive reviews, as this is considered a shady move by Google.) When it’s hidden in heaps of great reviews, a negative review won’t damage your company’s reputation.

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